Dazzling in designer duds, deity accepts digital donations

Mumbai: Andhericha Raja, also known as ‘Lalbaugcha Raja’ of the western suburbs, has replicated the temple of Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh this year.

In a first for any mandal, the 54-year-old Azad Nagar Sarvajanik Utsav Samiti (popularly known as Andhericha Raja), will accept donations through digital transactions.

Azad Nagar Sarvajanik Utsav Samiti, founded in 1966 by the workers of Tata Special Steel and Excel Industries Ltd, boasts a different look for the idol each day with a matching set of ‘dhoti-shela’.

The 16 sets of clothes for the idol are sponsored by a US-based designer, Sai Suman, in the form of an offering. During the festival, the idol also sports a crown with 3-kg gold worth Rs1.25 crore, which was made four years ago during the mandal’s golden jubilee.

The organisers of Andhericha Raja said volunteers belonging to different age groups come together on the same platform while prepping for the big day.

Some young volunteers of the mandal have shouldered the responsibility of handling the social media pages of Andhericha Raja, so that the youngsters can take darshan online.

For years together, the devotees have been requesting them to accept donations through digital transactions. “We got a card swiping machine as we observed that for many years, people have been facing cash crunch, and the government, too, has been promoting digital transactions,” said Uday Salian, spokesperson for the mandal.

He said this will also help them and the devotees monitor their transactions. Andhericha Raja mandal had been accepting payments through National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) from devotees based out of Mumbai. Last year, the Andhericha Raja collected Rs 75 lakh in donations.

Speaking more on the eco-friendly plot of the replica’s pandal, Salian said, the pandal has been completely made of wood and coated with fiber to get a finished look of the replica of Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga at Ujjain.

Every year the Andhericha Raja attracts a large crowd including several celebrities like Shilpa Shetty, Priyanka Chopra, Rohit Shetty, Anil Kapoor, daughter Sonam and Shatrughan Sinha among several other television actors.

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