Mumbai : One of Mumbai’s oldest Ganesh mandals in Lalbaug’s Ganesh Galli has built a replica of the famous Khandoba temple of Jejuri this year to house the deity.

Complete with minarets at the entrance and a four-feet idol of Lord Khandoba inside, the replica is spread over an acre and will allow Mumbaikars to get a glimpse of Jejuri (Pune) in their very own city. Having created replicas of Minakshi temple, Akshardham temple, Hawa Mahal etc in the past, this is the mandal’s 13th year of carrying on this tradition.

Ganesh Utsav, an elaborate 10-day affair in the city, is a festival started by revolutionary Indian leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak in the 1890s as part of the freedom struggle. The objective was to achieve unity amongst the Hindus who remained perennially divided on the basis of their caste, and fight for political freedom. Presently, there are more than 1,000 Ganesh Utsav Mandals in the city organising a celebration every year.

“The highlight of our mandal is that it does not have political patronage of one party. Politicians from several parties come together in the service of Ganpati Bappa. This year the preparations started about 50 days in advance with costs to the tune of Rs 40 lakh,” said Parag Kadam, president of the Lalbaug Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav Mandal in Ganesh Galli.

As every year, this year too the POP idol will be 22 feet in height and will be adorned with six kilos of gold jewellery. While the idol is still in wraps, the decoration has already started attracting visitors from over the city. Adorned with an assortment of colours, the temple dome is about 50 feet in height and is already making heads turn. When this correspondent visited the site, it was bustling with last-minute preparations since the ‘mukhdarshan’ is to be held on Wednesday. Workers were busy giving the final coating of spray paint on the temple minarets or making minor fixes here and there. While this concept was that of the mandal, its design has been created by art director Aman Vidhate and lighting design is that of Sai Arts. According to Kadam, both these designers work on Bollywood sets.

This year, the morning aarti will be done by the locals while in the evening, people like train accident survivor Monica More as well as Mumbai dabbawallahs, Kolis, Bollywood celebs will be invited on different days to worship Bappa.

The mandal has installed Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras to monitor the crowd and has deployed 1,000-1,500 volunteers to ensure order within the pandal. Also, the idol, its jewellery, the pandal, the volunteers as well the devotees have been given an insurance cover of Rs 25 crore in view of heightened security concerns.

Tanvi Deshpande

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