Mumbai: Ganesh festival is celebrated like no other festival in Mumbai. It’s celebrated by almost every class of society, including the infamous underworld. The underworld dons use this opportunity to pay their respects to the deity as well as to improve their image among the masses.
The festival helps them reach out to people who otherwise would keep a distance from the criminal world. In the history of Mumbai’s underworld, two most notorious dons known to have patronised Ganapati mandals are Vardarajan Mudaliar and Chhota Rajan.
Underworld don Varadarajan Mudaliar, aka Vardhabhai, was the first among the dons to associate with Ganesh fest by establishing ‘Matunga Vignaharta Mandal’.
This year, his Mandal has turned 71. “The mandal was starter by Vardhabhai and we keep bhai’s photo in the pandal in his memory,” said one of the members. Here, the festival is celebrated with a south Indian touch.
Another Ganpati, linked to underworld don Chhota Rajan, is Sahyadri Krida Mandal in Chembur (pic). While speaking to Rajan’s connection with the fest, the mandal president, Rahul Valanj, said, “Chhota Rajan used to stay here. But, the festival we celebrate here has no connection with him.”
By Sachin Gaad