Mumbai: Mumbai's spirited Ganeshotsav festival is synonymous with 'Lalbaugcha Raja', a well-known Ganpati having a rich legacy dating back to 1934. Its organiser, 'Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshutsav Mandal', gave a glimpse of Ganpati to the media on Friday. It unveiled the towering idol of 14-feet while announcing that this year's theme for 'Lalbaugcha Raja' is centered around the 350th anniversary of Shivaji Maharaj's 'Rajya Abhishek' (coronation).
“Chhatrapati Shivaji is 'Aaradhyadevta' (worship worthy leader) of Maharashtra,” said mandal president Balasaheb Kamble, adding that pandal will have 'Meghdambari' (regal canopy) and the entrance will be decorated like the gates of Raigad Fort to relate to the coronation theme. Lalbaug's Ganpati is also known among people for fulfilling wishes. Thousands stand in 'navas' (wish-fulfilling) queue for hours to catch a glimpse of Lord's idol. Crowds are so huge that there is another line for those who wish to have 'mukh-darshan' from a distance. People not just from the state but also from other parts of the country come to pay obeisance.
Walking down the memory lane
“To ensure that 'navas' line is smooth, we have made changes to the space as well as entry and exit points. People should be able to take 'darshan' in six-seven hours and those in the other line within two-three hours,” said Kamble. Walking down the memory lane, he said that the festival was first celebrated in 1934. Dr V D Korgaonkar, Tayyab Ali, Kunwari-ji Jethabhai Shah, Tauke and many others took the initiative back then. The number of volunteers has now grown to 5,000.
Jewellery and cash offerings
Earlier, the idol's height was less, but it has been the same for around 40 years. Though 'Lalbaugcha Raja' gets nearly Rs12 crore worth jewellery and cash offerings, the idol adorns limited ornaments, including bracelets, necklace and waist chain. As many devotees touch the idol's feet, so we have silver-plated the part made up of gold to keep its shine intact, said Kamble.
The donations are used for charitable works like running dialysis centres, libraries, book banks and other initiatives, including helping victims of natural hazards. “We will be giving cheques of Rs50,000 to those who recently survived the landslide. They will be coming for 'darshan' on September 24,” apprised Kamble.