Come Ganpati and hundreds of VIPs queue up to visit the popular Lalbaugcha Raja but there are a lucky few who take the Raja home, too. Idol maker Ratnakar Kambli has been flooded with requests from severa

l VIPs for a miniature Lalbaugcha Raja, which they can take home. The lucky list of VIPs who will be taking the miniature Raja home include toppoliticians, corporate honchos and film- stars.

However, facing severe time and space constraints, many of them have been kept in waiting by the idol makers. Senior NCP Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Dilip Walse- Patil, former minister Vijaysinh Mohite- Patil and MP Sanjay Nirupam are among the politicians who will be taking the idol home this year.

Actor Shilpa Shetty and popular Marathi actor Kedar Shinde are among the film personalities who will celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi with a replica of the Lalbaugcha Raja in their living rooms. And the list doesnalt39t end here and includes several top cops, too.

Superintendent of Police in the CBI Abhin Modak and DIG Praveen Salunkhe ( also with the CBI) are those who will take a miniature version of the Raja home.

” We are flooded with orders from VIPs but we have limited space and a handful of sculptors, so we have to turn down many of them. It does feel bad but we donalt39t take the risk of taking an order and not delivering on time or compromise on the design,” says idol maker Santosh Kambli, the third generation of a family that is sculpting Lalbaugcha Raja. Those in the waiting are given idols if there are any unlikely cancellations.

This year the Kamblis have sculpted close to 100 miniature replicas of the Raja in different sizes and many of them will end up in high- profile homes. ” We start taking orders in January itself from those who approach us,” says Kambli. The first of the mini Rajas were made in 2007 for some acquaintances of the Kamblis, but word soon spread and requests began to flow in from as far as Pune and Nagpur.

While Bhujbals idol is a mighty 9- feet high and will be put up at a community mandal in Anjeerwadi, most other replicas are around 2- 3 feet tall and cost around Rs. 10,000. ” No price is too big for the lord but we charge a very reasonable sum and the price is the same for VIPs and the common man,” Kambli adds.

Many of the VIPs, including Shetty and Nirupam, have already taken the idol home; others will be taking them home on Wednesday. With the Lalbaugcha Raja in their homes, lakhs of devotees can only hope that the never ending queues to get a glimpse of the real Raja at Lalbaug are that bit shorter.

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