POWERFUL, HUMBLE, RICH, MODEST: MUMBAI’S GANESH IDOLS TRULY REFLECT THE MULTIFACETED GODby Rajshree Faria August 29, 2016
When one of the sweetest Gods of the Hindu universe comes calling in the month of Bhaadrapada, you know your eyes and taste buds are in for a treat. With stunningly decorated pandals and delicious modaks and laddoos for visitors, the many Ganesh pandals in the city have proven, year and again, that we love celebrating our love for the Elephant God with pomp and gaiety.
If you want to be a part of the mythical adventure that we call Ganesh Chaturthi, here are some of the best, in their own way, Ganesh idols you need to put down on your list come September 5th:
Most Popular “Raja” of Mumbai
He is synonymous with Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai. He is, Lalbaghcha Raja. The year 2015 saw more than a million devotees visiting his abode on each of the days of the Utsav. It’s almost like the whole of Mumbai converges to the Lalbagh area during the festival!
A resplendent idol, crafted by the Kambli family ever since 1935, be careful about copying the design elsewhere, as the design for the “Raja”, has been patent-protected!
The next most popular Ganesh idol sits just a few hundred metres away in Ganesh Galli. Known as “Mumbaicha Raja” by its many visitors, the splendour of the decorations reflect a famous temple as its theme each year. For 2015, the deity’s abode took on the look of the Bajrangbali Temple of Sarangpur in Gujarat.
Chinchpoklicha Chintamani is another favourite of the masses who gather in huge numbers even during the aagman sohala when the idol is just brought to the pandal for decorations BEFORE the actual start of the festival.
Pandal as rich as Ganesha’s blessings
When a community comes together to express their gratitude for the blessings endowed by the Vighnaharta, you have one of the richest Ganesh pandals in the city. The Goud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) Seva Mandal which organises the festivities, insured the idol for almost 259 crores (INR) in 2014…and why not? The mere jewellery on the idol was valued at some Rs. 22 crores! However, keeping in mind the growing financial crises faced by our brethren in the drought-hit areas of Maharashtra, the pandal decided to let go of the glamour and instead carved only parts of 2015’s idol in gold.
Next up is, Lalbaughcha Raja. When the fishermen & vendors of Peru Chawl in Lalbaugh prayed to Ganpati for help in restoring their lost livelihood, little did they know that the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal they formed in 1934 as gratitude to the God would one day, be one of the richest and would be insured for Rs. 51 crores (2014).
Idols as tall as the dreams of its visitors
Walk through the Khetwadi area of Girgaum during Ganesh Utsav and we assure you that you will feel like a dwarf. Go to Lane 12, and see for yourself the place where the record-breaking 40-feet tall Ganesh idol was placed in the year 2000.
Eco Friendly Ganpati
If you prefer to visit a giant yet completely eco- friendly idol, head to see the Girgaoncha Raja. Made of shadu clay which is also used to make Durga idols, Girgaoncha Raja has a towering height of more than 20-feet each year!
Dongricha Raja would have surely made Lokmanya Tilak proud. Why? Standing tall at 18-feet (2015), this eco-friendly idol is located in an area mainly inhabited by Muslims making Tilak’s vision of a united brotherhood a reality. The melting pot that we call ‘Mumbai’ should also be proud that most of the artwork found on the majestic idol is crafted by Muslim artisans in the area.
Spreading joy since decades: Oldest Ganesh pandals
When you have a legacy, you don’t have to advertise it.
This is probably what the Shree Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Sanstha, based in Keshavji Naik Chawl in Girgaum feels. Established in 1893, the city’s oldest Ganesh pandal rejoices in front of a 2 ½ feet idol every year. There is no loud music, no fanfare, only the purest form of devotion. You can see children dancing and performing in front of the idol, embracing the concept of friendly competition. Head to this iconic place if you want to see how times have changed, yet remain still…
The Mumbaicha Raja is the second oldest idol, first unveiled to the residents in 1928.
Most wishes fulfilled here!
You have limited time in the city but ardently hope to get your desires fulfilled. Where do you go?
Apparently, you need to visit Andhericha Raja as he is the one most devotees believe to be the wish-granting face of Ganesha. The Azad Nagar Sarvajanik Utsav Samitee has the beautiful idol set in the most elaborate themes, leaving the visitors gaping!
If the Lalbaughcha Raja has hundreds of thousands visiting it each day, there must be something about its wish-fulfilling nature, right? The navas line takes you to the feet of the idol, where you can ask for your heart’s fervent wish.
When the wait is worth it: the longest queues
Undisputedly, wanting darshan of the Lalbaghcha Raja is what will take the longest time. With queues reportedly running for as long as 5 km, this is some dedication that the devotees standing in line have. Ensure you have power bars, lots of water, and perhaps some company when you decide to offer your gratitude to Ganesha here.
Funnily enough, the queue for Lalbaughcha Raja may extend and confusingly merge with that of Mumbaicha Raja, another idol with one of the longest lines. The wait is well worth it once you see the Raja in all its resplendent glory.
We may have titles and competitions such as ‘Best Idol’, but deep down, every devotee knows that be it a miniature figurine or a majestic forty feet Ganesha that they bow down to, their devotion for the God cannot be compared.