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With Ganesh Chaturthi here, we take a look at what awaits the devotees at Mumbai's oldest Ganpati pandals.
>> Lalbaugcha Raja
Lalbaugcha Raja, also known as Navsacha Ganpati (one who fulfills all wishes), is in its 85th year.
It was established in 1934 and, this year, over a million devotees are expected to visit the pandal.
"Look around you. You'll spot a fish market close to the pandal. Several buildings and shops have come up in the area too.
"Before 1934, this was an open space where the locals conducted their business activities," says Balasaheb Sudam Kamble, president of the Lalbaugcha Raja committee.
"In 1932, the locals prayed to Lord Ganesha for a market to be constructed. In 1934, their prayers were answered.
"That year, they celebrated Ganesh Utsav in a grand way and the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal was founded."
Since then, the idol has become popular as 'the one who fulfills the wishes of his devotees'.
"This year the theme of Lalbaugcha Raja is inspired by global warming," reveals Balasaheb.
"If you notice, through the years, the idol still looks the same.
"It is a 14-feet idol and we have managed to maintain that look for over 85 years."
Balasaheb, who has grown up in the area, remembers running around doing chores for the mandal during his childhood and teenage years.
"It's been over 15-20 years since I became an office-bearer," says the engineer, who has been working with Air India for the last 20 years. "After my office hours, I help out with the mandal activities."
>> Ganesh Galli
"Every year, we create a replica of different temples across India. This year we have chosen to recreate Gwalior's Sun Temple," says Swapnil Parab, secretary, Lalbaug Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal Ganesh Galli Mumbaicha Raja.
"We traditionally start work on the pandal immediately after Guru Poornima.
"Since the last two months, 100 people have been hard at work creating this replica."
One of the oldest mandals in Lalbaug, Ganesh Galli has entered its 91th year.
In 1977, a 22-feet Ganesha idol was introduced and that continues to remain the height of the idol till date.
"This year, our Ganesh idol (above) will be seated on a horse," says Swapnil, who works with Mumbai's Western Railway.
According to Swapnil, recreating the Sun Temple has cost them around ₹50 lakhs.
"The older members of the mandal believe we should first finish our work and then dedicate time for the mandal.
"Hence, we all go to work during the day and, in the evenings, we help out with the Ganesh Utsav activities," says Swapnil, who has been the mandal's secretary for the last 14 years.
>> Tejukaya Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal
"This year, we decided to have a simple Ganpati. Our chawl has gone for redevelopment so all the old residents are scattered across Mumbai," says Siddharth Kashyap Pisal, secretary of the Tejukaya Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Trust.
The mandal was established in 1967 and this is their 52nd year.
"In Lalbaug, you will never see another idol like the 18-feet Ganpati at Tejukaya.
"If you take a closer look at the idol, you will notice that its trunk is similar to that of the African elephant. That's a tradition we have followed for years."
>> Chinchpoklicha Chintamani
"This year, over 3 lakh people were present to welcome the idol (Aagman Sohala) when it was brought to the pandal," says Umesh Naik of the Chinchpokli Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal.
Inspired by a popular Indian temple, the mandal is pulling out all stops to ensure that it gets the replica right.
"The idol is an amalgamation of the Trimurti (the great triad of Hindu gods comprising Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva)," he reveals.
The mandal, which was established in 1920, is celebrating its 99th year.
"Our work doesn't stop post Ganesh Utsav. We try and continue the good work throughout the year," says Umesh.
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