Category Archives: Ganesh Mandals
Where: Ganesh Galli, Mumbai
Famous for: Oldest Ganesh pandal in the city
The history: One of the oldest known Ganesh pandals in the state, the Lalbaug Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal, Ganesh Galli started the festival in 1928 to inspire people to fight for their rights in the pre-independence era. Throughout the 10 days of the festival, after the evening pooja, the organisers would host plays like the Ramayana and Mahabharata and screen regional movies to raise awareness about India’s rich culture and various art forms.
In the year 1977, the pandal entered its 50th year and to celebrate the occasion, erected a 22 ft idol, which went on to become the first biggest Ganesh idol in the whole of Maharashtra. While the record was subsequently broken by Khetwadicha Raja in the year 2000, the organisers have ensured to keep the idol well over 20 ft since then. This is despite the BMC issuing a warning to restrict the height of idols to 18 feet.
The idol this year: The 22 ft idol designed by Biharilal giri and 200 workers is set against the backdrop of Pashupathinath temple, Nepal. The entrance to the pandal features the 12 famous jyotirlingas in the country.
“A lot of people in our country are religious and due to lack of time and resources are unable to visit the sacred places. Every year, we attempt to replicate one of these temples to make people aware of our culture and heritage and also give them a real-life experience of visiting the place,” shared Swapnil Parab, secretary to the mandal.
Where: Girgaon, Mumbai
Famous for: It’s the tallest, eco-friendly idol made of clay
The history: In 1928, Ramchandra Tendulkar, who was the Mandal’s treasurer at that time, started the Ganesh Utsav in the Nikadvari Lane. The speciality of the Ganesh idol at Girgaon is that it is one of the few idols in the state that is made out of clay.
Unlike the regular idols which are made out of Plaster of Paris, the Girgaoncha Raja is made of Shadu clay, a special type of clay which is imported from West Bengal and is also used to make Durga idols for the Durga pooja.
Another tradition here is that since the last 85 years, the Patkar family is in charge of making the idols, which are peculiarly over 20 feet in height every year.
The idol this year: This year, too, the idol is 21 feet high and is sculpted by architect Rajan Patkar. The idol weighs 2 tons.
Sanjay Harmalkar, the secretary to the Mandal informs me that they want to spread the message of eco-friendliness through their clay idols.
“Every year, after the immersion, we see so many fragments of PoP Ganeshas in the sea. Not only is it disrespectful to the idol, but it is also harmful to the environment. The cleaning up also takes longer time. Although difficult to make, the advantage of clay idols is that they melt easily during immersion. On behalf of my Mandal, I’d like to request everyone to choose eco-friendly Ganeshas over PoP ones,” says Harmalkar who has been using the mandal’s Facebook page to spread this message among young people.
Where: Lalbaug, Mumbai
Famous for: It is known to fulfil your wishes
The history: In 1932, a temporary but prime market place in the Peru Chawl area of Lalbaug was shut down by the government. The fishermen and vendors who lost their livelihood decided to pray to Ganesha to help them with a permanent place to do business. Thanks to the efforts of a few councillors in the area, a new market was constructed in the same place.
In celebration, the localites formed the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal in Lalbaug in 1934.
Since Ganesha fulfilled the wish (navas) of the fishermen and vendors, the Lalbaug Ganpati also came to be known as ‘the wish-fulfilling one.’
The first Ganesh idol was incepted on September 12, 1934. Since then, the mandal is thronged with visitors throughout the 10 days of the festival.
The idol this year: The Ganesh idol this year stands 12 feet tall and took two months to be ready. Santosh Kambli, who sculpted the idol this year, belongs to the third generation of architects responsible for the patented design and decorations of the Raja.
The cost of the idol is Rs 60,000, but the decorations and other arrangements work up to 17 lakhs.
During the 10 day event, the pandal is visited by over 1 crore visitors every year and on weekends, organisers inform that it becomes difficult to accommodate people in the 3 lakh sq ft area surrounding the pandal.
Lalbaugcha Raja is also one of the richest Ganeshas in the whole of Maharashtra.
“Our every day collections sometimes round up to a crore. Just yesterday’s collections touched 85 lakhs,” informed Rajendra Lanjwal, treasurer of the mandal.
Lanjwal reveals that the money thus collected is utilised for social purposes under the initiative titled Lalbaugcha Raja Prabhodini. Some of the projects financed under the Lalbaugcha Raja Prabhodini include the Sane Guruji Abhyasika (a place for children to study), Swatantryaveer Savarkar Library, Sant Dnyaneshwar Reference Book Bank, Swami Vivekanand Scholarship (Scholarships for poor and deserving students) and Competitive examination counselling centre (to prepare students for IAS and IPS exams).
Where: Lane 12, Khetwadi, Mumbai
Famous for: They made the tallest ever Ganesh idol in Maharashtra
The history: When the Khetwadi Mandal was incepted in 1959, it had humble beginnings. However, in 1984, the members of the Mandal started collecting one rupee coins as donation towards their dream of making the largest Ganpati in the state.
With each passing year, the height of the Ganesh idol rose from 28 to 35 feet high. In the year 2000, the Khetwadi Mandal fulfilled their long cherished dream and created history. They made the highest idol of Ganesha — a whopping 40 feet high statue replete in Parshuram Avtar, which is claimed to be the highest idol of Ganesh in the Indian history.
Since then, there has been no looking back for them.
The idol this year: The organisers have tried to recreate Mumbai’s Hare Rama Hare Krishna temple this year. The 15 feet tall idol is made from Plaster of Paris and is adorned by jewels and accessories made of pure gold. It is designed by architect Raju Shinde and claims to be the fourth richest Ganesha this year next to GSB Seva Mandal, Sion, GSB Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samiti, Wadala and Lalbaugcha Raja.
Over 100 workers have assisted Shinde in completing the idol, which cost the Mandal Rs 1, 20,000. “We spent close to Rs 40 lakhs on the decorations and theme,” added Ranjeet Mathur, President, Khetwadi Mandal.
In the past, this Mandal has recreated themes like the Sheesh Mahal (palace of mirrors), Raj Mahal (Palace of the King), Swarg Mahal (Palace in Heaven) and Deep Mahal (Palace of Lamps).
GSB Samaj Ganeshotsav
Where: Ram Mandir, Wadala
Famous for: Adorned in a 22 karat gold-plated throne and precious jewels, it’s the richest Ganesh idol in the city
The history: The Goud Saraswat Brahmin Samaj started the festival in 1955 with the sole aim of uniting the Goud Saraswat Brahmin community in Mumbai. Over the years, it is said to have answered the prayers of lakhs of people from different communities which went on to attract visitors from various parts of Mumbai. While some of them rewarded in cash, others donated gold and coins to the deity. In the year 2011, the GSB Samaj sought an insurance cover of Rs 222 crore for the idol. Needless to say, the GSB Samaj Ganesha is known to be the richest deity in the city.
The idol this year: The 8-feet high idol adorned in gold and jewels donated by its visitors is a sight to behold.
“We offer various poojas for our visitors throughout the day at subsidised costs. Everyone is equal before God and it is our duty to spread the message through the festival. We want people to experience peace and divinity while they are here,” shared NN Pal, trustee chairman, GSB Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samiti, Wadala.
Where: Bhandarkar Road, Matunga East, Mumbai
Famous for: Provides food to over 20,000 people through the festival
The history: In 1962, a few residents from Bhandarkar Road area came together to start the festival and promote a social cause. Unlike the other Ganesh pandals which collect money from locals and residents for the festival, the Bhandarkar Road Sarvajanik Seva Samiti works in peculiar way.
“We don’t go door to door collecting money. Whatever money comes through donations is used to make the idol. Even the jewels and throne are not owned by the mandal. There are some noble people who have agreed to contribute to it. After the festival, they take it with them and provide it again the following year,” informs Rajendra Verma, a committee member who has taken leave from work to look into the arrangements.
The idol this year: The 11-ft idol designed by Ashok Parab stands in a busy street in Matunga. Every child who visits the idol is offered a chocolate bar instead of sweets.
Each evening through the 10-day festival, after the 8 pm aarti, the Samiti provides food to over 20,000 people, most of whom include poor children from the slums. The nearby locals have also allowed them to use the building space below to let senior citizens enjoy the meal in peace.
Where: Andheri, Mumbai
Famous for: Besides fulfilling people’s wishes, the pandal is known to replicate larger-than-life themes every year
The history: About 47 years ago, a few factory workers had moved from Lalbaug area of Mumbai to settle in the western area of Andheri, Mumbai next to their respective factories — the Golden Tobacco Company, Tata Special Steel and Excel Industries Ltd.
These people, missed visiting and celebrating the Ganesh festival in Lalbaug and hence started the Azad Nagar Sarvajanik Utsav Samitee in 1966 with the festive aim in mind.
Over the years, it has replicated various themes in its pandal which include famous temples like the Akshardham, Somnath, Mangueshi and Saras Baug.
The idol this year: This year Andhericha Raja has replicated the Jain Dilwara temples of Mount Abu, Rajasthan. The idol has been designed by Raju Savla whose family has been entrusted the responsibility of making the Raja since three generations now.
Besides Savla, over 50 workers have contributed towards readying the pandal in two months.
The decoration has alone cost over Rs 30 lakhs, informed a committee member of the mandal.
Unlike the other Ganeshas that are immersed on Anant Chaturthi, this is the only Ganpati which is immersed on Sankashti, which falls five days after Anant Chaturthi.
Like the Lalbaugcha Raja, even Andhericha Raja is a wish fulfilling one, and is visited by over 10 lakh people every year.
If the popular Khairatabad Ganesha in Hyderabad stands at 58 ft, the 86-ft Dondaparthy Ganesha in the city towers over every other idol in the state. The Dondaparthy Ganesh, this time in Krishna avatar playing flute, isn’t going to give up the title of being the tallest idol any time soon, claim the organisers. Appal Raju of the organising committee said that it took them a month to prepare the gigantic idol. “Artistes from Kharagpur toiled hard to give finishing touches to the idol. It’s going to be the biggest crowd puller in the city, drawing 50,000-70,000 enthusiasts. We will also auction the Ganesha prasadam (108-kg laddu) for charity,” he said.
More than 2,000 big and small idols are being installed this time at various pandals with the organisers battling it out to come up with innovative ideas. Notable among them are the ‘bangle Vinayaka, ‘eega Vinayaka, spiderman and Krishna Vinayaka, Ganesha in train and another one playing chess and another a green Ganesha.
The gold and silver merchants’ association’s youth Vinayaka utsava committee set up a Ganesha made of one lakh colourful glass bangles near Kurupa market. Ranga Rao, chairman of the utsava committee, said that 25 artistes from Chirala prepared this special Ganesha in 10 days. “We got the bangles from Kolkata. It’s definitely going to be cynosure of all eyes this year,” he claimed.
Leaving no stone unturned to woo the 600-odd Maharashtrian families settled in the city, the Maharashtra Mandali has set up its own pandal. “We miss the festivities back home in Mumbai and Pune but we try to make up by having our own Vinayaka pandal. Gujarati and Bengali communities also participate in the celebrations,” said Mahadeo Rao Shinde, president of Maharashtra Mandali.
The Lower Parel railway workshop Ganesh idol is a burning example of how to put waste to best use. The six-foot-tall idol made entirely from dumped railway bogie parts stands proudly inside a temple made from scrap generated by the workshop. The Lord and His abode are so unique, it is hard to miss them even amid the hectic activity around.
“I created the idol around three years ago. All of us who work here pray to it every day. It is a symbol of our dedication to railways. It sends out the message that even scrap is given the form of God here,” said Santosh Gajakosh, a grade-I fitter who maintains old coaches, beats iron panels into shape and repairs equipment.
While the idol trunk is made of equalising stay rods, milk tank brass hangers make its ears and air suspension cylinders the body. The idol is repainted and decorated before every Ganesh and other festivals.
The heavy duty railway workshop at Mahalaxmi too is a proud possessor of two such Ganesh idols and an ‘iron man’.
“It takes 10-12 days to complete the work,” said Ganesh Laxman Ambekar, a grade-I welder who has made the two idols, one showing Ganpati playing a musical instrument.
The ‘iron man’ gifted by bogie assembling unit staff to Indian Railways on the 85th anniversary of electrification of WR, is symbolic of the core nature of the Mahalaxmi workshop that maintains local trains.
Ambekar and Gajakosh’s enthusiasm is shared by Rajan Bhagwat, a junior engineer in the mechanical department of the diesel locomotive shed in Pune. He also spends considerable time and effort in creating idols from scrap.
“In 2001, I made an idol of Lord Ganesh for installation in the bungalow of then Central Railway general manager. In 2003, I made another idol for then GM’s Peddar Road bungalow using scrap from diesel locomotives at the shed. I used the lid of a filter drum to make the face of the idol. I have also made idols of Balaji and Padmavathi from scrap. The satisfaction is immense,” said Bhagwat.
Each of the 14 lanes in Khetwadi, Grant Road (East), boasts its own Ganesh idol, but, as always, the queues are the longest outside the 12th one.
Inside the tall pandal, it is evident why: The mandal’s 12-foot Ganesh idol sits on a throne in a resplendent room with tall pillars and intricate floral carvings painted in crimson and gold, akin to the palace-like interiors of the Iskon temple in Juhu.
“Every year, we try to offer something new to our Lord and to our devotees. This year, we chose the theme of Iskon’s palace temple because our idol is majestic,” said Shankar Harare, secretary of Khetwadi’s 12th Galli Ganesh mandal, which has spent more than Rs. 25 lakh on organising the festival this year.
The mandal’s idol, popularly known as ‘Khetwadicha Ganaraj’, draws lakhs of devotees because of the wish-fulfilling powers it is believed to possess.
“No matter how hard it rains or how crowded the trains are, I make it a point to visit this idol at least once during the festival,” said Neelima Pathare, 46, from Vasai, who swears by the idol’s ability to heal all health problems.
This year, devotees will get a chance to view the tall idol at face-level, from a gallery erected opposite the throne. “On the last day of the festival, we will also distribute water to all devotees from a special counter outside the pandal,” said Harare. Donations are used to help those in financial need in the locality.
This year, the Lalbaug Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal has recreated the famous shrine in Nepal to give devotees a truly spiritual experience
If you have always cherished the dream of visiting the famous Pashupatinath mandir in Nepal, you have a reason to smile this year — the shrine is being recreated at the famous Ganesh Galli Ganpati.
In the past, the mandal has successfully recreated various holy pilgrimage spots situated all around India. Pashupatinath mandir is a shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, and is regarded as one of the most holy sites for Hindus, situated in Kathmandu on the bank of the River Baghmati.
The temple dates back to 400 AD. “Our main aim behind recreating Pashupatinath mandir in Mumbai is because there are many Hindus who wish to visit the holy site in Nepal but don’t get a chance to do so. So we thought that we should come up with the concept of Pashupatinath mandir so that people feel that they have actually visited the mandir in Nepal,” said Sanjay Sawant, vice-president of the Ganesh Galli Mandal.
This year, the idol at the Ganesh Galli mandal is similar to the one that was installed in 1989, a creation of the well-known sculptor Dinanath Velinge, who first started sculpting massive Ganesh idols.
The same idol was remade by Velinge’s apprentice and now famous sculptor Vijay Khatu. The contract for designing the replica of Pashupatinath Temple was given to Biharilal Giri, owner of Maharaja Arts. Giri started work two months away from the festival and around 40-50 artisans and worked round the clock to turn the vision into a reality.
The organisers of the mandal are known for various charitable activities like blood donation. “It is a very proud moment for me, as I am going to make the same idol which was made by my guru Dinanath Vilenge in 1989 at Ganesh Galli and I am very thankful to the mandal for giving me this chance,” said Khatu.
First few images of our favorite Lalbaugcha Raja, sourced from various sources.
Ganpati pandals have been put up at over two-dozen place sin the state capital and the biggest of them is at the Ramadhin Utsav Bhavan.
The Ganpati idol, dressed spectacularly in a silk attire embellished with traditional gold and silver jewellery, is placed in a pandal decorated in yellow.
Mr Satish Agarwal, general secretary of the Shri Ganesh Prakatya Samiti that has organised the pandal, says that the footfalls of devotees are increasing by the hour. “There are about one lakh people who visited the pandal for Ganpati darshan and we are now holding Bhajan programmes every evening after aarti. We have also got people from Mumbai to prepare modaks because there are no traditionally prepared modaks available in Lucknow as yet.’
At another Ganpati pandal organised by Sai Sewa ashram, the idol installed is an eco-friendly one and use of plastic products, including carry bags, is banned inside the pandal.
Suresh Prajapati, an idol maker, says, “This year we hade more orders for Ganesh statues than for Durga idols. For us, this time of the year is spent in making Durga idols but this year we are working double shifts to cope with orders for Ganesha idols. We have orders for Ganesh is different sizes — from an eight-inch statue to six- and eight-foot statues. The maximum number of buyers is those who bring Ganpati home.”
Rajiv Sharma, a software engineer, who started bringing Ganpati home for three days since last year, admits that he was inspired by visuals of Ganpati festival in Maharashtra. ”I thought that in north India we worship Ganpati before doing an auspicious work so we should also bring him home. We bring him home for three days but we want to celebrate the festival on a bigger scale from next year,” he says.
Over 8,000 colour pencils and 12,000 erasers have been used to make the Ganesh idol of the Jai Ambe Mitra Mandal, Raval Nagar, Bhayander (East). The mandal’s theme is ‘when you educate a girl, you educate a nation’. When the mandal turned three in 2009, its members felt the need to use the 10-day festival as a platform to spread social messages. This year, when the mandal was deliberating on themes, stories of female foeticide were making headlines, said mandal president Mukesh Ufale. “We worship goddesses. But when it comes to our daughters and sisters, we want to simply marry them off. That is when the idea of educating the girl child occurred to us.”
After deliberations, it was decided to use stationery to make the pandal’s idol.
This Ganesh festival, the Sai Nath Mandal Trust at Budhwar Peth aims to spread awareness against child abuse. “Over these 10 days, we will conduct a variety of plays and an exhibition of posters and newspaper articles at our pandal to highlight this issue,” said Piyush Ramesh Shah, working president at Sai Nath Mandal Trust.
There are paintings on display that demonstrate how children must protect themselves against sexual abuse. The paintings have been done by Amit Dhane, who is a friend of Shah. “We do our children wrong by not listening to them or just taking what they say lightly. We need to have conversation with them and educate them about what it is appropriate and what is offensive,” says Shah.
The second play that we have prepared is about a boy who is molested by his uncle. His parents do not believe him and this brings about disastrous consequences. “The message that we want to send out is for all parents to take care of their children, believe them and keep an eye out for something that might affect them and spoil their childhood,” he added. The short plays are informative yet entertaining with a mix of dance, song and dialogues. “During this festive season, even though we want to spread a social message, we do not want to make coming to our pandal a sombre experience. We want people to be entertained as well as informed and educated on such issues. For this, we have decided to infuse an element of song and dance in our plays,” he added.
The city’s oldest Ganpati mandals that date back to 50-100 years are leading the festivities with a blend of pomp and simplicity.
Mumbai’s first sarvajanik Ganeshotav at Keshavji Naik Chawl, Girgaum, started in 1893. Its idol remains 2.25 ft tall. “This year, residents of the compound will ourselves form theentertainment quotient. We have made a deliberate decision to not invite artistes from outside and have instead purchased eight big dhols for our boys to play. Every weekend, they practise at Wilson Gymkhana so as not to disturb the chawl. We will sing, dance and walk the ramp at a fashion show for which we have engaged professional trainers and consultants,” says president Bhalchandra Gharat.
In Dharavi, art director Manoj Govekar is busy with a prize assignment that marks the centenary of the Arulmigu Shree Maha Ganeshotsav. Govekar is building an extension to the existing south Indian temple. “The mandal was set up by migrants from Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu who fled the plague and casteism of that era and come to Mumbai where they set up tanneries,” he says. Music legend Ilayaraja and TN ministers will be feted this year.
The Girgaumcha Maharaja of the Akhil Mugbhat mandal rises 17-ft tall in its 81st year. “Vajpayee, Raj Thackeray, Tina Ambani and Praful Patel have visited us. Our mandal championed the cause for smooth roads for Ganesh processions years ago and was the first to make a foldable trolley for immersion,” says member Sameer Adukar.
An award-winning pandal in Mazgaon is known for hosting royal themes each year. The 9-ft tall Anjirwadi Ganpati will be seated in a Mauryan palace. “Art director Sanjay Dabhade has been working hard at adapting prominent symbols of that reign,” says spokesperson Satyan Kesarkar. It was at this 64-year-old mandal that the mould of an athletic, smiling Ganesh was first cast by sculptor Ratnakar Kambli. The prototype was later adopted by Lalbaugcha Raja organisers and became the popular model it is now.
A likeness of Delhi’s Akshardham Swaminarayan temple is taking shape at the 50-plus Shri Ganesh Mitra Mandal in Mulund. “Art director Bhushan Rodrigues is making a 40-ft pandal along these lines,” says representative Anand Thakkar.