OverviewThe festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on a grand scale in Maharashtra, with lakhs of devotees of Lord Ganesha bringing home an idol for a special puja on the day of Ganesh Chaturthi. In the capital city of Mumbai, huge pandals are set up to resemble various temples of India with gigantic idols of the Lord installed in them. Serpentine queues of devotees line up at such mandals to take darshan & receive prasad.
The most popular of all the idols is the one called Lalbaugcha Raja (Raja meaning Emperor and Lalbaug referring to the area in Mumbai where it is installed). The reason why it is so popular is the staunch faith of the devotees who strongly believe that anything which you wish for will be granted by the Lalbaugcha Raja. People come here from far-flung places, not just from the distant suburbs of the city itself, but also from other towns & rural areas of Maharashtra. This popular idol of Lord Ganesha is installed annually by the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal.
About Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav MandalThe city of Mumbai has a housing system which is unique to the city, namely of chawls. These chawls encouraged community celebrations of all festivals, irrespective of one's religion.
One such chawl in Lalbaug comprising mainly of local vendors with small businesses came together 80 years ago to set up a small mandal (organization). They set up a pandal where the idol of Ganapati was installed. This mandal developed over the years to include more and more local people contributing towards the setting up of the annual pandal & installation of the idol during the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi.
From a few thousands who visited the pandal, today there are crores! What's more, the faith of these crores of devotees is unbelievable – some of them come overnight and sleep on the pavements outside to be early in the long queue which starts forming right from the first day itself. Devotees are willing to stand in the queue for even an entire day just to get right up to the idol. The mandal has, since the last 7 to 8 years, made arrangements for seating and provided washroom facilities to the devotees behind the mandap. Food is also arranged for them.
With crores of devotees visiting, naturally the donations in cash, gold and jewellery is astronomical. The trust which is in charge of the mandal uses these donations to contribute to good social work. They provide computer training at concessional rates, operate a dialysis center where the cost per dialysis is just Rs.100/-, offer financial aid to poor patients at some of the city's Govt. hospitals, conduct free yoga classes, etc.
If you need any further information on these social initiatives, you can contact the mandal directly (contact details given at the end of this article).
About the Lalbaugcha Raja Ganapati Idol
[This is a poster I bought from a shop. It depicts the photos of the Lalbaugcha Raja of previous years]
The idol of Lalbaugcha Raja is the creation of idol maker Ratnakar Kambli. This gifted sculpture artiste has magic hands which makes the idol unique from all other idols in the city. The idol's height does not waver from one year to another, generally being 12 feet in height. There is something both gentle and benevolent in the face of the idol which instantly gives one the feeling that the Lord is kindly bestowing His blessings on you, calming one despite whatever problems you may face.
The idol making itself begins with a very special ritual, known as the "Ganesh Muhurt Poojan". The puja involved in this ritual is generally conducted at least 2 months before the Ganesh Chaturthi day. The natural soil which is used to create the idol is worshipped during this puja, the puja being conducted by the current President of the mandal as well as the idol's sculpture maker.
Lalbaugcha Raja AartisAn aarti is an important spiritual part of a puja (an act of worship) as it is a welcoming of the God or Goddess who is worshipped. Aartis in temples are generally conducted in the early morning hours, at mid-day and at dusk.
All the regular Ganapati aartis are performed at various times of the day at the Lalbaugcha Raja mandal. Some of the popular Ganapati aartis are:
Below is the YouTube video of the 2018 Lalbaugcha Raja aarti live streaming.
You can also watch the live online telecast of all the aartis and pujas of Lalbaugcha Raja on the official website of Lalbaugcha Raja: http://www.lalbaugcharaja.com/en/. The site also has a gallery of photos and wallpapers of Lalbaugcha Raja of past years.
Contact Information of Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav MandalShree Ganesh Nagar,
Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Road,
Mumbai - 400 012
Ph: 022-2471 3626
Website: http://www.lalbaugcharaja.in/ [you can browse the site in both Marathi and English]
Ganapati Bappa Morya!
Vandana is based in India with over 15 years experience as a freelance writer. Writing, no doubt, is her primary passion! Having learned the art of blogging from ISC, Vandana is enjoying the thrills of blogging, taking pleasure in sharing information & getting good pageviews at her various blogs.
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The author has created a very useful and informative article for the devotees of the God Ganesha. Many people who wish to have darshan of Lalbaugcha Raja but are unable to visit Mumbai for darshan in person are likely to get benefited by knowing about the online darshan system. Also the images of Lalbaugcha Raja incorporated in the article are a very welcome addition and enhances value of the article. Very good efforts and article indeed.