What's the secret behind Mumbai's most popular Ganpati mandals?

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - 15:34
What's the secret behind Mumbai's most popular Ganpati mandals?

Pooja Bhula

While you may have already heard of these Ganpati Mandals, Pooja Bhula tells where their charm lies and what more they have to offer this year

Ever Famous

If there's a Ganpati in Mumbai that needs no introduction, it's the Lalbaugcha Raja... Having fulfilled the wish of fishermen and vendors of Lalbaug's Peru Chawl area, who wanted a permanent place for business after the British closed their market in the 1930s, the Ganpati sees lakhs of devotees on each of the 10 days of Ganesh Chaturti. Indians living abroad and foreigners come in huge numbers too; some visit out of curiosity about its attraction, some out of fascination, some to make a wish, some to thank for wishes that were realized… While nowadays the artistic focus is generally on the 12-foot ganesh idol and the mandal works at meeting modern requirements with big mandaps for people to sit, CCTV cameras and other security, toilets, drinking water, food, in the past people also went to mandal for their interesting and innovative decoration and backdrops.

Blessings with Bling

A crown of diamonds, and garlands of pearl and gold, adorn the ganpati of GSB Seva Mandal in Wadala this year; devotees have offered them to celebrate the mandal's Diamond Jubilee. But GSB's mandals in Wadala and King Circle see such endowments, amounting to crores of rupees, every year. What makes the visits here fascinating, is that you'll find here devotees doing puja or participating in the havan, being done in the traditional way (individually or with family), with traditional clothes and devotional music in the background. Some pujas involve a scale, a devotee sits on one side of it and rice, coconut or other offerings, chosen by him or her, to equal the weight are added.. King Circle's mandal takes pride in the strict discipline it observes (chewing things like mawa, gutka is not allowed) boasts of 59000 pujas in five days, before visarjan; they audit all the gifts. On the other hand, the mandal at Wadala immerses the idol on the 11th day and doesn't believe in valuing what the devotees offer. Interestingly, they've both taken the eco-friendly route with idols of clay rather than plaster of Paris.

Documentaries and Devotion

Beautiful paintings and sculptures used to recreate scenes of the Mahabharata, Ramayan and the lives of saints belonging to the sant parampara (known for non-discrimination on the basis of caste and religion), have been the allure of Rangari Badak Chawl’s mandal in Chinchpokli. People throng the mandal for a glimpse of the 8 ft ganesh idol, which is taken for visarjan on the 11th day. This year, for its Platinum Jubilee, the mandal has organised a grand set-up with a 100 ft sabha mandap and a 14-foot tall ganesh idol amidst statues of female devotees. Scenes recreated over the past 74 years will be showcased on the walls, through photographs. What's more? The celebration won't end with Ganesh Chaturti, but will continue the entire year through events–like deep utsav (during Diwali), rangoli comptetion, tamasha and other folk performances, a symposium to offer youth guidance and workshops, and more.

Moving Mythology

Beautiful paintings and sculptures used to recreate scenes of the Mahabharata, Ramayan and the lives of saints belonging to the sant parampara (known for non-discrimination on the basis of caste and religion), have been the allure of Rangari Badak Chawl’s mandal in Chinchpokli. People throng the mandal for a glimpse of the 8 ft ganesh idol, which is taken for visarjan on the 11th day. This year, for its Platinum Jubilee, the mandal has organised a grand set-up with a 100 ft sabha mandap and a 14-foot tall ganesh idol amidst statues of female devotees. Scenes recreated over the past 74 years will be showcased on the walls, through photographs. What's more? The celebration won't end with Ganesh Chaturti, but will continue the entire year through events–like deep utsav (during Diwali), rangoli comptetion, tamasha and other folk performances, a symposium to offer youth guidance and workshops, and more.

Palaces and Personalities

With everyone from Priyanka Chopra to Gulshan Grover and several TV stars visiting Andhericha Raja, Azad Nagar's mandal has become a celebrity hotspot. Back in1966, when it was established by mill workers who had moved here from Lalbaugh, it was a very simple affair. Its popularity resulted from a mass wish-fulfillment in the 70s; the mill workers, who had gone on strike, took a mannat (votive vow) that if the outcome was favourable, they would keep the idol for 14 days till Sankashti. And it did! Soon workers from nearby production houses started coming here, followed by their bosses and big wigs. Since a few years the mandal has been creating set-ups that look like famous temples and palaces of India for the benefit of those who don't have the time or money to travel. When the idol is taken for immersion on the 14th day, there's provision for devotees to climb onto the truck and do aarti, after which they break their fast; several believers also offer letters carrying wishes and the lanes of Andheri go alive with firecrackers and music.

 



First Published: Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - 15:34

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