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Lalbaugcha Raja (Marathi: लालबागचा राजा, meaning: The King of Lalbaug) is the most famous Sarvajanik Ganapati kept at Lalbaug, a prominent locality in Mumbai during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. The idol is kept for public display for 11 days; thereafter it is immersed on the auspicious day of Anant Chaturdashi.
It is believed that this idol of Lord Ganesha is Navsacha Ganpati (Marathi: नवसाचा गणपती) (which means the "one who fulfills all wishes") and hence over 1.5 million people visit this Ganesh Pandal daily during the 10-day Ganesha festival.
In 2017, the Lalbaugcha Raja Ganpati entered 83 years.
Lalbaugcha Raja is the popular Ganesh idol of the 'Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal'. The mandal, formerly known as 'Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, Lalbaug' was founded in 1934 at Lalbaug Market.
The 'mandal' was founded because of a vow (Nav'as) for construction of the present Lalbaug Market at its existing place. The marketplace at Peru Chawl was shut down in 1932. Hence, the fishermen and vendors who used to sit in the open place vowed to Ganesha for permanent place for their market. With the consistent efforts and support of the then local Councillor Shri. Kuwarji Jethabhai Shah, Dr. V. B. Korgaonkar, Shri. Ramchandra Tawate, Shri. Nakhawa Kokam Mama, Bhausaheb Shinde, Dr. U. A. Rao and the local residents, the landlord Rajabai Tayyabali agreed to give a plot for construction of a market. As fulfillment of their wish, the fisherman and traders established the Ganesh idol on 12 September 1934. The idol was dressed in the customary fashion of fisherman. Since that day, this idol of has become popular as He fulfills the wishes of devotees. The mandal was formed in the era when the freedom struggle was at its peak.
The Lalbaugcha Raja Ganesh idol has been organized by the Kambli family for over eight decades. The family have their workshop in a little lane off the main road in Lalbaug, not very far from the pandal.
The father of Ratnakar Kambli (the head of the Kambli family) was a sculptor of idols and had roaming exhibitions at festivals across Maharashtra. He began organizing the idol for Lalbaugcha Raja in 1935, when some of his friends recommended his name to the organisers of Lalbaugcha Raja. After his demise in 1952, his eldest son Venkatesh took over and, after his death, Ratnakar Kambli, the current head of the family, started designing the idol.
Kambli Arts makes the parts of the Lalbaugcha Raja idol at its workshop; these are taken to the pandal where they are assembled and painted. Finally, Ratnakar, who is nearly 80 years old, goes to the pandal and draws the eyes. The height is 20 ft.
Arrangements for devotees
In the last few years, a few days before the Ganesh Chaturthi, a Mukh Darshan ceremony (Lalbaugcha Raja's first look and photoshoot) is organized by the Lalbaug Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav mandal. This unveiling of Lalbaugcha Raja is covered every year by all national and regional channels.
There are two queues for taking blessings of the Lalbaugcha Raja — Navsachi Line and Mukh Darshanachi Line.
The Navsachi line is for people who want to get their wishes fulfilled. In this line you get to go on the stage, touch the feet of Lalbaugcha Raja, and take his blessings so that your wishes get fulfilled. This line attracts huge public. It takes around 25–30 and sometimes up to 40 hours to get darshan in this line. There are 300–400 employees every year to organize the event.
The second line is meant for Mukh darshan, i.e., to get a glimpse of Lalbaugcha Raja Ganesha idol from some distance without going onto the stage. This line is also popular: It takes around 5–8 hours and sometimes up to 12–14 hours to get darshan in this line, especially on weekends.
- "Mumbaikars get their first glimpse of Lalbaugcha Raja". The Times of India. Mumbai, India. Times News Network. 1 September 2008. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- "Sculptor Ratnakar at his workshop". MiD DAY. Mumbai, India. 29 September 2004. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- Pansare, Upneet (10 September 2007). "Since 1934, this family been making Ganesh idols". The Indian Express. Mumbai, India. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- "The god of BIG Things". Open The Magazine. 28 August 2014.
- Lalbaugcha Raja 2013 First Look
- About Lalbaugcha Raja Ganpati
- Lalbaugcharaja website with all the updated details, including Aarti videos and live video
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