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Lalbaugcha Raja (English: The King of Lalbaug) is the sarvajanik (public) Ganesha idol kept at Lalbaug, a locality in Mumbai in the Indian state of Maharashtra, during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. The idol gives darsan to the devotees for 11 days; thereafter it is immersed in the Arabian sea at Girgaon Chowpatty on the day of Anant Chaturdashi (Ganesha Visarjana).
The belief that this idol of Ganesha is, Navasacha Ganpati (Marathi: नवसाचा गणपती) (which means the "one who fulfils all wishes") draws over 1.5 million pilgrims to the idol's display area daily during the 10-day Ganesha Chaturthi festival.
In 2021, the Lalbaugcha Raja Ganapati entered 88 years.
Lalbaugcha Raja is the popular Ganesha idol of the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal. The mandal, formerly known as 'Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, Lalbaug' was founded in 1934 at Lalbaug Market by fishermen of the Koli community.
The 'mandal' was founded because of a vow (Navas) 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 to create a permanent place for their market. Aided by Kuwarji Jethabhai Shah, Shyamrao Vishnu Bodhe, V. B. Korgaonkar, Ramchandra Tawate, Nakhawa Kokam Mama, Bhausaheb Shinde, U. A. Rao and the local residents, landlord Rajabai Tayyabali agreed to dedicate a plot for the market. The fishermen and traders established the Ganesha idol on 12 September 1934 in gratitude. The idol was dressed in the customary fashion of fishermen. This idol is believed to fulfil the wishes of devotees. The mandal was formed in the era when the freedom struggle was at its peak.
In 2020, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal cancelled its traditional festivities for the first time in its in 86 years of its existence, instead focused on a campaign to raise awareness about the virus.
The Lalbaugcha Raja Ganapati idol has been protected by the Kambli family for over eight decades.
Ratnakar Kambli (the head of the Kambli family) was a sculptor of idols and had roaming exhibitions at festivals across Maharashtra. He began protecting the idol in 1935, when some of his friends recommended his name to the organisers. After his demise in 1952, his eldest son Venkatesh took over and, after his death, Ratnakar Kambli Jr., assumed the responsibility.
Kambli Arts makes the parts of the Lalbaugcha Raja idol at its workshop; these are taken to the display area 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 around 5-6 meters (18-20 feet).
Arrangements for devotees
A few days before Ganesh Chaturthi, a Mukh Darshan (Holy sighting of the face) ceremony is organized by the Lalbaug Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal. This unveiling is covered by all national and regional channels.
The two queues for taking blessings of Lalbaugcha Raja are the Navsachi Line and the Mukh Darshanachi Line.
The Navsachi line is for people who want to get their wishes fulfilled. Pilgrims go on the stage, touch the feet of the idol, and receives the blessings of Ganesha. This line attracts huge numbers of people, politicians and celebrities. It takes around 25–30 hours and sometimes up to 40 hours (nearly 2 days) to get darshan in this line. 300–400 employees every year support the event.
The second line is meant for Mukh Darshan, to view the idol without going onto the stage. It can take 5–8 hours or longer to get darshan in this line, especially on weekends.
Lalbaugcha Raja Procession getting underway just outside its pandal on route to Girgaon Chowpatty for Visarjana (immersion)
Lalbaugcha Raja Visarjan (immersion) Miravanuk (procession)
- "Ganesh Chaturthi 2019: Here's why Lalbaugcha Raja is so popular". www.indulgexpress.com. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
- "Sculptor Ratnakar at his workshop". MiD DAY. Mumbai, India. 29 September 2004. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- "No Lalbaugcha Raja for first time in 86 yrs of its existence". Hindustan Times. 2 July 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
- "A Behind-the-Scenes Look at How Mumbai's Most Famous Ganesh Mandal, Lalbaugcha Raja, Functions". The Better India. 30 September 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
- Pansare, Upneet (10 September 2007). "Since 1934, this family been making Ganesh idols". The Indian Express. Mumbai, India. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- "This Ganesh Utsav, no Lalbaugcha Raja, 10-day Covid campaign instead". The Indian Express. 2 July 2020. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
- 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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