Though Mumbai city has over 1.75 lakh residential Ganeshas and over 10,000 Ganesh pandals, no discussion on Lord Ganesha can be complete without the mention of Lalbaugcha Raja. Lalbaugcha Raja is one of the most popular Ganesh Pandals in Mumbai. Located at Lalbaug in Mumbai, the Ganesha idol erected here during Ganeshotsav is popularly known as Lalbaugcha Raja. It is said that Lalbaugcha Raja has a majestic divinity to him. Any wish you make of Lalbaugcha Raja will be fulfilled. Reportedly over 20 lakh devotees visited Lalbaugcha Raja this year.
On the first day of the festival, the idol is dressed in pitambar or yellow dhoti, along with a stole and a kambar patta or waist belt. The dhoti alone needs 39 metres of cloth, the stole and waist belt are about six metres long, the equivalent of a saree s length. The idol wears a similar set of clothes every day. The dress is changed twice every day once at 3 a.m. and again at 3 p.m. Twenty-three sets of clothes are required for 11 days of the festival. Apart from the clothing, the idol is also adorned with about seven to eight kilograms of gold. The main attraction here is a golden crown of 2 kg, golden bracelets and other gold ornaments. A special room near the pandal is set aside to store the colourful attire. The room is out of bounds for everyone except the senior mandal officials and the tailor who stitches the clothes and supervises each costume change.
The Mandal was founded in the year 1928. The market place at Peru Chawl was shut down in 1932. The fishermen and vendors who used to sit in the open place prayed to Lord Ganesha for a permanent place for their market. The landlord, Rajabai Tayyabali agreed to give a plot for the construction of a market. On fulfillment of their wish, the fisherman and the traders established the Ganesha Idol on 12.09.1934. The idol was dressed in the customary fashion of fishermen. Since that day onwards, Lord Ganesha has become popular as he fulfills the wishes of devotees.
The devotees often stand in a 7 to 12-kilometer long queue for 15-16 hours on the road, braving the sun and rains to have darshan. This year however, the trust got permission from the BMC and MHADA to use two grounds belonging to these agencies. The grounds are located behind the pandal where the Ganesha idol stands. Complete air-conditioning was arranged so that the devotees did not suffer needless hardship as they have had to do so far. The air-conditioned pavilion was spread over 60,000 sq ft across the two adjoining grounds and accommodated 12,000-14,000 people at a time. Devotees were also served free snacks, tea and packaged drinking water. The enclosure also had a 24-hour intensive care unit managed by doctors and medical attendants.
The trust had applied for the patent before the Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks at the beginning of the just-concluded festival. The mandal has also obtained geographical indication in the name of the deity. This means, temples and other mandals cannot be named after the pandal. The trust initiated the move after many businesses sought to name their products after the deity. The entities took advantage of the popularity and auspiciousness associated with the idol. They recently came across a firm that used pictures of the Lalbaugcha Raja on boxes containing modaks.
The name Lalbaugcha Raja has thus become the exclusive intellectual property of the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal. This means nobody can use the image and name of the Lalbaug Ganesha for commercial benefits without the trust s permission. The trust said they applied for the patent after media reports of a website that fraudulently sought donations in the name of the Shri Sai Sansthan Shirdi.