Ganesh Chaturthi 2018: Lalbaugcha Raja to Andhericha Raja, Mumbai’s Ganesh mandals echo present-day themes

Mumbai’s most famous ganesh mandals adopt augmented reality, eco-friendly and Swachh Bharat themes – demonstrating progressiveness and modernisation in 2018’s festival, discovers Maithili Chakravarthy

The themes of Ganesh idols take one’s breadth away every year. People throng to offer prayers at the city’s famous pandals with a great deal of reverence for the lord.

At this year’s Lalbaugcha Raja, augmented reality merges with the scene behind an all-powerful Ganesh idol mesmerising onlookers with a green theme, urging devotees to respect the environment and its offerings – trees, jungles, waterfalls and the natural habitat. Says Balasaheb Kamble, President of the Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, “Art director Nitin Desai has created the scene. We want to spread the message about maintaining forests. It’s all graphic design. It’s the first time we are using augmented reality and projection mapping.”

At the first Ganesh festival of Mumbai, established in 1893 at the Keshavji Naik Chawl in Girgaon, the preparations are more traditional. The mandal insists on choosing the same idol design every year. Wanting to steer clear of fashion trends and noise pollution, the mandal celebrates the festival with traditional fugdis and lezim. “We also don’t accept advertisements from liquor companies. Throughout the 10 days we have pujas, aartis, games and even fancy dress competitions,” says Dinesh Shah, Joint Secretary.

G. S. B. Seva Mandal, King’s Circle

G. S. B. Seva Mandal in King’s Circle has focussed this year’s preparations on Swachh Bharat. “We have included a lot of women volunteers this year. We have not used plastic anywhere and our idol is made of clay which melts easily in water,” says Gurudatta Prabhu from the security management.

Another mandal whose focus is on being eco-friendly is the Nikadwadi Lane Shree Ganesh Utsav Mandal in Girgaon. Their idol, popularly known as Girgaoncha Raja, is also made of clay and takes only 15 minutes for immersion. “This year we have invited different groups for aartis – the traffic police, the Mumbai police, the dabbawalas, and the BMC workers. Instead of prasad we will be distributing plant seeds,” states Bhaskar Kully, a committee member.

The theme for this year’s Andhericha Raja is one of the Ashtavinayaka Ganesh temples of Maharashtra – the Theur Chintamani temple. “People don’t have to go to Theur to see the idol.