Those who have been waiting to pay a visit to the Ranjangaon Mahaganpati Temple as part of their Ashtavinayak yatra, but haven’t got the chance to make it as yet, have a reason to smile.
This year, the temple would travel all the way to Andheri, to house the most popular Ganpati in the Westcoast, the eight and a half-feet-tall Andheri Cha Raja.
Andheri Cha Raja, managed by the Azad Nagar Sarvajanik Utsav Samiti is known for its unique pandal themes every year.
This year, the pandal will be a replica of the Mahaganpati Temple of Ranjangaon, located 50 km from Pune, on the Pune-Nagpur highway. Work on the pandal is expected to be completed by the first week of September.
“Our preparations for the 48th celebration are on in full swing. During the period, different programmes have been lined up for every evening.
Popular singers will sing for bappa, there will a modak-making competition for women and mimicry shows. We are in the process of finalising the schedule,” said Uday Salian, media coordinator of the mandal.
“Outside the pandal, there will be entertainment options for children visiting the pandal,” he added.
What makes this Ganpati idol different from the rest is that it is immersed on the first sankasti, and not on the anant chaturdashi like the other Ganpati idols. Thousands participate in the immersion procession, an extravagant affair, starting on sankasti and continuing till the next day.
This year, the immersion procession will start on September 22. Interestingly, in 1994-95, the idol stayed for 21 days as the sankasti arrived late.
As part of the preparations, the special Andheri Cha Raja idol, which has special characteristics such as huge ears, small eyes and a different position of sitting, is also on the verge of completion.
“The idol is almost complete as I am supposed to deliver it to the mandal by September 1,” said Rajan Kathu, who has been making the Andheri Cha Raja idol for the last five years now.
“This year on, a special fibre mould has been created for Andheri Cha Raja idols, which will be in the possession of the mandal. The same mould will be used every year to make the idol,” said Kathu.
Salian confirmed that a special wooden box has been made to store the mould, which would be used again next year.
Andheri Cha Raja is one among the most famous Ganpatis in the city. Lakhs of people, including prominent actors, singers and politicians, come to the pandal every year from different parts of the country just to have a momentary ‘darshan’ of the idol.
While some of them come to spell out their secret wishes to Him, others come back with expensive offerings on the fulfillment of their wishes.
Sudhakar Pujari, a devotee, has offered two gold plated silver kadas to the idol this year. “Two years ago, I had asked bappa for a boy child as I already have a daughter. He granted my wish, so twenty days ago I came to the city and ordered for this kadas.
I wanted to fund the idol, but I am in the waiting list,” said Pujari. Another devotee from rural Maharashtra will be offering a silver rat, weighing 7kg.
“We have never run short of funds. In fact there is a long list of people who want to fund the Andheri Cha Raja idol for a year. People end up waiting for years for their turn to come,” said Salian.