Delhi takes a leaf from Mumbai for Ganeshotsav

New Delhi: The Ganesh Chaturti festival is celebrated with much pomp and grandeur in the western part of India, but Delhi with its mixed culture is catching up.

Mumbai, home to Bollywood actors and other celebrities has various Ganesh pandals across the city with the most popular being the Lalbaugcha Raja. Situated in Lalbaug market area, the pandal, founded in 1934, is said to attract millions.

Now, modelled on the popular Mumbai pandal is the 'Raja Lalbaugcha Ganpati' pandal in Pitampura here. Organisers claim that they have for the first time brought the Ganesh idol from Mumbai and even fetched the priests from there.

"It's the God's call. He directed us and we decided to get the Lalbaug Ganpati to the city. We are hopeful that we'll get to see as many worshipers as in Mumbai," says Rajesh Gupta, secretary and 'mela mantri' of the city's Raja Lalbaugcha Ganpati trust.

The Ganesh Chaturti festival, signifying the birth of Lord Ganesha, is set to begin from August 29 and continue at the Netaji Subhash Place Ground in Pitampura here till September 8, when the idol will be immersed. "The Ganesh idol will be as large as the one in Mumbai. In fact, the idol and the priests, all have been bought from Mumbai," says Gupta. Organisers say the stalls at the pandals that would remain open round the clock and serve 'modak', a sweet dumpling.

While visitors at Mumbai's Raja Lalbaugcha pandal often stand in two lines, to pay their obeisance, including one where they can directly touch the idol's feet, those in Delhi would have a solitary line. "It might be present there but we are not doing it here. Here, no one will get to go onto the stage but everyone is free to worship from near the stage," says Gupta.

A 'Raja Lalbaug Ganpati Rath Yatra' has also been scheduled on August 27. "There will be different bands and the procession will be taken out with lot of celebration. However, this Ganpati will be different from the one in the pandal," says Gupta. The city's Tamil community have also been organising Ganesh Chaturti since 2005 at the Sankatahara Ganapathy Temple in Vasudhara Enclave. "Sankatahara is the 32nd form of Lord Ganesha. So every year we take out a procession on an elephant with Ganesha's idol on it, before Vinayaka Chaturti.

"This time we began the celebrations with the Ganesha Utsav on August 24. The procession started with chanting of vedas and children dressed as God and Goddesses went around neighbouring societies," says N Rajasekhar, Secretary Activities, Vasundhara Enclave Sarveswara Samaj.

Rajasekhar says, "The homam or havan will start from August 29 and in the evening devotees can see the procession of covering Ganesha with silver 'kavaj'. The idol we have established here is made of pure combinations of five metals and will remain in the temple; it will not be immersed." Vinayaka Chaturthi celebrations have already begun at the Vinayaka Mandir in Sarojini Nagar which is set to hold special 'homams' that are held everyday till August 28.

Mandar Shinde, a sculptor who comes to Delhi every year during Ganesh Chaturthi supplies the idols to many organisations and people in the city. "As far as I know, there are four to five big mandals organised in Delhi every year," says Shinde. "The idols I get are 70 per cent eco-friendly. It is made of clay from sea and dissolves in water easily. There local idols also sold on the roads in Delhi but I get around 200 every year from Mumbai," says Shinde.

The sculptor says the cost of the idols range with their sizes. "Many celebrity families also buy from us, including Natasha Nanda's family (Raj Kapoor's family in Delhi) who buys idols around four and a half feet. The idols costs Rs 50,000 per feet," says Shinde. "We have got a ten feet tall Ganesha idol from Mumbai which will be established in the Ramesh Nagar pandal of 'Delhi ka Raja' after the 'Shobha Yatra'. We take Ganesha for a round of the locality. The procession continues for 10 to 12 hours and goes through various places," says Deepak Bhardwaj, trustee, Gayatri Navyuwak Mandal Managing Committee.

Bhardwaj says that there are around 10 to 12 pandals organised in Delhi. "Pandals are organized in Uttam Nagar, Karol Bagh, Rani Bagh and various other places. This time one pandal is coming up in Pitampura as well. All the programmes will be good. We all believe in devotion and that is what we are doing," says Bhardwaj. Maharashtra Sadan, Dilli Haat, Laxmi Nagar and Gurgaon are also the other places where the pandals would be erected.

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