The Ganesh Chaturthi Festival in Lalbaugcha Raja

by - January 05, 2018

Of all the pandals or street altars that are mounted in the city of Mumbai for the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, there is one that is especially famous and busy. Lalbaugcha Raja statue measures about six meters and every year it is remade. Because at the end of the festival it is carried in procession to the sea to be submerged in its waters, like other thousands of idols of all sizes.

Lalbaug is a well-known district of Mumbai. Its original fish market on the coast of Arabian Sea was closed in 1932. In this situation, the fishermen and vendors made a prayed to Ganesha to obtain a new permanent site for their market and their work. Thanks to the authorities, they were eventually granted land. On this, the new market was erected and then the fishermen fulfilled their vow. They installed a statue of the elephant-headed deity on the day of Ganesh Chaturthi.

That fact happened in 1934 and since then the tradition is repeated every year. Because Ganesha fulfilled the wish of those fishermen, that statue became known for fulfilling the desires of its devotees. Therefore, each new celebration became more crowded to the point of reaching the two million people in the ten days of the festival.

In order to manage this number of devotees, the organizers of Lalbaugcha Raja create two different tails. Through one people can touch the feet of Ganesha idol, and through the other one can just see the idol of Ganesha. In both cases the rows are long, but the first is longer. As it is assumed that touching the idol and making a direct offering is more effective in achieving fulfillment of desires.

From this perspective zenith, and also with some comfort, I watched the human tide pushing and struggling to get to the idol. It gave me ambivalent feelings. On one hand, one can praise the devotion and faith of these people. They are willing to wait for hours to barely observe the idol for less than 1 minute and give their coconut offering to an assistant who picks them up in a box without ever touching the feet of Gaṇesha.

On the one hand, devotees can make their donation online and also receive their blessing, but it is good to know that much of the money raised during the festival is used for charitable activities.



The statue of Lalbaugcha Raja from its origin is prepared by the same family of sculptors. The fact that the idol is new and not an image loaded with tens, hundreds or thousands of years of worship continues to influence my perception that the massive visit to the Lalbaug market is more than a spiritual event.


In this respect, it is true that despite being two weeks old, the prana pratishtha is done, the ceremony in which the eyes are painted, thus infusing "life" to the statue. I only count my impressions, which is no doubt dyed by the heat and the roar of Mumbai, but without forgetting that for years I have been a faithful devotee of Ganesha.

Hundreds of thousands of people line up to reach Lalbaugcha Raja during Ganesh Chaturthi. Those who go for the longest and slowest queue can leave their offering of money, sweets, coconuts, flowers, etc. before being quickly removed from there. Some devotees throw flowers from a distance. Others simply deposit their offerings in a kind of lateral section that is filled with bags.

Others give up heavier objects to volunteers, that goes from hand to hand until it is closer to the deity. Many parents go with their young children including babies. I saw the case of a mother who passed her 6-month-old baby to a volunteer.

As you can see, my feeling was not particularly inspiring, although my Ganesh Chaturthi experience was complete. Devotion has many facets and religion as well. Spirituality, in essence, is beyond all these rituals although for some people they are necessary and useful. It is said that there are two points of view. In India, that is true and also falls short. The points of views are infinite.

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53 comments

  1. what a beautiful shot and great words!

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  2. BEautiful image , with gorgeous light and colors .
    Very emotional !

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  3. A nicely arranged shot with excellent exposure and presentation. Fine image.

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  4. I have so many ganesha murti at home and i still feel I don't have enough :) beautifully written and beautiful, shots!

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  5. After long time reading your lovely article on festival and rituals of our very own culture... it’s a delighted post with colorful pictures of Ganesha. Keep it up bro :)

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  6. Thank you for comment on my blog.
    You have so many nice pictures!! Have a nice evening!

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  7. Kalyan, hello!

    Ah, I missed your pictures: and these are marvellous!

    I am reading about Atma and Maya (even though it is the earthly existence of human beings it also implies a bit of illusion; as if it reminded us that life on earth is illusory - did I understood it correctly?).

    I love the flower decorations: they are so rich and sophisticated.

    Oh, Kalyan...it is not fair to show these pics of gorgeous food lol: you know I love Indiann food and sweets. Did you know that because of you, last year it was Indian Food Year at my house? Delicious!

    Cheers

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  8. These are beautiful pictures, especially the first. It was an interesting read, too. Thank you.

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  9. This is fascinating! I have learnt such a lot through this about your culture and traditions, and the images are gorgeous. Wonderful post, thank you!

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  10. Lovely pictures looks so vibrant and beautiful.

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  11. Wow, absolutely stunning image!
    Greetings from Sweden
    /Ingemar

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  12. Beautiful pictures. Great post.

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  13. That is a lovely image, this hand with a light... Thanks for visiting my blog, and for leaving a comment on my picture of peace on fire... ;)

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  14. Your posts are so informative - and full of gorgeous photos!

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  15. Happy Ganesh Chaturthi!

    These are some beautiful shots and nice history of Ganeshji :)

    BTW, thanks for dropping by my blog.

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  16. Beautiful words, and such a wonderful photograph!
    Sending you wishes for a fantastic weekend!

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  17. This is a magical and stunning shot that breathes serenity.

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  18. Thank you for stopping by my blog. Please stop by on Saturday for more pictures - Saturday Scenes from Gibsons, BC Canada

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  19. Ganesh Chaturthi Greetings!

    and thanks for sharing this note :)

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  20. what a wonderful tribute to Lord Ganesha. such a beautiful deity.

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  21. You've captured it so wonderfully well, the lights and the background. too good :-)

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  22. Beautiful photos! I learned a bit about Ganesha from the Simpsons and researched a bit to know more.

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  23. Hi Kalyan, thank you for your visit to my blog. Your blog is colorful, love it:)Following you, loves:)

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  24. My dream is to own a camera that takes shots like that....and then to have the knowlegdge and the eye to pull it off. Lovely.

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  25. Nice image and appropriate explanation!

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  26. Wonderful post. Wish you Happy Ganesh Chaturti.

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  27. I very much enjoyed browsing around your blog. Very nice! Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

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  28. thanks for commenting! :) I love your blog, all contents are amazing <3
    follow me if you love to, and i'll follow you back :)

    http://mithakomala.blogspot.com/

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  29. I lived in Singapore, all my Indian friends had elephant statues.

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  30. the different images of ganesha were wonderful with the sharing the history of our deity ganesha.

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  31. THANK YOU so much for stopping by on my blog, appreciating my thoughts and LEADING me to your creative and talented domain.
    If i say that the shot is beautiful, amazing... with all it's effect i might sound cliched.
    Instead let me share the joy that i feel.
    Also this moment now when i am through with the day's this and that the shot evokes in me the feeling of peace and calm.
    As i gaze, the light of the lamp and the hands that hold the lamp, my thoughts are directed not only towards a talented but kind soul but also towards HIM who protects and blesses...

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  32. So nice of you to visit my blog.
    Awesome clicks.

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  33. He is all over my house, one big statue of Ganesha in my garden and many smaller wood crafts of him inside my house.

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  34. Lovely shot!
    I'm having my summer holiday in Malaysia at the moment.
    I am planning to visit some Indian temples. :)

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  35. Lovely. My son and a friend are attending a friend's wedding. They are Indian and will be dressed in traditional Indian garb. Head to toe. They will be caring a large figure of Ganesh around the room. He is very excited.

    Melanie

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  36. An interesting post, with wonderful images and excellent explanation!
    Happy Tuesday!

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  37. What a stunning photo! You have a wonderful eye and are so creative. Nice job.

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  38. nice post on god ganesh

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