Lalbaugcha Raja (Marathi: लालबागचा राजा, meaning: The King of Lalbaug) is the most famous Sarvajanik Ganapati kept at Lalbaug, a prominent locality in Mumbai during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. The idol is kept for public display for 11 days; thereafter it is immersed in the Arabian sea at Girgaon Chowpatty on the auspicious day of Anant Chaturdashi.
It is believed that this idol of Ganesha is Navasacha Ganpati (Marathi: नवसाचा गणपती) (which means the “one who fulfills all wishes”) and hence over 1.5 million people visit this Ganesh Pandal daily during the 10-day Ganesha festival.
In 2018, the Lalbaugcha Raja Ganapati entered 85 years.
Facts about Lalbagh ka Raja :
The Lalbaugcha Raja Ganesh idol has been sculpted by the Kambli family for over eight decades now. The Kambli family have their workshop in a little lane off the main road in Lalbaug, not very far from where the pandal is located.
The father of Ratnakar Kambli, who is the current head of the Kambli family, was a sculptor of idols and would have roaming exhibitions at festivals across Maharashtra. He began sculpting the idol for Lalbaugcha Raja in 1935, when some of his friends recommended his name to the organisers of Lalbaugcha Raja. After his demise in 1952, his eldest son Venkatesh took over, and after his death, Ratnakar Kambli, the current head of the family, started designing the idol.
Kambli Arts makes the parts of the Lalbaugcha Raja idol at its workshop and these are then taken to the pandal where they are assembled and painted. Finally, Ratnakar, who is 73 years old, goes to the pandal and draws the eyes the height is 20 ft.
The history of the Lalbaugcha Raja has been quite famous since ancient times. It is believed that in the year 1932, the market place was closed. At that time the vendors of that place determined to make it the place of Lord Ganesha. It was with their belief that their prayers and offerings, the market was developed all again after seeking the permission from local residents and leaders. As the wish of those traders was fulfilled, they established a special idol of Lord Ganesha. Since then this Lalbaugcha Raja from 1934 is considered for fulfilling the wishes of his devotees.
Another fact associated with the Lalbaugcha Raja is that, at the time of independence when the situations were at peak, a famous event named Sarvajanik Ganeshotsava was organized. The main aim of this was to awaken people to work for the freedom of the country. It was at that time when Lalbaugcha photo was admired and prayed for endowing strength to fight for freedom. This was how Lalbaugcha Raja became famous.
Thus if you have a belief in the supernatural powers then you can surely get your wishes come true by offering prayers to Lalbaugcha Raja.
The miracles of Lalbaugcha Raja were seen since the times of freedom. People have firm belief in the blessings being received from the idol of Ganesha. They offer prayers to Ganpati photo and get their wishes come true.
When the fight for freedom was at its highest peak, Lokmanya Tilak formed a Mandal named Sarvajanik Ganeshotsava. Since that time, the Lalbaugcha Raja photo was considered for strength in order to achieve freedom. Many freedom fighters arranged social awareness speeches during this festival.
Few members of the Mandal got arrested during the struggle and after that, The Ganesh Idol of Lalbaugcha Raja was kept in the get up of freedom fighters. During the year 1946, the Lalbaugcha photo was kept in the get up of Subhash Chandra Bose. Further in the year 1947, as Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, it was being dressed. Later, after Mahatma Gandhi assassination, the Lalbaugcha Raja photo look alike him. On this note, the Mandal even donated certain amount to Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Fund.
With the gaining popularity, the number of devotees increased since 1960s. It’s then; the celebrations for the Navratri Utsav were started. On completion of 50 years, the Golden Jubilee, an exhibition showcasing the last 49 years were beautifully displayed. It attracted several devotees to be a part of the exhibition.
Personal Note :
A toxic work relationship ended for good after vising Lalbagh ka raja.