Lord Ganesh who fulfils wishes ‘booked’ till 2028 (With Image)

August 20th, 2009 - 5:34 pm ICT by IANS  

By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, Aug 20 (IANS) Nearly 15 years ago, Mumbai housewife Neha V. yearned for a child. Though she and her husband were not known to have any medical complications, they were unable to have a child. This was when they visited the famous Lord Ganesh temple in Andheri west, renowned as ‘Andhericha Raja’ (King of Andheri).

Neha stood in the queue with thousands of others seeking some or other favour from the god who is considered the remover of obstacles, and prayed that if she bore a male child, she would sponsor the 8.5-foot tall idol of Lord Ganesh the following year.

Her wish was fulfilled and the following year the couple had a male child.

She applied to the Andhericha Raja Sarvajnik Ganeshotsav Mandal (ARSGM) to complete the formalities for sponsoring the Ganesh idol. She was taken aback to learn that there was a long queue of devotees for this, too!

After a long 13-year wait, Neha’s name came up in an open lottery and she is the proud and happy sponsor of the Lord Ganesh idol for the 2009 Ganeshotsav, at an approximate cost of Rs.50,000.

Over the past two decades, Andhericha Raja is credited with fulfilling the diverse wishes and desires - from acquiring a house to a good marriage, success in jobs or business to begetting a son or daughter - of millions of his devotees.

“Presently, we have full bookings till 2028 for sponsorships ranging from the idol, the jewellery and expensive attire that adorn the elephant-headed god, to the pandal, the Prasad for all devotees, and decorations, etc,” said ARSGM spokesman Uday Salian.

Hence, the ARSGM has closed sponsorships for all categories for the next three years. But according to Salian, the present number of hopeful devotee-applicants will take care of all the sponsorships till 2052.

Andhericha Raja, considered the suburban equivalent of Mumbai’s iconic ‘Lalbaugcha Raja’ in south-central part of the city, has steadily grown in stature and the faith of the devotees over the past 43 years; 2009 is the 44th year, said Salian.

“It was in 1966 when around 50 blue-collared employees of the Golden Tobacco Company, Vile Parle West, Tata Special Steel, Borivli East and Excel Industries Ltd, Goregaon West, moved from south Mumbai to the suburban Andheri. Since it would be a long distance to go to Lalbaugcha Raja, they decided to start their own Ganesh celebrations on a modest scale,” Salian explained.

Andhericha Raja is the only major idol which does not go for immersion on the 10th day of the celebrations, which this year start Aug 23. The Andhericha Raja is immersed only on the first ‘Sankashthi Day’ which falls after Ananta Chaturdeshi.

This year, Andhericha Raja will be worshipped till Sep 8 which is considered the very auspicious Angarika Sankashthi Day, according to Salian, although all other Ganesh idols would have been immersed Sep 3.

Explaining the significance, city astrologer Milan Thakar said that Angarika Sankashthi is a holy day of fasting for Hindus and comes only twice a year.

Interestingly, the decision to immerse the Andhericha Raja was also the outcome of a wish fulfilled by a former chairman of the ARSGM, Appa Khanvilkar.

“Around 1975, he had prayed that if his wish was fulfilled, he would ensure that the immersion would take place, not on the traditional 10th day, but on the first Sankashthi Day after Anant Chaturdashi. Lord Ganesh answered his prayer in just one month, and the tradition started since 1975,” Salian recalled.

It was also from that year that Andhericha Raja acquired the reputation of ‘Navasala Pavnara Ganpati’ (Ganesh who fulfils wishes) among the Mumbaikars, he said.

Little wonder that the five kilos silver mouse at the feet of the idol is donated, as also some jewellery and other personal effects adorning the Andhericha Raja. Next year, a devotee will donate a 10 kg silver umbrella which will be installed above the idol’s head.

Besides, there are scores of gold and silver figures of houses, cottages, babies, arms, legs and other body parts, artefacts and decorative pieces, all donated by devotees whose wishes were fulfilled, said Salian.

Presently, the ARSGM is busy with the last-minute details to welcome over 150,000 devotees daily, ranging from commoners to celebrities, paupers and politicians, all of them coming to bow before their favoured Lord Ganesh, either out of devotion or to seek fulfilment of some desires.

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