Lalbaugcha Raja Mandal
"LALBAUGCHA RAJA (The Emperor of Lalbaug)" is name of the popular Ganesh Idol of "LALBAUGCHA RAJA SARVAJANIK GANESHOTSAV MANDAL". The Mandal, formerly known as “SARVAJANIK GANESHOTSAV MANDAL, LALBAUG” was founded in the year 1934, at its existing place. With the consistent efforts & support of the then local Councillor-Late Shri. Kuwarji Jethabhai Shah, Dr. V. B. Korgaonkar and the local residents, the landlord Rajabai Tayyabali agreed to give a plot for construction of a market.
The Mandal was formed in the era when the freedom struggle was at its peak. Lokmanya Tilak introduced the idea of "Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav" for the awakening of people through this medium towards freedom struggle against the British Rule. Following the same, social issues were taken up along with religious duties, through this medium by the Mandal. During 1934 to 1947, series of speeches were arranged during this festival. National leader Shankarrao Deo, Labour Leader Bhai M. S. Mirajkar, Bhai Jagtap, Hindu Leader Anantrao Gadre, Bombay Congress Leaders like S.K. Patil, G.B. Mahashabde, Bhulabhai Desai were among the speakers who guided the people for social awareness.
During "Quit India" movement by Mahatma Gandhi, in 1942, the members of the Mandal viz. Kuwarji Jethabhai Shah, Dr. V.B. Korgaonkar, Hatle etc. were arrested by the British due to the involvement of the Mandal in the freedom struggle. During these years, the Ganesh idol was shown in the get-ups of different freedom fighters. In 1946, it was depicted as Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. In 1947, to celebrate Independence, the Ganesh idol was in Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's get-up riding a bullock-cart. In 1948, after assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the Ganesh idol was his look-alike.
Due to the communal riots in 1946, orders were issued to change the route of this Ganesh Immersion Procession. But, the then office-bearers of the Mandal refused to change the route and, after 21 days, the procession was taken by the same route under the supervision of then Volunteers Pandurang alias Babu Sayle, M.S.Pawar and Dattaram Joshi.
After independence, the agenda of the Mandal was modified and accordingly the Mandal decided to contribute in uplift of the Country. The Mandal donated its balance amount to the Kasturba Fund, the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Fund in 1947 and to Bihar Flood Relief Fund in 1959. The social issues were also highlighted in the plots during Ganesh Festival.
During Silver Jubilee Year 1958, two different plots viz. "GEETA UPDESH" and "KALIYA MARDAN" were set for 5 days each. In this Silver Jubilee year, eminent speakers - like M.L.Patil-Hon'ble Minister of Bombay State, Hon'ble Ganapatrao Tapase, Hon'ble Govindrao Adik, Hon'ble Maloji Nimbalkar, Municipal Corporator Dr.Narvane, Govinrao Mahashbde-Dy.Editor Navakaal, Vasantrao Kate, Govardhandas Mapara of Kamgar Seva Sadan, Kakasaheb Tambe, - delivered speeches.
After 1958, the number of devotees of Lalbaugcha Raja increased substantially. Hence, in 1960, the entertainment programmes and speeches were discontinued. In the same year, "Navaratri Utsav" was started and the programmes were organized during Navaratri Festival. These transitions were carefully and neatly carried out by Chandrakant Khadye, Chunilal Rathod, Pranjivan Mehta and Shankar More. During this period, Late Shri. Shamraom V. Bodhe handed over the Hanuman Temple to the Mandal.
During 1948 to 1968, the Mandal started some new traditions like "Shri Satyanarayan Mahapooja", "Pan-supari Samarambha (Get Together Function)". The Get Together Function is the ceremony of felicitation by offering roll of betel leaf with betel nuts, known as Pan-Supari in Marathi. During this get together, eminent personalities of different fields, office bearers of various Mandals and well-wishers are invited. This creates a friendly atmosphere for co-ordination & exchange of views for better performance of the festival and helps in improving relation among various Mandals. In this manner, the Mandal established a warm relationship with some Mandals of Kumbharwada, Durgadevi Duncan Road, Kamathipura, Khetwadi, Navi Amrutwadi, etc. The participation of local Mandals at night, was started to control heavy number of devotees.
During 1934 to 1968, Kunwarji J. Shah, Dr.V.B. Korgaonkar, H.B. Korgaonkar, Dr. U.A. Rao, Dr. Manju Madar, Ramchandra Tawate, B.D. Bandekar, Raghunath Khamkar, Pranjeevan Mehta, Rambali Halwai, Ram Jadhav were mainly responsible for development of the Mandal. The amount accumulated from the Mandal activities was mainly used for development of the nation. Mandal did its bit by contributing to the National Fund during floods at Bihar in 1959 and during the wars in 1962 & 1965.
In 1969, new generation came up with wide view under the leadership of Late Shri Vasantrao Bhosale. Space requirement arose due to great extent of workload of the Mandal. In 1970, renovation of the Hanuman Temple was proposed. Accordingly, the renovation work was commenced in 1971 and completed in 1973, along with a new office for the Mandal. In 1975, Idol of Amba Mata (Goddess Amba) was established in the temple and the religious duties of Navratri festival were carried out in the temple, thereafter.
During the Golden Jubilee Year in 1983, an exhibition was arranged in which plots of last 49 years were displayed. This exhibition was an attraction for the devotees. In the get together function of this Golden Jubilee Year, the ex-office bearers were felicitated with momentous. In the Platinum Jubilee Year 2008 also, the ex-office bearers of the Mandal were felicitated with momentous.
During the decade 1984 to 1993, the Mandal carried out many other constructive social activities. In 1990, the Mandal contributed Rs.15,000/- towards “Konkan Flood Relief Fund”, established by the Express Group for the flood affected people of Jambhulpada, based in Konkan, Maharashtra.
It is the first Mandal who contributed Rs.1 Lac to the "Army Central Welfare Fund", in 1999 for the families of the soldiers who scarified their lives to uphold the dignity of the Nation at Kargil and the same was handed over to then Governor of Maharashtra State, Dr. P.C. Alexander.
During this computer age, Mandal launched its website www.lalbaugcharaja.com in 2000. Hon'ble member of the Mandal, Shri Bharat Bhujbal conceived with the idea and took efforts to fulfill it. The information related to the festival, the social activities of the Mandal and photo gallery of Lalbaugcha Raja is available on the website. This is very useful for the devotees located in various parts of world.
Traditionally the Ganesh idols are immersed in water during its VISARJAN. Hence in order to immerse the idol of Lalbaugcha Raja, Mandal always takes proper precautions so that the visarjan takes place in a manner, fit for the Raja. Accordingly, after consulting some experts & experienced persons, Mandal has constructed a TARAFA (Iron Raft) which makes it possible to dissolve the idol of Lalbaugcha Raja in deep sea water, conveniently.