The artistes behind Mumbai’s most famous Ganesha idol

Three generations of Kambali family have been making unique idol for 82 yrs. On Tuesday, the mandal hosted ‘padya darshan’ of the Ganesha for the devotees. The darshan symbolises an official beginning to the work of making the idol and other works of the mandal.

Written by Neha Kulkarni | Mumbai | Published:June 14, 2017 3:01 am
A ‘padya darshan’ of the Ganesha was organised at Lalbaug market, in Mumbai on Tuesday. Prashant Nadkar

For 82 YEARS, makers of the Sarvajanik Ganapati—Lalbaugcha Raja—have been binging Mumbai’s most famous Ganesha idol, in all its majesty, to devotees. The three generations of Kambalis have put a smile on Bappa’s face and a twinkle in his eyes.

“It was my grandfather’s initiative to keep Bappa’s posture with a smiling face on the top and a human body with a flat stomach. It was his creative liberty to not make the Bappa with a bulging belly or look fat in any way. We have followed the tradition,” Ratnakar Kambali (76), the second generation of the family said.

On Tuesday, the mandal hosted ‘padya darshan’ of the Ganesha for the devotees. The darshan symbolises an official beginning to the work of making the idol and other works of the mandal.

“Like always, we will be making the idol in a manner as made in the past. After taking blessings of the right foot (made with shaadu maati) of the Lord, we will commence upon the work and expect to finish the same by July end. No specific change in design of the Lord has yet been planned,” said Santosh (42), son of Ratnkar.

The Lalbaugcha Raja’s height was finalised to be 14 feet tall after having experimented with lesser heights in the initial years. The idol is shown seated on a throne, with four hands. A silver coated mouse is placed at the feet of the idol.

“It is a challenge to retain the same posture and design for so many years. Till today, I try to maintain utmost care before making the eyes of the Lord as they need to be perfect and cast a sight upon each devotee. Fulfilling peoples’ expectations can be challenging,” Santosh added.

In 2011, the Kambalis filed for a patent as he believed the name and design were being recreated elsewhere without due permission. “Along with Lalbaug, we have taken the idol (remade in fibre) to different corners of the world including United States of America, Australia, Holland and others. It was necessary that the creative design we have given to Bappa remains unique,” Santosh added.

Apart from the Raja, Kambalis have been making other famous Sarvajanik Ganapatis for Kolhapur, Ratnagiri and 18 other cities. During other days, they make other idols for different organisations including certain functions at Shirdi temple. Kambali’s clients include politicians, Bollywood stars and policemen.

“Things are much easier now. Different from the specific color shades available in the market, we had to attain the specific color by mixing different colors,” said Ratnakar. They are paid Rs 96,000 for making the Raja.

The family recalls fighting different odds to have reached this position. “Many a times, we would be faced with sutak (a period when one cannot go near any idol after someone dies in the family) just before the final day of delivery of idol is near. We have overlooked these problems to ensure we remain professional in our jobs,” Ratnakar added. The family does not approve of the idol made in different shapes and sizes. “The Lord must look like the deity himself,” Santosh remarked.

For all the latest Cities News, download Indian Express App

  1. No Comments.