The most popular mandal in the city, Lalbaugcha Raja, has worked out an immersion plan for Friday.
For the first time in the history of the festival, mandal members have acquired a specially designed, electrically operated raft, which is in the form of a small ship that has a separate portion at the centre for the Ganesh idol to be seated during immersion. This portion will tilt at an angle of 45 degrees to immerse the idol 3km into the Arabian Sea from Girgaum chowpatty at 8am on Friday.
“We have spent two years acquiring and implementing this technology to immerse Bappa,” said Balasaheb Kamble, president, Lalbaugcha Raja Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal. “Earlier this year, our mandal members visited Bharuch, a city at the mouth of the river Narmada in Gujarat, where we got in touch with a private shipping company that helped us acquire the raft. After observing several trial runs in the Narmada , the raft was finally selected for this year’s immersion.”
“The main idea was to carry out the whole procession smoothly and with this automated immersion technology, the chances of any mishaps at sea are negligible,” said Kamble.
Priced at Rs28 lakh, the 19x19-foot reddish-brown raft is five-foot-high and weighs 12 tonnes. The separate 8X8-feet portion is where the 1.5 tonne idol will be placed . A 10-kg generator, which powers the raft, will tilt this separated portion at a 45-degree angle.
Previously, the idol used to be carried on a much smaller raft with more than 50 mandal members, devotees and lifeguards immersing the idol manually. “In 1934, when the mandal was formed, the idol would be taken into the sea using small boats. Over the years, the style kept evolving, until rafts started being used. Today, we have successfully implemented a mini ship with an automatic immersion technique,” Kamble said.
Mandal members have taken all the precautionary measures. Even if the electric generator fails, there is a backup to immerse the idol. Using hydraulic machinery, a manually operated handle is located at one end of the raft, which will allow the portion where the idol is seated to slowly tilt. “We will have mandal members to support the idol if anything goes wrong,” said Kamble.
In its 83rd year, the pandal has been designed as a palace (made from fibre) with a 12-foot idol, made of Plaster of Paris, which is covered in 4.5kg gold over the hands, trunk and crown. The idol also wears a gold necklace, thread and ring . Last year, the pandal was visited by 1.25 crore people over 11 days. This year, there has been an attendance of 15 lakh per day.
Almost 82 years ago, when Peru Chawl was shut down, fishermen and vendors who were ousted from their marketplace prayed for a permanent one and vowed to build a Ganpati mandal if their wish came true. After sustained efforts by local leaders and residents, the landlord agreed to give them a plot in 1934, which is the present-day Lalbaug market. The Lalbaugcharaja is perceived to be the fulfiller of wishes.
Location: Lalbaug market, GD Goenka Road, Lalbaug
Nearest stations: Western line: Lower Parel, Harbour line: Cotton Green, Central line: Currey Road
Best time to visit: Anytime during the day
Immersion venue: Girgaum Chowpatty
Tentative time: 8 am (Friday September 16)
Size of the raft: 19X19-feet in length and breadth, five-foot-high and weighs 12 tons
Acquired from a private shipping company, located at Bharuch, a city at the mouth of the river Narmada in Gujarat
Price: Rs 28 lakh
Separated portion where the idol will be seated: 8X8-feet portion that moves
Size and weight of the idol: 1.5 ton and 12-feet high
How does the raft function: A 10-kg generator powers the raft that tilts the separated portion by 45 degrees where the idol is seated and it is slowly immersed at sea
Backup function: Even if the electric generator fails, using hydraulic machinery, a manually-operated handle located at one end of the raft that will allow the portion where the idol is seated to slowly tilt.
Immersion: 3km into the Arabian Sea from Girgaum chowpatty