"I don't care how many grams it is, I care about my faith and the prosperity Lalbaugcha Raja has brought me. My budget is endless today," said Bandra-based businessman Pradeep Bhagnani.
He was the first successful bidder in the auction organised by the Lalbaucha Raja Ganesh Mandal, purchasing a replica at the cost of Rs 51,000. He went on to spend over Rs 2 lakh on the first day of the four-day auction, to be held between 5 pm t 10 pm till Tuesday.
The atmosphere at the auction was electric, the money representing the extent of the devotee’s faith as they were egged on by the volunteers to spend more.
The 350 items on auction on Saturday were part of the offerings made by devotees to Lalbaugcha Raja during the 10-day Ganesh Chaturthi festival.
They included silver Ganesha idols adorned with gold jewellery, which were in high demand.
"I come here every year to buy something. This year I have already bought two Ganesha idols and a swing made of silver, spending about Rs 80,000," says Veena Mukund. She had no compunctions about spending the money on her lord: "Whatever I spend here will be doubled through the year."
"I came here with a budget of Rs 50,000 and I will buy whatever fits within it," said Panduranga Ladhi, a Bandra resident who already bought a 5-gram gold ring for Rs 11,000 and was bidding for more articles.
While bidding for each article started at Rs 500, it climbed quickly as bidders vied to outdo one another. The person with the winning bid would climb the stage after removing their shoes and then return to pose with the article for the media.
Rupa Das, 31, said the auction was her annual opportunity to splurge. "Bidding might start at Rs 1,000 but we’ll get the article only at the price bappa wants us to. This is his prasad which I’m taking home," she added, having spent Rs 24,000 and waiting to bid some more.