The Ganpati idol of the Gaud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) Seva Mandal at King's Circle has a unique feature. The mandal keeps increasing the idol's height every year.
"Just like a child grows, our idol grows too," said Dinesh Pai, ex-chairman of the mandal, adding that the first idol set up by the mandal in 1955 was 11-inches tall. This year, the mandal has a 17-feet high idol that will be decked up in gold and silver jewellery worth Rs16 crore.
The mandal, one of the richest sarvajanik Ganpati mandals in the city, has come a long way from the Rs 1,200 donation it received in its initial years. "The mandal has grown manifold with the Lord's blessings," said Pai.
The tradition of 'tula' offerings, where devotees give donations equivalent to their weight, is famous at the mandal. It began in 1976, when a man whose wish for a son was fulfilled donated silver equivalent to the weight of the child.
"Today, more than a 1,000 tulas are offered every day," said Pai.
The increasing offerings over the years have helped the mandal up its insurance cover from last year's Rs 50 crore to Rs 200 crore this year. While the Ganpati idol's jewellery is insured for Rs 16 crore, the pandal has a cover of Rs 2 crore and the devotees are insured for Rs 30 crore. In case of a mishap, the insurance cover helps the mandal pay Rs 10 lakh to each devotee. Even the 1,200 volunteers of the mandal are insured against injuries or death.
The mandal, which hosts the Lord for five days, serves mahaprasad (lunch) to 10,000 to 12,000 devotees every day. "Not a single devotee who comes here and wishes to perform a puja is refused," said Pai. Devotees can perform a puja from Rs 300 to Rs 5 lakh depending on their requirements.