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Ayodhya Ram Mandir and Shivaji Maharaj's coronation dominate Ganeshotsav 2023 - Times of India

Ayodhya Ram Mandir and Shivaji Maharaj’s coronation dominate Ganeshotsav 2023 – Times of India

MUMBAI: The upcoming Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and the 350th anniversary of Chhatrapati Shivaji’s coronation are dominant themes across public pandals at Ganeshotsav 2023.
Young moortikar Siddhesh Dighole laughed and said, “Itne saare Ram hain is baar! I have carved such idols for Chandanwadi and the Ulhasnagar Boxer mandal.” However, he pointed out that no idols resembled Shivaji Maharaj — the coronation theme was restricted to the set. But several mandals had carved the Ganpati idol in Ram avtaar.
Prominent mandals in Lalbaug-Parel from Lalbaugcha Raja to nearby Ganesh Gully and Chinchpokli Cha Chintamani have drawn on these subjects that are perceived as important to the Hindutva cause.
The 22-feet idol of Mumbaicha Raja of Ganesh Gully will be enthroned in a 40 feet x 150 feet replica of Raigad fort. Mandal secretary Swapnil Parab said, “Our members even visited the original fort and brought back soil from the site to sprinkle here before we began work. Raigad fort is a signature emblem of ‘Hindavi Swaraj’ for it was the seat of Shivaji Maharaj’s coronation. He also died there. Our art director Aman Vidhate has included two local shrines, the nagarkhana, Shivaji’s samadhi as well as elephants and horses to give the real feel of ‘Shivkaal’. Our karyakartas are breathing in that era day and night!”
Mumbaicha Raja will invite fort conservationists, Shivaji historians, researchers and Shahirs (ballad singers) to perform the evening aarti by rotation.
Lalbaugcha Raja has carved the grand gate of Raigad fort at the pandal entrance. Mandal president Balasaheb Kamble said, “The establishment of Hindavi Swaraj remains a moment of celebration. Art director Nitin Desai designed the beautiful Shivkaal throne, nagarkhana and backdrop for our deity before he passed away recently.”
Moortikar Reshma Khatu has carved an exquisite detailed tableau of Shri Ram Parivar for the 104-year-old mandal of Chinchpokli Cha Chintamani. She said, “I’d say 90% of mandals have opted for either Ram Mandir or Shivaji Maharaj this year! Chinchpokli presented me the classic photo of Lord Ram flanked by Sita and Laxman with Hanuman at his feet. We executed that design which has come out beautifully.”
Chinchpokli secretary Santosh Sohani said, “We chose this theme because we are very pleased that the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya will be inaugurated next year in 2024. And our 22-ft tall Ram avtaar idol is a celebration of this occasion. The Chintamani Darbar will be grand and opulent.”
The Khatu workshop has also fashioned a unique idol of Lord Ram in ‘banvaas’ (exile) mode for the Dharavi cha Gajvakra mandal.

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