Mumbai

A 100 years on, Mumbai's Chinchpoklicha Chintamani stands tall

Bappa’s homecoming: Devotees carry the Chinchpoklicha Chintamani from the workshop to pandal, ahead of the Ganapati festival, in central Mumbai on August 11.

Bappa’s homecoming: Devotees carry the Chinchpoklicha Chintamani from the workshop to pandal, ahead of the Ganapati festival, in central Mumbai on August 11.  

The Ganesh idol holds its own despite being surrounded by the likes of Lalbaugcha Raja, has a steady stream of devotees

The Chinchpoklicha Chintamani sits comfortably in a nook under the Chinchpokli flyover. During the 10 days of Ganesh Chaturthi, its resilience will be tested further, as lakhs of devotees cram the small lanes leading up to it.

In 1920, a group of 20 to 25 men got together to start the Chinchpokli Sarvajanik Utsav Mandal . “In the initial years, Chintamani covered the area from Byculla to Sewri. The idol, however, was much smaller, just two to three feet in height,” says Vasudeo Savant, secretary of the committee. The Chintamani now sits on a throne and is about 23 feet high.

The idol at Chinchpokli last year.

The idol at Chinchpokli last year.  

Eventually, Mr. Savant says, people decided to break off and establish their own mandals. “This was the first mandal in South Mumbai. All the other mandals came up later when people broke off and established their own Ganpati mandals,” he says.

Funds for the celebration are collected from 4,000 houses in Chinchpokli. “The funds are used for a variety of activities. Right opposite the pandal is a medical centre that provides subsidised services to those who cannot afford private hospitals. We have also built a reference library to provide space for students to study peacefully. A very small portion of this space is actually used up by the pandal decoration,” says Mr. Savant.

The Chintamani rubs shoulders with some stalwarts — the Lalbaugcha Raja and Mumbaicha Raja, for instance — but has its fair share of fans. “The arrival of the idol on Sunday saw lakhs of devotees who came from far-off places. We did not even advertise its arrival,” says Umesh Nagi, president of the committee. “Faith draws people to this idol. It is called Chintamani, which means that it takes away all worries. We have never tried to advertise or market it that way. But people have experienced the change in their lives and believe in him. That is why Chinchpoklicha Chintamani enjoys the support it does.”

The committee has around 150 members, divided into two groups: the core members and the supporting members. Laxmikant Achrekar (32), a supporting member, says, “We have been working at this mandal since childhood. We used to take part in the different competitions organised during the 10-day festival. Joining the committee was a natural progression for me.”

While the average age in the committee is 50, younger generations are actively involved in the organisation. “Volunteers during the festival can be as young as six,” he says, smiling broadly.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 1:52:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/a-100-years-on-chinchpoklicha-chintamani-stands-tall/article29104368.ece

Next Story