This year (2021) it was finally the turn of Bollywood ‘showman’ producer-director and reality-action TV show host Rohit Shetty along with his wife Maya Shetty to sponsor the cost of the ‘ichhapurti’ idol and also offer elaborate pooja-aarti –prayers to the highly revered Andhericha Raja—Sarvajanik (Navsaala Paavnara ) Ganesha located off Veera Desai Rd in Azad Nagar – Chaitanya Padukone
The “ichhapurti “ (wish-fulfilling) idol which has a staunch massive following of lakhs of loyal common-man devotees is also among the top worshipped Ganesha deity among the Bollywood fraternity.
A large galaxy of Bollywood star-actors, models and actresses including Priyanka Chopra, Shilpa Shetty, Kangana Ranaut, Shatrughan Sinha, Ranjeet, Suniel Shetty, Nana Patekar, Anup Jalota, Raveena Tandon, Sonam Kapoor, Urvashi Rautela, Sakshi Tanwar, Shefali Zariwala and many more celebs , during the past several years, ( long before the Corona pandemic had set in) have religiously visited the Andhericha Raja pandal for ‘darshan’ and ‘aarti-prasaad’ .
It’s the only Sarvajanik idol ( now in its 56th year) in Mumbai that is immersed on ‘Sankashti’-day, few days after Ananth Chaturdashi (the final day when all other idols are immersed.)
This 56th year (2021), the organizers-trustees will bid farewell to Andhericha Raja this Friday evening on Sept 24th on the auspicious Sankashti day.
The celebrations since 2020 have been rather low-key and in strict compliance with Covid-19 safety restrictions as announced by the BMC officials.
According to Uday Salian, the spokesperson of the Andhericha Raja Samiti, it is decided much in advance. by a ‘streamlined lottery system’ as to who would be sponsoring each year’s Maha Ganesha idol.
“Actually, Rohit Shetty had booked his idol-sponsoring turn, some 18 years in advance and had patiently waited all these years for his turn.
This time children were asked to pick the lucky names of aspiring future sponsors.
Now, the sponsorship is booked right up to the year 2066, “informs Uday Salian. The Andhericha Raja Mandal has a dedicated dynamic Azad Nagar Sarvajanik Utsav Samiti is headed by ‘Pramukh Margadarshak’ Yeshodhar (Shailesh) Padmakar Phanse and comprises Chairman Keshav (Baban) Tondvalkar, Secretary Vijay Sawant and Treasurer Subodh Chitnis and various others, all backed by numerous enthusiastic local volunteers.