India is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions, which are Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. It is a land of faith, spirituality and mysticism. In Mumbai alone, there are a number of religious structures, which include Buddhist and Hindu temples, Islam mosques, and Christian churches. An important Hindu temple that is dedicated to the Lord Ganesh is the Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Mandir or simply, Siddhivinayak Temple.
This iconic temple was built on November 19, 1801 by Laxman Vithu and Deubai Patil. The Patil clan used to be among the wealthiest in Mumbai; sadly however, they are now in deep poverty, making their homes near the temple, despite the fact that the temple is now one of the richest temples in the country. Deubai Patil was a rich childless woman who decided to finance the construction of the temple as a form of prayer to give barren women like her a chance to bear children. She never had a child.
When it was consecrated in 1801, the temple was just a tiny, square structure with a dome-shaped tower. The 2,550-square-meter temple complex included a rest house, living quarters and an adjoining lake. It also had a small hall or sanctum where the shrine for Lord Ganesh was located. The image is called Siddhi Vinayak, which means “Ganesh who grants your wish.” Wooden doors with eight carved images of Ganesh lead the way to the sanctum. Inside are a gold-plated roof and a central statue of the same Hindu deity. Within the temple complex is a Hanuman temple.
The lake was dug was in the early 19th century because there was a scarcity of water in the area. It was only in the 1950s and 60s that this tiny temple received its due recognition. Its fame spread throughout Mumbai and other neighboring cities. The succeeding decades saw more and more devotees frequently visiting the temple. After 1975, it became even more popular and relevant, and as a result, the number of devotees increased significantly.
Siddhivinayak Temple is said to be a very rich temple because it regularly receives donations amounting to as much as Rs 100-150 million each year. Sadly, however, temple leaders were accused of mismanaging donation money in 2004. The Bombay High Court was appalled by such rumors and so it conducted a close investigation into the matter. The committee assigned by the High Court later commented that it is shocking to discover that there are no organized methods or principles governing the use and maintenance of the temple’s trust money. As a result of the investigation, the Bombay High Court ruled in 2006 the creation of such a system so that there won’t be any more controversies in the future regarding the temple’s trust funds.
Today, Siddhivinayak Temple maintains its reputation as one of the major temples in Mumbai; a Grand Temple that used to be just a tiny, religious brick structure. Its prestige is difficult to erase since it is now regularly visited by leading politicians and famous Bollywood celebrities who are seeking the guidance of Lord Ganesh.