Hyderabad: The usual pomp was missing as Ganesha Chaturthi began on a subdued note on Saturday in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in view of COVID-19 pandemic.
The 10-day festival started under the shadow of the pandemic, with the devotees confining the celebrations to their respective homes.
As authorities banned installation of idols in public places, the puja and other festivities were restricted.
The festival began on a lackluster note in Hyderabad, which ranks only after Mumbai in terms of the scale of the annual festival.
For the first time in over four decades, no pandals or makeshift tents were erected at public places to display the Ganesha idols in the city.
The Telangana government has appealed to people to celebrate the religious festival at their homes. Animal Husbandry Minister T Srinivas Yadav urged people not to hold any public event.
According to Bhagyanagar Ganesh Utsav Samithi, the organiser of the annual festivities in Hyderabad, the traders and residents’ welfare associations have not installed Ganesha idols for the first time in four decades.
Every year, thousands of big idols of the elephant god are set up in markets, on roads, in colonies and other public places. During the 10-day festival, over 50 lakh devotees used to throng these venues to participate in puja and other festivities.
According to festival organisers, the pandemic had directly or indirectly impacted livelihood of three lakh persons in Hyderabad and other parts of the state. They included idol-makers and other workers engaged for organising the festival.
The size of Khairatabad idol this year has been reduced to just nine feet in height. It once used to be the tallest idol in Hyderabad. It is the first time in its 66-year history that the idol size has been reduced. Every year, the organisers used to increase the Ganesha idol’s height by one foot. This year, the organisers had planned to install a 66-feet-tall idol.
Though the organising committee installed the idol, no public puja was conducted. Every year, the state Governor used to perform puja on the first day of the Ganesha festival.
This year, there will also be no auction of ‘laddus’ by the organisers of various Ganesha pandals or immersion processions.
Lakhs of people used to take part in the mammoth processions organised to mark the culmination of the festivities. Thousands of idols were carried from various parts of the city and surrounding areas to the Hussainsagar lake in the cithy’s heart for immersion.
Meanwhile, Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan and Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao greeted people on Ganesha Chaturthi. The Governor appealed to the people to celebrate in a safe manner by following the COVID 19 precautions.
The Chief Minister wished for prosperity and good health for people. “He prayed to Lord Ganesha that very soon the coronavirus pandemic should end and normal life restored for each and everyone in the country in general and the state in particular,” said a statement from the Chief Minister’s Office.
Rao along with his family members participated in Ganesha puja at his official residence.
Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan and Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy also greeted people on the occasion.
The Andhra Pradesh government issued guidelines for the festival and urged devotees to perform puja at their homes instead of public places.
The usual pomp and gaiety was also missing from celebrations in Vijayawada, Guntur, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati, and other places.