Hyderabad: Braving the threat of mass COVID-19 infections, the annual Shobayatra (procession) of the Khairatabad Ganesh took-off today afternoon at around1:30 p.m. The timings have been slightly advanced this year to also avoid traffic snarls, while the main idol itself is only nine-feet this year, owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Every year, the Khairatabad Ganesh procession would start early morning around 7:30 a.m., as it is the largest immersion procession. However, due to the prevailing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Ganesh Utsav Samithi, apart from installing a nine-foot tall idol, also decided to change timings. Moreover, heavy security forces have also been deployed across the Hussainsagar Lake so that the immersion is done by 3 p.m.
The city police this year also asked the asked the committee members not to bring out a large procession and complete the immersion early in view of the COVID-19 restrictions. According to Ganesh Utsav Samithi organisers of the Khairatabad Ganesh Pandal, this year, in view of COVID-19, online darshan facilities were also set up at the Pandal for the first time in history for devotees who weren’t able to visit and seek blessings from lord Ganesh.
On Tuesday, the nine-foot idol was set up on a trolley around 1 p.m., after which the procession started and began moving towards Tank Bund, via Telephone Bhavan-Secretariat-NTR Marg route. It will reach crane No. 4 which has been positioned on NTR Marg Road at Tank Bund for the immersion.
This year however, the entire process is a low-key affair, unlike the usual fan-fair that the festival is accompanied with. While several devotees have decided to stay home due to the fear of contracting COVID-19, a limited number of people however had been turning up at Tank Bund over the last 10 days to immerse idols. In previous years, thousands, if not lakhs of people, would turn up to witness the immersion.
Moreover, this year, the government also did not provide any vehicles for transportation of idols to the immersion site. Prasad distribution is also absent as well to avoid the spread of COVID-19. The Balapur Ganesh Laddu, which used to be auctioned among the public, will instead be presented to Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao, the Ganesh Utsav Committee announced on Tuesday.