Hyderabad: The historic Hussain Sagar Lake will get a breather this year with the Telangana government banning Ganesh pandals, mass gatherings, processions and immersions. The lake, which is older than the city itself, usually witnesses thousands of immersions during the 10-day Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations.
This year the state government has also urged people to celebrate the festival indoors. According to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), over 80,000 Ganesh idols of various sizes were immersed in the Hussainsagar Lake last year, resulting in between 1200 to 1500 tonnes of waste being collected from the lake post festivities.
Giant cranes are installed around the Tank Bund road each year for the immersions of idols and over 200 are typically utilised to transport garbage after the immersions.
As bad as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is, environmentalists however said that that fear of the virus has given the Hussain Sagar lake a break from the yearly immersions. The Ganesh Chaturthi festival began this year in a different way in Hyderabad, with the first day of the festivities witnessing a huge footfall in.
Markets, which typically see a lot of hustle bustle with shoppers, witnessed fewer customers, as many people this time around are buying only eco-friendly Ganeshas and small size murtis (idols).
Speaking to siasat.com, Ms. Kalpana Ramesh, a water conservationist who started the project ‘Live the Lakes’ said, “Covid-19 has made us pause in our tracks and rethink how we look at religion and festivals. People should start questioning if we need pandals. The tradition of celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi started with the aim of building a sense of community. But gradually, we got so lost in rituals that we forgot the true essence of the festival.”
Stating that people are already taking a step in the right direction, Madhulika Choudhary, who heads Dhruvansh, an NGO, pointed out that the number of Plaster of Paris idols (POP) have also come down. “People, thankfully, have embraced clay idols which do not cause any pollution. Through my campaign, we reach out to children and residential complexes showing how the immersion can be done within their premises,” she added.
Every year the GHMC collects more than 1,500 tonnes of waste during the Ganesh Nimarjan (immersion) from the Hussain Sagar lake. But this year there will not be any such garbage in the lake, which will have a positive impact on the water and greenery around the Tank Bund as well.
The Hussain Sagar was built during the reign of Ibrahim Qutb Shah (1550-80), the third ruler of the Golconda (or Qutb Shahi) kingdom, before Hyderabad was founded (in 1591 by Ibrahim’s son Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah). The water body is believed to have been constructed by the Sufi-engineer Hussain Shah Wali in the late 1560s, and is named after him. Wali was also married to one of Ibrahim’s daughters and his Dargah is located at Shaikpet.