Days to go before the city starts celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi, hundreds of people are stopping on the road and praying to the tallest Ganesh idol in Hyderabad at Khairatabad. “We expect a larger number of pilgrims than last year. In order to reduce the rush we are letting people have a darshan of Lord Ganesh earlier,” informs S. Raj Kumar, a key organiser of the Ganesh Utsava Committee.
This year, the idol towers at 40 feet, as against the 9-foot idol in 2020 during the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. In 2019, the idol was nearly six-stories tall at 61 feet. The last time the idol was 40 foot tall was in 2001. The Khairtabad Ganesh idol installation is one of the signature events in Hyderabad’s calendar and has an air of carnival and hundreds of thousands of people turn up to see the idol. “The Ganesh installations in the area was started by Shankaraiah in 1954 with a one-foot idol and gradually the size of the idol increased every year. He started it in this room which is inspired by the architecture of Cave No 19 of Ajanta Caves,” says Mr. Rajkumar.
The organisers said they will deploy sanitiser tunnels, temperature checks and mandatory masks for all the devotees. But as thousands of devotees throng and enter the street through multiple entrances it will be a big challenge. “Last year we had a few hundred visitors though we asked people to have online darshan. Every year a few lakh devotees come to see the idol. We expect this year to be normal unlike last year,” says Mr. Rajkumar.
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