Hyderabad, Sep 15 (IANS) The immersion of Ganesh idols was underway in Hyderabad on Thursday with religious fervour and amid rain and tight security
Thousands of vehicles carrying idols of all sizes and in different ‘avataars’ of the elephant-headed Hindu god are heading for the Hussain Sagar Lake in the heart of the city, marking the culmination of 10-day festivities.
Braving rains and dancing with gay abandon amid drum beats and sprinkling ‘gulal’ on each other, the devotees were on their way to the lake for the annual festival.
In a departure from the past, the immersion began with the biggest idol in the city. For the first time, Khairatabad Ganesh was brought to the lake for immersion as thousands bid adieu to the 58-feet idol.
Every year, the famous idol was being immersed the next day as the police and other personnel were finding it difficult to complete the affair on the same day. Though installed barely a kilometre from the lake, the sheer size was making it tough for the authorities to arrange the logistics.
As the celebrations were spilling over to the next day and causing traffic jams, police this time convinced the organisers to start the journey in the morning.
Meanwhile, the centralised procession which began from Keshavagiri on the outskirts is proceeding towards the lake, passing through communally sensitive old city and the main thoroughfares.
Over 30,000 security personnel from paramilitary forces have been deployed as part of the massive security arrangements for the immersion. The policemen include 8,000 personnel from neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
The main procession with thousands of huge idols cover a distance of 25 km and pass through thickly populated areas and commercial centres to reach the lake. Over 20 tributary processions from different parts of the city join the main procession.
With the immersion coinciding with the third and final day of Eid-ul-Azha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice, police are keeping a tight vigil to prevent any untoward incident with the help of CCTV cameras in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
Hyderabad Police Commissioner M. Mahender Reddy said cameras were installed on the main procession route to keep an eye on the proceedings.
The cameras were connected to a command and control centre to help police take immediate action on the ground to control the situation, should any potential problem arise.
Police have also deployed 23 bomb disposal teams, 30 sniffer dog teams and anti-sabotage squads.
The police chief warned that stern action will be taken against those found spreading rumours.
The main procession started with the traditional auctioning of Balapur ‘laddu’. A devotee bought it for Rs.14.65 lakh, which is Rs.4.33 lakh higher than the last year.
Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has arranged 50 cranes at Hussain Sagar for immersion of idols.
Authorities have also made arrangements for immersion of idols at 20 other lakes around the city. About 60,000 idols will be immersed, majority of them in the picturesque Hussain Sagar.
The procession brings the entire city to a standstill. Telangana government has declared holiday for offices and educational institutions in twin cities and in neighbouring Ranga Reddy district.