Hyderabad’s tallest Ganesh idol is again centre of attraction

After a year’s gap, Hyderabad’s tallest Ganesh idol returned to hog the limelight at this year’s Vinayaka Chaturti festivities, which commenced on Friday.

The organisers have installed a 40 feet tall idol this year at Khairatabad, considered the focal point of the 10-day-long festivities in Hyderabad.

Though a lot taller than the 9 feet idol installed last year during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the size has come down compared to pre-pandemic years.

The pandemic appears to have impacted the celebrations this year too. In 2019, the idol was 65 feet tall and as per the tradition followed by the organisers to increase the height by one foot every year, there were plans to install a 66 feet tall idol last year. However, due to the ban on public celebrations in view of the pandemic last year, they decided to install only a 9 feet tall idol.

The last time the organisers had installed a 40 feet idol was in 2001. They say challenges in carrying the idol for immersion have forced them to keep the size at 40 feet this year.

Though Khairatabad is not far from the Hussain Sagar lake, where the immersion takes place, the organisers and authorities face a gigantic task in arranging the logistics to transport the idol safely to the lake before immersing it. Every year, the process involving huge cranes takes several hours and on couple of occasions it stretched to even the next day.

Last year, the Ganesh Utsav Committee had taken permission from the government to build a 9 feet idol because it had allowed only three feet tall idols.

Every year, the Ganesh idol built at Khairatabad attracts attention for not just its size, but also the theme with which it is made. Last year it was in Dhanwantari (Lord Maha Vishnu) model.

The organisers this year choose ‘Pancha Mukha Rudra Maha Ganapati’. According to the Ganesh Utsav Committee chairman C. Sudershan, over 100 skilled artisans from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra built the idol using plaster of Paris. It took four months for them to complete the task.

The committee spends Rs 60 to 70 lakh on making the idol every year. Institutions and individuals come forward to give donations while devotees also make offerings.

Thousands of devotees from various parts of Greater Hyderabad and even other districts descend on Khairatabad to have darshan and perform puja. About eight lakh devotees are expected during the 10-day festival.

The police have made elaborate arrangements to ensure smooth conduct of the festivities. About 2,000 policemen have been deployed as part of the security arrangements around the venue.

According to the organisers, the practice of installing the idol at Khairatabad began in 1954. It was only an one foot tall idol then, and the size and celebrations kept growing ever since.

Every year, the Governor along with some state ministers offer the first puja on the inaugural day. Various government departments also join hands to ensure smooth arrangements for devotees during the festivities.