More than 1.5m attend Hindu festival in Hyderabad

Hundreds of statues from various parts of Hyderabad were being carried to water bodies for immersion

Hyderabad: The Hindu festival of Ganesh was underway in Hyderabad on Sunday, amid tight security.

Thousands of people were participating in the centralised procession, “Shobha yatra”, from Balapur on Hyderabad’s fringes to Hussain Sagar lake in the heart of the city.

Hundreds of statues from various parts of Hyderabad, its twin city Secunderabad and surrounding areas were being carried to water bodies for immersion, marking the culmination of 11-day festivities.

Statues of the elephant-headed Hindu deity, in different sizes and avatars, were being brought to the lake on trucks amid slogans from devotees as police maintained a tight vigil.

More than 1.5 million people were expected to participate in the daylong procession.

According to officials, 14,000 statues were installed in ‘pandals’ or makeshift structures at public places while an equal number of statues were put up without registration.

The majority of these statues were to be immersed in Hussain Sagar lake.

The main procession began from Balapur with the traditional auction of ‘laddu’. Resident Srinivas Gupta bought the ‘laddu’ for Rs1.66 million (Dh6 million).

About 20,000 policemen have been deployed as part of the massive security arrangements for the annual procession.

Director-General of Police Mahender Reddy and other top officials were monitoring the procession in Hyderabad and other major towns in Telangana at the state command and control centre, connected with CCTV cameras.

The police chief said they were using technology for effective monitoring to ensure peaceful and smooth conduct of the processions.

In Hyderabad alone, 250,000 surveillance cameras were being used to monitor the procession from Balapur to Hussain Sagar.

For the second year in a row, the tallest statue began its journey early.

The 17-metre-tall Ganesh installed at Khairatabad was carried on a trailer truck.

After covering the 4km distance, the statue reached Hussain Sagar lake by afternoon.

During the previous years, the tallest statue used to be the last to begin its journey for immersion and the process used to stretch on to the next day.

However, police persuaded organisers to start the procession early for smooth conduct of the immersion.

Authorities have deployed 200 cranes, including 51 static cranes, at Hussain Sagar and other water bodies for the immersion festival.

According to officials, over 50,000 statues of various sizes were immersed over the last two days. The majority of the statues was expected to be immersed on Sunday.

Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has deployed 10,000 sanitation workers across the twin cities.

According to GHMC commissioner M. Dana Kishore, one action teams was deployed every three kilometres along the 370-km procession route (all processions from different points).

Two teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, 38 fire tenders, 12 boats and 10 swimmers were deployed to deal with any emergency situation.

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