India's Mumbai commences 11-day Ganesh festival amid COVID-19

World Saturday 22/August/2020 13:18 PM
By: Times News Service
India's Mumbai commences 11-day Ganesh festival amid COVID-19

MUMBAI: Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the partial lockdown, Mumbai on Saturday commenced its elephant-god festival with several households making eco-friendly idols of Lord Ganesh at home.

The 11-day festival has been celebrated in India's financial capital with special fervor for over 100 years as the household festival became a public affair as part of the freedom struggle under the British rule.

The festival is marked with religious rituals and enthusiasm every year. However, this year the pandemic with social distancing norms has made the festival a low-key affair.

Mumbai is the second-worst Indian city affected by COVID-19.

"The biggest difference being -- many like me -- could not visit parents' house for the festival due to travel restrictions. Hence, I installed the Ganesh idol for the first time in Mumbai," said Tejaswini Hulsurkar, a social sector professional who hails from Aurangabad, an ancient town located around 350 km east of Mumbai.

The low visibility of the festival could be gauged from the low availability of Ganesh idols from vendors this year, while the flower market was almost invisible in the city, she said.

Apart from health concerns, the pandemic-led economic crisis is also reflecting on the festival with pay-cuts and job losses that have forced several cultural organizations celebrating the festival to opt for austerity measures, said Naresh Dahibhavkar, president of a federation of around 3,000-odd Ganesh festival celebrating organizations in the city.

Mumbai civic authority in its tweet said, "Let us follow all the guidelines of safety while welcoming Bappa (Ganesh idol) into our homes and hearts this year. On this auspicious occasion, we wish for all Mumbaikars to have a safe and happy Ganeshotsav (Ganesha festival)."

Greeting the people on the occasion of Ganesh festival, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "May the blessings of Bhagwan Shri Ganesh always be upon us. May there be joy and prosperity all over.