People in Lucknow have rolled out the red carpet for lord Ganesh, whom Hindus see as the protector and do-gooder among the pantheon of millions of other gods. One made-to-order nine-foot Ganesh idol has travelled all the way from Kolkata by a plane, while at the Ramadhin Singh Inter College  organizers have arranged LCD displays, strung China-made illuminating lights and other decorations to attract crowds.

Last year, around five lakh thronged the place. This time organizers are eyeing a mammoth crowd of over seven lakh people. The Shri Ganesh Prakatya Committee who are the organizers behind the mega event, have drawn an insurance cover of Rs 100 million for the pandal spread over 17,000 square feet. CCTVs have been put in place to ensure that the surging crowds are safe and secure. This year, Lord Ganesh would be shown in his ‘Mayureshwar avatar’ and for this the Ganesh idol would be wearing gold ornaments worth Rs 1 million, Bharat Bhusan, convener of the Ganesh Mahotsava said.

"The idea is to make this a grand event," Gupta said. Seventy specialist artisans from Chandernagar in Kolkata have been hired to create the lighting effects. A moving ‘jhanki’ (tableau) has also been designed for the festival which will begin on Monday and conclude till September 16.

Visitors will see a ‘digital’ Hanuman presenting a ring to Goddess Sita, who was held captive by Ravana. A 10-foot flower garland ‘gajra’ has been ordered for Lord Ganesh. The idol will be bathed in water brought from various rivers of the country. In Hussainganj, where a six-foot Ganesh idol has been placed, there will be musical performances by artists and dance troupes from Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi.

"Ganesh festival is a time for both fun and devotion," said Deepak Haldar, the organizer. Ganesh idols are being put up in Daliganj, Aminabad, Rajajipuram, Sundarbagh, Qaiserbagh and Chowk.Popular cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and Chhota Bheem are also on display. People said that the festival has gained prominence and acceptance in the last few years."Though Ganesh has always been the first god to be propitiated by Hindus, such grandeur and fanfare were never seen before," said Raj Kumar Mishra, a resident of Sitapur road.

Sujit Pal, an artisan from Ravindrapalli who has been making Ganesh idols for years, said that the idols are in "high demand". Idols priced between Rs 1,000 and Rs 10,000 are selling like hot cakes, while a few years back they had few takers as the festival was not so popular in the state. For some people, it is still convention and tradition over modernity and gadgets.

For the Shri Ganesh Yuva Mandal, which organizes the festival in Choti Bahu ka Thakurdwara in Tatpatti, Yahihaganj, idols would be made of clay every day and immersed in water on the ninth day.


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