Submitted by alvin on Wed, 2016-09-28 18:50 I think Hyderabad comes second to Mumbai when it comes to Ganesha Chathurthi celebrations. Over the years, the 11-day long festivities have become the biggest event of the city, with every nook and corner of Hyderabad flaunting big Ganesha Idols. Unlike other parts of India, Hyderabadis enjoy holiday not only on Ganesh Chauthi, but on immersion day, too. Centralised 'nimmajanam' usually held on the 11th day has become a massive event in the city. But this annual ritual of Hyderabad is facing many problems of late. Unlike Mumbai, which is a coastal city, Hyderabad has to depend on Hussain Sagar lake for the immersion of idols, and this is leading to many controversies. The issues surrounding Ganesh Chaturthi - increasing pollution in Hussain Sagar, the ongoing Metro work, which is hindering the movement of gigantic Ganesha Idols, restriction on the size of idols, ban on DJ in pandals - have grown with the number of idols in the city. In June, Telangana High Court advised on the height of Ganesha idols keeping in mind the ongoing Metro Rail work and increased pollution levels in Hussain Sagar. Following the advisory, the government tried to restrict the height of Ganesha idol to 15-feet, but it didn’t go well with Ganesh Utsav Samitis of Hyderabad. Bhagyanagar Ganesh Utsav Samithi, which sets up the very famous Khairatabhad Ganesha every year, interpreted the HC order as an advisory. So they went ahead with 58-feet tall Ganesha idol, keeping up the tradition of installing the tallest idol in the city. Other organisers, too, didn’t budge, thus crossing that 15-feet restriction on height. Khairatabad Ganesha and Balapur Laddu auction are the two main attractions of Hyderabad Ganeshotsava. For the last 62 years, Khairatabad Ganesha has been attracting thousands of devotees, as it is considered to be the most popular and tallest Ganesha of Hyderabad. Another specialty of this Ganesha is the ‘maha laddu’. Last year, a laddu weighing 6000kgs was prepared as an offering to Lord Ganesha. The laddu is placed on the palm of Ganesha using cranes and is on display for 11 days. Suruchi Foods from Tapeshwaram have been making this big laddu, which is distributed to devotees on the day of immersion, free of cost since 6 years. But in 2013, a laddu weighing 4,000 kg got damaged due to rain and was dumped in Hussain Sagar. So keeping in mind the difficulties faced in distributing the prasadam, this time the size was reduced to 500kgs. Though many famous pandals of Hyderabad auction the big laddus offered to Ganesha on the day of immersion, the auction of Balapur Laddu is very popular. The first auction in 1994 fetched Rs 450. Since then the bid amount has grown many folds. Last year, the Balapur Laddu was auctioned for a whopping Rs10.32 lakhs. Devotees believe that Balapur laddu brings good fortune which explains the high amount of bidding. The Ganesha pandals in city are growing every year. This time, the number of Ganesha idols in Hyderabad, Secunderbad, and Cyberabad put together are said to have crossed the 1 lakh mark. Among them, 20pc of the idols are 20-feet in height and the rest have adhered to the 15-feet height limit. In a bid to decentralise the immersion process and to keep Hussain Sagar clean, the government has created few artificial water bodies along other lakes of Hyderabad. The government has requested the organisers to keep away from Hussain Sagar as per court advisory. But many organisers have already clarified that they will immerse Ganesha in Hussain Sagar as they do every year. Adding to this chaos is the ongoing elevated Metro Rail work, which is going to hinder the immersion procession of gigantic Ganesha idols. The GHMC is trimming a few trees to make way for the procession, but the move has been slammed by environmentalists. Meanwhile, the HMDA is gearing up for the cleaning of Hussain Sagar Lake after ‘nimmajanam’ and has purchased a Rs3 crore machine to remove the idols from the lake. Last year, the immersion process continued for two days and the police department struggled to clear traffic snarls. Later, the cleaning of the lake and taking out the debris became a mammoth task. This was the situation with nearly 50,000 Ganesha idols last year. So one can only imagine the situation this time, considering that Ganesha idols have doubled in number this year. To me, Ganesha festival provides a lesson on living with nature. Ganesha made up of mud and worshipped with leaves and flowers returns to earth after being immersed. The most environment friendly festival has now become the centre of contention for being a pollution causing festival. How ironic!