With the coronavirus pandemic likely to overshadow Ganesh festival, the organizers of Hyderabad's popular and tallest Khairatabad Ganesh idol have decided to bring down its size this year from 66 feet planned earlier to just one foot.
Khairatabad Ganesh Utsav Committee announced on Tuesday that this year, it will install one-foot idol in view of the pandemic situation. The decision comes after committee members met with the Central Zone DCP seeking permission to build the idol, the Times of India reported. The police had raised objection to the 66-foot proposed idol, saying no mass gathering will be allowed for the next three to four months owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This will be the first time in the 66-year history of the idol that such a small idol will be installed. A one-foot idol was last installed in 1954 when the practice first began and since then, the height has been increasing by one foot every year.
Installed at Khairatabad in the heart of the city, it is considered the tallest Ganesh idol in the Telugu states and attracts devotees from various places. Last year, a 65-ft idol was installed.
Utsav Committee chairman S Sudershan said the 'Karra Puja' or puja to commence idol preparation scheduled for May 18 has been cancelled.
He said the decision to install the one-foot idol this year would be reviewed if any vaccine is developed or if it was safe to conduct mass gatherings before August 22, when the Ganesh festival is scheduled.
This year, the Utsav Committee was planning to install a 66-ft idol with 'Vishwarupa' idol with 18 faces to seek blessings of the 'Lord of Beginnings' in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
With all temples closed for nearly two months and no religious congregation being allowed, the organisers felt that if the situation continued, all their efforts to prepare the massive idol would go in vain.
Every year, the committee spends close to Rs 1 crore on making the idol. The preparation work begins 90 days before the festival. About 150 workers including painters, carpenters and artisans work on the idol.
The Khairatabad Ganesh is a major attraction in the city's annual celebrations. State Governors, ministers and other VIPs perform puja at this idol every year to mark the beginning of the festival.
For 10 days, thousands of devotees from various parts of the city and other places offer worship. The authorities every year make elaborate arrangements to shift the idol with the help of cranes to Hussainsagar lake for immersion. However, this year the celebrations are expected to be muted.