HYDERABAD: The 10-day long Ganesh Chaturthi festival began on a grand scale in Hyderabad and across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh today with devotees thronging to temples and pandals to seek blessings of the elephant-headed God.
Right from morning hours, people visited Ganesh temples across the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad and offered their prayers and performed special pujas. Hundreds of devotees flocked to Khairatabad area here to get a glimpse of the city's most famous and tallest Ganesha idol, measuring 59-feet.
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Governor, ESL Narasimhan along with his wife Vimala Narasimhan performed special puja for Khairatabad Ganesha. He also extended his greetings to the people on the occasion. A 'Maha laddu' weighing 5,600 kg, specially brought from Tapeswaram in Andhra Pradesh, will be placed on Ganesha's palm with the help of a crane. Pandals decorated with flowers have been erected at almost every nook and corner of the city. According to Bhagyanagar Ganesh Ustav Samithi (BGUS), the body overseeing the celebrations, 1 lakh pandals were set up in the city.
Ganesh Chaturthi was being celebrated with religious fervour and pomp and gaiety in districts of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. As part of the festival, idols of Lord Ganesh of different sizes were set up in cities like Vijayawada, Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh and similarly in districts of Warangal, Karimnagar, Nizamabad among others in Telangana. At some places, eco-friendly idols of Lord Ganesh made with clay were also installed.
The annual Brahmotsavams, which coincides with the Vinayaka Chaturthi celebrations at the famous Lord Varasiddi Vinayaka Swamy Devasthanam at Kanipakkam in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh also began today in the temple. Along with the police force of Telangana state, forces from Andhra Pradesh will be part of the bandobast arrangements for Ganesh immersion in Hyderabad.
Over 20,000 police forces were deployed in the city, Hyderabad Police Commissioner M Mahendar Reddy said, adding forces from Andhra Pradesh and Chhattishgarh were also called in. "We have identified 310 hyper sensitive and 605 sensitive localities and staff in city police stations are being sensitised in terms of bandobast," Reddy said.
The final procession of Ganesh idols from Balapur to Hussainsagar on September 27 will be closely monitored by 400 closed circuit televisions (CCTVs), the Hyderabad Police chief said. Besides, nine para military companies, 120 patrolling vehicles, all city police and policemen from all Telangana districts, 30 bomb disposal teams, 30 sniffer dogs, anti sabotage teams have been deployed in Hyderabad.
Asked on specific input or any alert in view of the Ganesh festival and forthcoming Bakrid, Telangana Director General of Police Anurag Sharma said, "there is no specific alert or threat that has come to our notice as yet.
But, yes we are taking all precautions to maintain communal amity. We are talking to elders of all the communities and we are trying to make them understand each others' point of view so that all festivals are celebrated peacefully in a happy manner."