Lucknow: People in Lucknow have rolled out the red carpet for Ganapati, whom Hindus see as the protector and do-gooder among the pantheon of millions of other gods.
Maharashtra, the traditional seat of Ganesh festival, may be fairly far from Lucknow but that has not dimmed the charm of the festival in the Uttar Pradesh capital.
People in Lucknow have rolled out the red carpet for Ganapati, 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 Ramadheen Inter College organisers 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, organisers are eyeing a mammoth crowd of over seven lakh people.
The Shri Ganesh Prakatya Committee -- the organisers 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, convenor of the Ganesh Mahotsava here 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 begins Monday and concludes Sep 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 organiser.
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 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 was never seen before," said Raj Kumar Mishra, a resident of Sitapur road.
Sudheer Bhadauria, an ardent devotee of the elephant-headed god, said he is organising the Ganesh festival in Mainpuri and expects a large crowd.
With the Lok Sabha polls just a few months away, organisers said politicians are donating generously so as to get the blessings of Ganesh.
Sujit Pal, an artisan from Ravindrapalli who has been making Ganesh idols for years, said 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 organises 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.
The falling rupee has also had its impact on the festivities as a Ganesh idol will hold a weighing scale with dollar imitations on one and rupee on another!