Hindus begin Ganesha festival celebrations


MUMBAI — Hindus across the world on Wednesday began celebrating the Ganesha festival, the annual worship of the elephant-headed god, with major celebrations in the Indian city of Mumbai.

For weeks craftsmen have been fashioning intricate statues of the deity for followers to buy, take home and pray to in the hope of an auspicious future. The idols, some of which are as high as 20 feet (six meters), depict the one-tusked, four-armed Ganesha sitting and holding a sweet delicacy in one hand and his broken tusk in another. They are ritually immersed in water at the end of the 10-day festival. In Mumbai, huge crowds are expected the day after the festival at public events with dancers and singers in colorful costume, particularly at the resort of Chowpatty Beach.

This year, many idols of Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and the goddess Parvati, have been made from biodegradable clay and sold unpainted or decorated by non toxic watercolors to cut pollution.

Security is expected to be tight, with the festival coming closely after the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and bomb blasts in July blamed on Islamist extremists in Ahmedabad and Bangalore.