Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the prominent festivals of Andhra Pradesh. Pandals, small and large, take over the streets across the state where the festival is celebrated for nine days and people partake in large numbers. The immersion rallies witness the young and old dance and cheer as they bid farewell to Lord Ganesh. With the threat of COVID-19 looming over the state, the Andhra Pradesh state government has decided to not allow any pandals, this year. Closer home in Vizag too, citizens are gearing up to ring in the festivities indoors and celebrate an eco-friendly Ganesh Chaturthi, in line with the directives.
As the pandemic has changed the face of celebrations, we interacted with a few Vizagites before they get busy kneading, stuffing, and frying. Going with the trend, Anjali Dange of Starlite Nutrition & Wellness Center has ordered her Lambodara Ganesha idol from Wings for Life Foundation, a city-based NGO. Sharing how she plans to observe the day, the dietitian says, “My mother-in-law bakes Andhra’s signature-dish ‘Kudumulu’. Being a Mangalorean, I prepare the quintessential ‘Valval’ (mixed vegetables in coconut milk) and sweet rice ‘Appo’ on Ganesh Chaturthi. I try and keep the tradition going so that my children know about the beauty of diverse cultures.” Reminiscing the happier times, Ms Dange shares, “Though we would miss the pandal hopping this time, the initiative to prohibit the pandals is a much-needed move by the authorities, given the current situation.”
For Mangatayaru N, it is all about a tradition that always almost implies eco-friendly practices. The homemaker from Murali Nagar, Vizag, says, “Stepping out often in this pandemic is not preferrable. I told my son to purchase an easily soluble clay idol from the nearby market. This time around, I’m planning to forgo the plastic umbrella and decorate the idol with flowers.”
Amid the current scenario, kids from the city too, are stepping up to do their bit in celebrating eco-friendly Ganesh Chaturthi at home. Shamita D, a 10-year-old from Aganampudi delightfully shares that Ganesh Chaturthi has been her favourite festival. “Every year we get to eat delicious ‘modaks’ on the day. I’d go to the market with my father and get flowers, an umbrella, idol and other things required for the pooja. However, this year, I’ve decided to make my own Ganesh idol with turmeric paste instead. I hope Lord Ganesha destroys the virus and bless all of us with good health.”