On Friday, the streets of Vizag wore an unusual colour. We have grown up viewing Vinayaka Chavithi as the day when the streets are filled with people dancing and pandals of Lord Ganesha on every corner. That perception was broken last year when the Covid-19 pandemic struck the city and we had to celebrate our festivals privately at home. Things were expected to be slightly different in the city this year but as the Andhra Pradesh State Government has deemed, it is still not safe to have public celebrations of Vinayaka Chavithi in 2021 and hence, it was largely a muted affair in Vizag, with most of the families performing puja at their respective houses.
The AP State Government had earlier decided to prohibit all public celebrations of Vinayaka Chavithi, in view of the ongoing Covid-19 situation. When a petition was filed against this, the AP High Court ruled in favour of the State Government, stating that the government had the right to impose guidelines for the public’s safety in these circumstances.
On Friday, a majority of the city population adhered to these guidelines and things went on smoothly for most of the day. It was only in the evening when some of the youth ventured out in groups, carrying Lord Ganesha idols in their hands and playing loud music on their sound systems. These mini-processions passed through various areas in the city, like Kirlampudi Layout, Chinna Waltair and Seethammadhara.
These processions were heading for RK Beach where they were planning to immerse the Ganesha idols. But the city police had planned ahead and closed RK Beach for the day, turning away any visitors who tried to enter the beach.
Earlier, a few people in the city, including opposition party leaders, had protested the State Government’s decision to prohibit public celebrations of this festival. All we can hope for is that this pandemic ends soon and unlike 2021, we can return to celebrating Vinayaka Chavithi grandly in Vizag next year.