Opposing the Andhra Pradesh State Government’s decision to restrict any celebrations of the Vinayaka Chavithi festival in public on 10 September 2021, several organisations in Vizag took to the streets on Monday to protest. As part of the protests, a person drove on the roads of Vizag, dressed as Lord Ganesh.
A procession was held by the members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad on Monday in Visakhapatnam. The procession was held from the Gandhi statue near GVMC to the Collectorate. The BJP activists, in huge numbers, tried to barge into the Collectorate building, demanding withdrawal of the orders issued by the State Government. The leaders said that the Vinayaka Chavithi celebrations should be allowed following Covid-19 guidelines.
On the same front, members of the Vizag Sound and Lighting Decorator Association argued that these restrictions on festival celebrations are resulting in huge losses for their businesses. According to the members, the Covid-19 pandemic has already had a disastrous impact on their lives with no weddings or events happening for the past two years. For the association, which earns revenue by setting up lights and sound systems near the Ganesh pandals, Vinayaka Chavithi is one of the major festivals.
It can be noted that in view of the Covid-19 situation, strict instructions are in place to have no pandals at public places. The city police is to take strict action on those organisations or associations that are found setting up pandals or having any public celebrations of Vinayaka Chavithi. They have advised the citizens to stay indoors and celebrate the festival by only setting up Ganesh pandals within gated communities or apartments.
These orders issued by the State Government have also affected the lives of Ganesh idol makers, as this is their major source of income. These artists from West Bengal had arrived in the city two months back and usually stay till the end of the Dussehra festival. Now that the celebrations have been disallowed, many of them have decided to return back to their native place.
The restrictions on the celebration of Vinayaka Chavithi are there for a second year in a row. It was back in 2019 when around 2,500 Ganesh pandals were erected in Vizag, with 20 Ganesh idols made at a height of more than 35 feet.