I wasn’t sure what to expect when Sidhu, beaming, announced he was going to take me to see the Ganesh. We arrived and fought our way through perhaps the most tumultuous crowd I’d encountered so far. Standing at the front of this procession at 60 feet tall, an idol of the Hindu god of wisdom, knowledge and new beginnings: Ganesh. Impressed, I wrestled my camera from my bag just in time to capture it before the frenzy swept us back out of it’s view. Though beautiful, I wasn’t sure what it was for, and would remain perplexed until the day of my departure from Hyderabad.
Expecting to make the most of my last day in town, I caught a rickshaw down to the Salar Jung museum early only to be turned away by a large notice announcing the museums closure for the Ganesh Immersion. Baffled, I made my way to the lakefront, the only area for miles where something 60 feet tall could hope to be immersed. The shores of the lake were lined with cranes as far as the eye could see and lavishly decorated cars, trucks and rickshaws were pouring in from all directions, each delivering colourful Ganesh idols to the cranes. The crowds sang and cheered, burning incense and banging on drums as idols were lifted down into the water.
The immersion ritual marks the end of Ganesh Chaturthi, a Hindu festival spanning 10 days in which temporary shrines are worshipped before being immersed in the lake as a means of purification.