For the first time in over 25 years, the Balapur Ganesh Utsav Samithi in Hyderabad will not auction the 21-kg laddu prasad this year. Last year’s auction had fetched Rs 17.60 lakh.
The laddu auction at Balapur that starts early in the morning of the 11th day of the puja is a major attraction every year and is followed by a procession to Hussainsagar lake, 20 km away.
With the country in the middle of a pandemic, the samithi members also decided to install a 6-feet-tall Ganesh idol instead of the usual 21-feet idol and restrict visitors.
Devotees will not be allowed to visit the Ganesh pandal during the 11-day festivities. Only committee members will be allowed to participate in the puja during the installation of the idol on August 22. A decision on the procession from Balapur to Hussainsagar lake for immersion of the idol will be decided based on the guidelines or permissions from the state government, the organizers said.
Kallem Niranjan Reddy, president of the committee, told indianexpress.com : “Due to the COVID situation, we are forced to drop the tradition of auctioning prasad. Every year, ten to fifteen persons from different parts of the country bid for the laddu, and the highest bidder takes the prasad home.”
The money from the auction is used for developmental activities in the area.
Gaining popularity with every passing year, the Balapur laddu auction has always fetched a bigger sum than the previous year. In 2018, the laddu was auctioned for Rs 16.6 lakh. A successful bid is believed to usher in prosperity to the winner of the auction. The 21-kg laddu is prepared and donated by one D Uma Maheshwar Rao of Honey Foods every year.
“We have not heard from the state government on guidelines for this year’s Ganesh Utsav. There is no word from the Bhagyanagar Utsav Samithi, too. We have decided to go ahead with a 6-feet tall idol and restrict devotees from visiting the pandal,” said Reddy, adding that the idol will be made of Plaster-of-Paris as the clay idol would not be able to hold the heavy laddu.
A few days ago, citing the pandemic situation, the Khairatabad Ganesh Utsav Samithi had decided to install a 27-feet clay idol this year instead of a 66-feet idol as planned before.
The 11-day Ganesh Utsav this year is scheduled to commence on August 22 and immersion of idols for September 1. The state government has not issued any guidelines regarding the festivities yet.
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