Goa prepares to welcome Lord Ganesh

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Panaji, Sep 13 (UNI) Goa is all decked up to celebrate the Ganesh Festival -- a community festival that is celebrated with much fanfare in this state as in Maharashtra.

Shops are doing brisk business, selling decorative items, audio cassettes of devotional songs and ''aartis'', and firecrackers.

Shopkeepers have also used the occasion to promote the sale of their other goods by offering a variety of discounts.

Artisans from Panaji, Mapusa, Ponda, Margao, Bicholim and several other places including the port town of Vasco da Gama besides Sawantwadi in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra have prepared huge idols of Lord Ganesh that would be installed for the ''sarvajanik (community)'' celebrations. There are about 45 ''mandals (groups)'' which install Ganesh idols as part of the community celebrations.

Twenty-five of these ''mandals'' are in South Goa and 20 in North Goa.

Devotees are busy decorating and giving finishing touches to the ''pandals'' where the idols would be installed.

The Goa Handicrafts Development Corporation has imported small-sized idols made of clay from Maharashtra. The Corporation has announced subsidy of Rs 15,000 to the local artisans who would sell clay idols instead of idols made from Plaster of Paris as the latter poses environmental problems. Idols, made from Plaster of Paris, have been banned in Goa. Artisans from several rural parts in the state, particularly Bicholim, Ponda and Canacona, are adept and known for their clay Ganesh idols.

A host of cultural programmes will be organised during the Ganesh Festival and entertainment troupes from Belgaum, Kolhapur and Mumbai have been engaged for the purpose.

At least a dozen ''Ghumat'', a popular percussion instrument, contests have been announced to encourage and keep alive the tradition of folk music.

''Ghumats'' are popular in the state and are played in Hindu shrines. But, they have now found a place in Christian orchestras and Konakni language theatres also. The Goa Kala Academy, the premier cultural body, has also encouraged ''Ghumat'' players to enrich Goan folk music.

There are several Hindu Shrines in the state Like Khandola Ganapati and other holy places where the eleven-day Ganapati Festival is celebrated with great religious fervour.

Meanwhile, police have made elaborate security arrangements to ensure that the Ganesh Festival passes off peacefully. A metal detector each will be installed at the entry point of all the ''mandals'' while additional forces and para-military forces have also been requisitioned in view of the festival. Besides, the ''mandals'' have been requested to install closed circuit televisions.

It is fun time for the children also as the educational institutions have declared a week-long holiday beginning September 14.

UNI

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