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Ganesh idols immersed amid heavy security

Staff Reporter

Several companies of the State Reserve Police and the Rapid Action Force called in

PHOTO: SHASHI ASHIWAL

GRAND FINALE: A Ganesh idol is carried for immersion in the sea on the last day, in Mumbai, on Wednesday.

MUMBAI: Despite security alerts following the serial blasts on Mumbai trains on July 11, tens of thousands of people came out on the streets to bid farewell to Ganesha on Wednesday, the last day of the 11-day festival.

"Ganesh Visarjan," which began early in the morning with smaller idols being brought out for immersion along Mumbai's coast, was expected to continue until the early hours of Thursday morning, when the large idols would be immersed.

All roads leading to the immersion points, stretching from Girgaum Chowpatty in south Mumbai to Versova in the north and beyond, were filled with people dancing and singing. Bands played to the frenetic beat of drums as clouds of red ``gulal'' wer flung into the air as the processions accompanying the idols made their way for immersion. Security arrangements had been enhanced this year and apart from Mumbai police personnel, several companies of the State Reserve Police and the Rapid Action Force had been called in. Twelve bomb detection squads and mobile CCTV surveillance vans had also been deployed. Ambulances and medical teams were kept on call to help out in case of an emergency. The entire city was subjected to elaborate changes in the traffic arrangements to accommodate thousands of people. Around 150 roads were made one-way. Several offices worked half day and schools and colleges were closed.

As part an environmental initiative, a large urn has been installed at Girgaum Chowpatty to allow people to put flowers in it rather than dumping them into the sea.

The last day of the festival is marked by the immersion of the largest and most spectacular idols. ``Lalbaugcha Raja'' (King of Lalbaug), which is always the largest of the idols and attracts the maximum crowd, is usually one of the last to be immersed. The procession accompanying it takes almost the whole day before it reaches Girgaum Chowpatty. This year, over 10,000 Ganesh mandals celebrated the festival and ``Anant Chaturdashi'' is the last day of immersion. Three immersions, on the second day, fifth day and seventh day had already taken place.

Most of the immersions on earlier days were of Ganeshas of families and not public celebration groups.

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