Elephant god fest returns jumbo style

MUMBAI, India (AFP) — Workers caked in plaster are putting the finishing touches to storeys-high statues of the elephant god Ganesha in time for one of India’s biggest religious festivals, now jumbo-sized again after Covid.

The 11-day Ganesh Chaturthi festival, which draws tens of thousands of Hindu devotees onto streets across the seaside megacity of Mumbai, begins on Wednesday.

For two years authorities restricted the heights of the idols to cut crowd sizes but now they can be nine meters (30 feet) tall or more, requiring dozens of people to carry them.

That has prompted orders to start streaming back, said four-decade idol-maker Bharat Masurkar as he sat among dozens of unfinished red, green, and gold-clothed statues made of clay or plaster.

“This year, clay and PoP (plaster of Paris) are back with full excitement,” the 59-year-old told AFP at his busy workshop.

“Business was terrible for two years.”

Around the corner at a tent where extra-large Ganesha idols are made, seasonal staff clamber up wooden scaffolding to work on the figures.

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