Indian worshippers bid adieu to elephant god

Mumbai (AFP) –

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Hundreds of thousands of worshippers thronged the streets of Mumbai on Thursday for the immersion of thousands of elaborately decorated effigies of the Hindu elephant god Ganesha.

It was the culmination of an 11-day festival honouring Ganesha across India but which sees the biggest celebrations in India's seaside financial capital.

Thousands of Ganesha idols, some 24 feet (seven metres) tall, were carried by devotees down to the Arabian Sea or to artificial ponds for a final immersion.

"It is a sad day as Lord Ganesha bids us farewell. I am visiting the final immersion with my friends to bid farewell with music and colour," Ravi Rathod, a shopkeeper told AFP.

Police deployed more than 50,000 officers assisted by drones to ensure security and have closed several of the city's rickety bridges to prevent collapses.

"Anticipating the crowd turnout, we have over 8,000 officials monitoring sixty-nine immersion sites across Mumbai's beach-fronts to ensure smooth operations," Tanaji Kamble, a spokesperson for the city's disaster management unit told AFP.