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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 September 2007, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Hindu god consecrated at resort
Lord Ganesha
Lord Ganesha is invoked by people starting a new venture
About 4,000 people have travelled to an Essex resort to consecrate a 6ft image of the Hindu deity Lord Ganesha.

Hindus from all over the UK converged at Southend-on-Sea to see the ceremonial immersion in the sea.

The event was marked by fire rituals, dancing, devotional singing, and offerings of sanctified food.

Organisers claim it was one of the largest immersion ceremony of Lord Ganesha, seen with the head of an elephant, outside India.

The colourful festival was organised by the Jalaram Mandir in Greenford, the Hindu Association of Southend-on-Sea, and the Hindu Forum of Britain, who all want it to become an annual event.

The event began with a procession at Shoeburyness seafront followed by the consecration ceremony in specially-erected marquees.

This is only a beginning, and we expect it to grow in numbers and content every year
Ramesh Kallidai

One of the organisers Sanjay Mistry said: "During the elaborate ritual called Yagna Hindu, priests placed sanctified butter and other offerings into a holy fire.

"This was followed by a ceremony called Garbha in which colourfully costumed women dance in a circle while clapping their hands.

"The final ritual saw the Deities of Ganesha taken out to the sea in a boat and immersed amidst chanting, singing and a shower of flower petals."

Ramesh Kallidai, Secretary General of the Hindu Forum of Britain, said: "We have the support of several Hindu organisations around the country.

"As one of the largest immersion ceremonies of this kind outside India, we certainly saw a spectacular show. This is only a beginning, and we expect it to grow in numbers and content every year."


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