The 10-day-long annual Ganesh Chaturthi festival began on a low-key note on Friday with several state governments prohibiting public celebrations due to the Covid pandemic and devotees taking the virtual route to pay obeisance and join the festivities.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted people on the occasion and wished happiness and good fortune to all.
'Shri Ganesh ji is revered as an embodiment of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune in our country. May the Lord Vinayaka remove all obstacles in our endeavours!' Naidu said.
In a tweet, Modi said, 'Greetings to all on Ganesh Chaturthi. May this auspicious occasion bring happiness, peace, good fortune and health in everyone's life. Ganpati Bappa Morya!'
Ganesh Chaturthi marks the birth of Lord Ganesh, who is revered as an embodiment of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.
Covid-related restrictions dampened the festive spirit in Maharashtra as Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray asserted that people's health was more important than any festival, while the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi invited people to join a 'grand' Ganesh Pujan online.
Thackeray urged citizens to launch a strong movement against coronavirus and said he prayed to Lord Ganesh to destroy all 'evil and negativity'.
Devotees welcomed Lord Ganesh in their homes and public under the Covid cloud for the second straight year, with the government placing a slew of restrictions to avoid gathering and processions.
Physical 'darshan' of Lord Ganesh at community pandals (marquees) have been banned and only online 'darshan' or telecast from pandals are allowed.
The Mumbai Police have imposed orders under Code of Criminal Procedure Section 144 prohibiting assembly of five or more persons between September 10 and 19.
No processions of any kind would be allowed in the city during this period and devotees would not be allowed to visit Ganesh pandals either.
While the home department has issued a circular banning visits to pandals, the height of Lord Ganesh idols to be installed has been restricted as well.
Thackeray welcomed Lord Ganesh at his official residence 'Varsha' in south Mumbai and several celebrities and political leaders also installed the deity at their homes.
Naresh Dahibavkar, president, Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti, an umbrella body of Ganesh mandals that coordinates the festival between the BMC and government agencies, said: 'The festival will be celebrated with usual fervour and gaiety unlike last year as the COVID-19 vaccination drive is going on and there is awareness among people about the pandemic.'
Dahibavkar criticised the government for banning physical darshan.
The administration has put restrictions during immersion of idols as well.
In Pune, devotees welcomed the deity in their homes and at pandals but without much fanfare in view of the restrictions. Key Ganesh mandals, including five 'manache' (revered) mandals, performed 'pranpratishtha' (installation) of idols in pandals (marquees) in the city by following all COVID-19 protocols.
In the national capital, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his ministers participated in Ganesh Pujan as singers Shankar Mahadevan and Suresh Wadekar rendered devotional songs.
The Delhi government has banned public celebrations of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the chief minister invited people to join the live 'arti'.
The Goa government too has imposed restrictions on processions but allowed 'Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav' (installation of idols at pandals) this year.
Governor P S Sreedharan Pillai and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant greeted the people of the state.
The festival was celebrated with subdued fervour in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu as the colourful Vinayaka Chaturthi procession was not taken out this year too due to the pandemic which necessitated the state government to ban political, social and religious gatherings till October 31.
However, a two-feet high Manjal (turmeric) Vinayaka, was the cynosure of all eyes at Washermanpet in Chennai.
The turmeric Ganesh, weighing 11 kg was installed by the locals and Bharatiya Janata Party members.
Special pujas were performed to the decorated idol of Ganesh at the Karpaka Vinayaka Temple or Pillaiyarpatti Pillaiyar Temple, a 7th century CE rock-cut cave shrine, in Sivaganga district.
Priests at another seventh century temple -- the Ucchi Pillaiyar temple in Tiruchirapalli -- offered a giant Kozhukattai (Modak) weighing 30 kg each to Ucchi Pillaiyar and Manika Vinayakar.
Meanwhile, few activists of the Hindu Munnani -- a Hindu outfit -- were arrested by the police from several parts of Tamil Nadu when they attempted to take out a procession defying prohibitory orders.
In neighbouring Puducherry, the territorial administration has brought into effect curbs in celebration of the festival. There was, however, no ban on installing idols in public places.
Lt Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan, Chief Minister N Rangasamy, Ministers and leaders of some political parties were among those who extended greetings to the people.
In Telangana, Vinayaka Chaviti was celebrated with traditional fervour and gaiety as devotees offered prayers at homes, temples, and neighbourhood Ganesh pandals.
Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan and her Haryana counterpart Bandaru Dattatreya held an inaugural puja for the 40-foot tall Vinayaka idol at the Khairatabad Ganesh pandal in Hyderabad.