Exporting Ganpati

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The Shiv Sena’s been trying to drum up some enthusiasm for Lord Ganesha in Kerala, with amusing results. For the past two years, residents of state capital Thiruvananthapuram have been perplexed by looming, resplendent images of the elephant god peppered across the city’s choked neighbourhoods. During the 10-day Ganeshotsav, the Sena and its several branches across Thiruvananthapuram set up pandals. The Ganesha sculptures, some over 30 feet large, slowed down traffic and crowded out sidewalks during the pre-Onam shopping rush, singularly the most important festival season in the state. “These Shiv Sena people are just trying to get more votes, nothing else, what do they care about Malayalees,” said one resident. Many traders complained they were simply forced to donate money to the pandals.