With the 11-day Ganesh festival all set to begin on Monday, ‘laddu’, which has become a part of the festivities, has taken centre stage. The Balapur laddu and Ganesh festival are things that people hardly want to miss. Laddu auction, which has now become common in the city, started at this place some two decades ago, and the tradition continues non-stop. This year, D. Uma Maheshwara Rao, a businessman from Tappeshwaram in East Godavari, will donate a 21-kg laddu to the idol. He will bring the sweetmeat, which is prepared at Balapur, to the city. According to organizers, the laddu will stay edible for more than 11 days.

The tradition was started in 1994 by members of the local Balapur Ganesh Utsav Committee. Kollan Mohan Reddy, a native of Balapur village, successfully bid for it for Rs. 450 in the first year. Interestingly, the same family has participated in most auctions, registering success on eight occasions from the total 19 auctions held so far.

Last year, a bidder, K. Goverdhan Reddy, got it for Rs. 7.50 lakh. “We expect between 15 and 20 bidders this year, too, and it would fetch a higher amount,” says K. Niranjan Reddy, president, Balapur Ganesh Utsav Committee. The money collected through auction is used for various developmental activities in the village. On a few occasions, Muslims had participated in the bidding, the committee member says.

“It is believed that the laddu brings good luck to the bidder,” adds Mr. Reddy.