It’s not just the cost of Ganesh idols that have sky-rocketed in Hyderabad. Even the cost of raw materials needed to offer puja (prayers) has gone sky high. On the eve of the Ganesh festival, when shopping for puja materials such as flowers, sweets, betel leaves, Ganesh Patri (sacred leaves) and fruits peaks, devotees are finding it difficult to come to terms with the inflated rates. “I used to purchase two plastic bags of flowers for Rs. 50 from my regular flower seller. This year, he is demanding Rs. 75 for the same amount of flowers. Even the clay idol maker, who sold the Ganesh idol for Rs. 20 last year is now demanding Rs. 30,” complains K. Puja, a housewife in Sithaphalmandi.
Devotees said it had become a custom for sellers to hike the rates of Puja Samagri on the eve of festivals. “It is a time-honoured practice to indiscriminately hike rates. A small packet of sacred leaves (Patri) is now Rs. 20, which is laughable but, still I had to purchase,” says Raghavendra Prasad, a Mallapur resident.
It’s just not the organisers of huge Ganesh Pandal owners and individuals who are feeling the heat. Even the apartment residential associations are reeling due to high costs. “Our yearly budget for Ganesh festival is around Rs. 25,000. This year, however, we had to spend close to Rs. 15,000 only on the idol. To conduct daily Puja for ten days replete with sacred leaves, flowers and sweets, it’s going to cost us a lot.” said B. Ravi Prakash, an apartment dweller in A. S. Rao Nagar.