Ganesh festival high on regional channels' agenda

Television channels are trying to outdo each other in a bid to come up with the most innovative and original in coverage of the Ganesh festival....

Interactivity is the buzzword for channels during this year‘s Ganesh festival.

Regional as well as religious channels seem determined to sqeeze the most out of the 11 day festival that starts Tuesday. The god, considered the most auspicious in the Hindu pantheon, appears to have driven the channels into a frenzy of contests, exclusive coverages and creative programming. For the first time, most channels are going interactive - quizzes, talk shows, painting contests and ‘live‘ ‘abhisheks‘ (ritual baths) vie with one another for viewer attention.

DD‘s Sahyadri has devoted all 11 days its popular phone in talk show Hello Sakhi to Ganpati related issues - a ‘modak‘ (Ganesh‘s favourite savoury) special, a ‘sarvajanik‘ ganesh special, and a festival decorations special. The channel is slated to air the hit Marathi film Ashtavinayak at 2:40 pm on Tuesday with a repeat at 10:05 pm. While DD will telecast the inauguration of the Pune Ganesh festival live at 5:15 pm on 13 September, it will also be on hand to cover the ‘visarjan‘ (submersion ceremony) from key locations like Girgaon and Juhu chowpatty in Mumbai on 20 September.

Among DD‘s Ganesh specials are a talk show with well known astrologer Jayant Salgaonkar and Ganpati specials of its regular shows like Antakshari and Ek Raag Ek Rang. From 11 September, the channel will report on attractive public Ganeshotsavs across the state, says Sahyadri‘s programming head Shivaji Phulsundar.

ETV Marathi has adopted a novel tack this time round - it will commence an Ashtavinayak darshan (eight holy Ganesh shrines in Maharashtra) from 11 September, along with eight other Ganesh temples in Ratnagiri. The channel will also offer an ‘abhishek‘ (ritual ceremony) at all the temples in the names of viewers who had offered to participate in the novel scheme, says ETV Marathi business head Sameer Bhole. The ‘abhisheks‘ will be performed and telecast live on the channel between 8.30 am and 9.30 am from 12 to 19 September.

From tomorrow, ETV will also stage ballets on stories and myths surrounding Ganesh, the elephant headed god. A competition for pandal decoration has also been declared for public Ganesh pandals in Maharashtra and Goa, the results of which are to be decided by a public vote. A painting contest has also been announced, as is a quiz contest, winners of which will be declared on each of the 11 days, says Bhole. ETV is the only Marathi channel which will telecast live the ‘visarjan‘ from Pune, famed for its Ganesh idols.

Not to be outdone, InMumbai from the Hinduja stable, is ready with its 24-hour live telecast of the ‘sthapana puja‘ (idol installation ceremony) at the Siddhivinayak temple in central Mumbai. The channel has also announced a prize for the best Ganesh pandal in the city. InMumbai is also planning a webcast of its daily Ganesh coverage for the next 11 days on A similar webcast for Janmashtami had drawn over 20,000 hits from surfers in US and Europe, says the channel.

Religious channel Aastha is cashing in on the Ganesh fever too. The ‘My Ganesh‘ competition will give cash prizes for the best idol, best theme mandap. A bumper prize of Rs 21,000 and a revolving trophy will be given for the mandal with the best idol, best mandap and other decoration and arrangements, says the channel.

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