Hindu religious festival needs elephant-sized insurance

Organisers of three-week festival are taking no chances, given the extensive risks

Hindu religious festival needs elephant-sized insurance

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

The annual 21-day Ganesh Chaturthi festival, celebrating the birth of Hindu god Ganesh, began on September 13. With so much that can go wrong in such a massive celebration, organisers have made sure they are well-prepared with insurance cover.

The festival involves installing statues of the elephant god in homes and public spaces - these statues range from small to giant-sized. The next three weeks will also be filled with music, dance, and other celebrations, especially in Mumbai, one of the largest cities in India.

Such huge gatherings of people can be exposed to various risks, such as fire, stampedes, and crimes like theft and terrorism, so the organisers (also known as mandals) of various festivals have resorted to insurance.

According to a report by Money Control, Mumbai-based festival committees have taken out around INR6 billion (US$83.3 million) worth of insurance, a 20% increase from last year’s festival. One of the richest organisers, the Gowd Saraswat Brahman (GSB) Ganesh Seva Mandal at King’s Circle in central Mumbai reportedly took out cover worth INR2.65 billion (US$37 million) for its five-day celebrations, which will feature a 4.4-metre-tall Ganesh idol, adorned with around 90 kilograms of gold.

The insurance includes cover for the gold and jewellery, personal accident policies for devotees and workers, and third-party liability insurance for incidents such as terrorism or earthquakes. Nearly a million people visit GSB’s celebration each year.

“Last year, an idol was washed away due to heavy rainfall in Mumbai,” an official of a state-owned insurer told Money Control. “Due to that, smaller mandals have also come forward to take small-ticket covers.”

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