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Thousands of people have been queuing to pray at a nine-foot statue of the Hindu god Ganesh as part of a religious festival.The statue, which is claimed to be the biggest of its kind in the UK, is being displayed at Shree Sanatan Mandir temple, in Weymouth Street, Belgrave, Leicester, as part of the Ganesha Chaturthi celebrations.The festival marks the birthday of Ganesh, worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. 

Staff at the temple ordered the clay sculpture, which took four months to build, from Mumbai

It was shipped over to arrive in time for 10-day festival, which began on Saturday.

The statue, which is biodegradable, will be taken to Liverpool on Wednesday and immersed in the River Mersey to symbolise Ganesh’s return to his parents and spiritual home.

Festival organiser Vinod Patel said this year’s celebrations were the biggest yet in Leicester. He said: “Every year we try to make the statue bigger. “It is the largest one in the UK this year and we’ve had thousands of people coming to see it. “Some have been queuing up for a long time to get inside the temple. “We had people making it in India for months because we wanted to make this year’s statue as impressive as possible.

“I went over to Mumbai once it was done and we then shipped it over. It was hard work getting it inside the temple but it has been worth it. “This is a very important festival and it brings good luck to thousands of people who pray to Ganesh. “He is the most wise which is why we pray to him first.”

Temple president Ramanbhai Barber said: “We’ve had five or six-foot statues before but this is the largest. People have been coming throughout the day to pray to Ganesh. “He is the remover of obstacles and brings good luck so people come to him to help with their problems.”

Thousands of people from Leicester are expected to join the gathering in Liverpool, where Ganesh statues from around the country will be released into the Mersey.

Lord Ganesh is worshipped in the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religions. Each year since 1994 a shrine has been created in Leicester to mark the birthday of the son of Lord Shiva.

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