The Hindu festival traditionally ends with devotees leading massive processions to the Arabian Sea to immerse elaborately decorated figurines of the much-loved elephant god into the water.But this year’s celebrations are expected to be muted, with authorities in the virus-plagued city urging people to mark the 10-day festival at home in a bid to ensure social distancing.”As our pottery sales dwindled, I decided to make Ganesha statues… as a means of survival and also to promote environmentally friendly [alternatives],” 40-year-old Galwani told AFP.Activists have long criticized the practice of immersing the idols in the sea, arguing it contributes to water pollution, and Galwani agrees. Topics : Since the coronavirus pandemic clobbered his pottery business, one Muslim artisan from India’s largest slum has turned to a Hindu god to revive his fortunes by making environmentally friendly Ganesha idols for an upcoming festival.Potter Yusuf Zakaria Galwani works with his two brothers in the Mumbai shanty town of Dharavi to create 13-inch-tall statues out of terracotta clay, counting on the god — who is revered as the remover of obstacles — to give his business a much-needed boost ahead of the celebrations.Ganesh Chaturthi — which kicks off on Saturday — is embraced with gusto in India’s financial hub. “Every year, we see huge Ganesha statues made from plaster of Paris washing up on the shores after the immersion. This affects our local environment and marine life as well,” he said.His clay creations are designed to disintegrate quickly and turn into soil. They also contain a seed inside which can germinate if watered like a plant.Sold for 1,500 rupees ($20) each, Galwani has received orders for 800 statues so far and hopes to see his neighborhood bounce back economically after tackling the virus.Made famous by the 2008 Oscar-winner “Slumdog Millionaire”, Dharavi was thrown back into the spotlight in April over fears that the lack of social distancing or sanitation in its densely packed streets would make it an easy target for the virus.But a sharp focus on testing accompanied by tough quarantine and lockdown measures have seen infections plunge across the slum. “Previously I lost business as customers were wary of stepping into the slums,” Galwani said. “Now, things have changed and they’re willing to even come and pick up their own orders.” A third-generation potter, he said he saw no conflict in practicing his faith while catering to the needs of Hindu worshippers. “What’s the big deal if I am a Muslim making statues of Hindu deities like Ganesha? India is a secular democracy and we have grown up with many cultures living together,” Galwani added. Although officials have not issued an outright ban on sea immersions this year, they have imposed restrictions on local celebrations. Devotees are barred from making public offerings to the deity and organizers have been ordered to sanitize any outdoor marquees several times a day. India has registered over 2.6 million infections — the third-highest in the world — with western Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, responsible for a fifth of coronavirus cases nationwide. Pandemic deaths across the country passed 50,000 on Monday.
England midfielder Frank Lampard has retired from international football after winning 106 caps.The 36-year-old was released by Chelsea in May after 13 years at the London club and he signed for New York City before agreeing to move to Manchester City on a six-month loan deal.Lampard scored 29 goals for England and captained the team in their last group match against Costa Rica at this year’s World Cup in Brazil.”I have taken the decision to retire from international football,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.”It has been a very tough decision for me to make which is why I have given it so much thought since the World Cup. I have always been exceptionally proud and honoured to represent my country and have to say looking back I have enjoyed every minute of wearing the England shirt.”Lampard said it was time put his family first given that he was soon to be playing in the United States. “Also, to concentrate on how I can perform consistently to the best of my abilities over my next few years in club football,” he added.”It is now the time to move forward and I feel very confident that with Roy Hodgson in charge, the young players that we have coming through, and the changes that are being made throughout the development of the youth system in this country, that we will have success in the future and a team that this country deserves.”England captain Steven Gerrard ended his long international career last month.Lampard made his international debut against Belgium in 1999, going on to play at three World Cups and two European Championships.He make headlines at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa when he had a goal wrongly disallowed in a second-round clash with Germany, a match England went on to lose 4-1.