Over 30 Indian worshippers drown during Hindu rituals

NEW DELHI — More than 30 Hindu worshippers have drowned in swollen rivers and in a lake in India as thousands participated in religious ceremonies in which figures of a Hindu god are immersed in water, officials and news reports said Friday.

At least 11 people drowned when their boat capsized early Friday on a lake in central India, rescuers said.

Six people were able to swim ashore in the lake in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh state, and a search was on for one missing person, said National Disaster Response Force spokesman Krishan Kumar. Kumar said 11 bodies were recovered from the lake.

The boat tilted and capsized as the worshippers were immersing a large idol of the Hindu god Ganesh in the lake, police said.

The Press Trust of India news agency said 18 other people drowned when they were swept away by flooded rivers in a half dozen towns in western Maharashtra state on Thursday and Friday. Four other worshippers drowned in Yamuna river in New Delhi during religious ceremonies.

Hindus are celebrating the birthday of Lord Ganesh, the elephant-headed son of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati. Ganesh is the symbol of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.

Boats in India are often overloaded, which leads to frequent accidents. Most boats operating in rural areas have no life jackets.

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