17 drown during religious festival in India

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Devotees gather by the banks of the River Yamuna to immerse statues of elephant-headed Hindu God Ganesha in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. The immersion marks the end of the ten-day long Ganesh Chaturthi festival that celebrates the birth of the Hindu God of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. AP

NEW DELHI – Rescuers say they have found 17 bodies of Hindu devotees who were swept away in the Yamuna River during a religious festival in the Indian capital.

Fire official S.L. Sharma says the devotees drowned during a ceremony immersing clay statues of the elephant-headed Hindu deity Ganesha into the river at the end of a 10-day festival.

Sharma says the bodies were recovered Thursday, a day after thousands of devotees thronged the river banks celebrating the birth of Ganesha, who is widely worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune.

Millions of Hindus install Ganesha statues in colorfully decorated homes and specially erected temporary structures across India and worship them before immersing them in lakes, rivers and the sea.

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