Amid the extended threat of the coronavirus pandemic, the looming horror of the second wave and the anticipated threat of a third wave, the Maharashtra government has issued norms regarding Mumbai's upcoming Ganesh Festival, beginning from September 10. For the second year in succession, the iconic celebrations of the 10-day Ganeshutsav will be shrouded by the pandemic gloom. Like last year, the state has banned the mega public gatherings, gigantic Ganesha idols and pandals, to preserve the recently acquired second wave relief.
Ganeshutsav restriction in Mumbai
Touted to be the state's most extravagant and biggest public festival, the celebrations of Ganeshutsav in Mumbai are set to be capped within the preventive pandemic protocols. In a detailed notification released by the state of Maharashtra on Tuesday, the administration has restricted the height of the Ganesha idols to up to 4 feet at public pandals or marquees and 2 feet for residential celebrations.
Further, the government has urged people to observe the 10-day celebrations in a simple, unostentatious manner- with a focus on the implementation of all prescribed COVID protocols. As ordained by the government, no processions will be permitted at the start of the festival on September 10 or during the visarjan (immersion) ceremonies, till September 19.
Additionally, alarms have been raised for senior citizens and children to avoid stepping out for the visarjan ceremony. The notification details that all immersions must be performed in artificial ponds which will be created by various public and private bodies.
Promoting health camps instead of entertainment programmes
Further, the state has recommended harvesting the cultural appeal to spread awareness about the coronavirus pandemic, malaria and dengue. It suggests promoting health camps and blood donation drives instead of entertainment programmes. All operations at public pandals need to be conducted under the prime surveillance of cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation.
The authorities have strongly hinted that the level based restrictions, which may be enforced during the Ganeshutsav, will not be eased at any point. On similar lines, public mandals in Mumbai have been directed to ensure that there is no overcrowding at public pandals during the daily aartis, poojas and darshan.
For this, the state has advised popular mandals to make provisions for alternative online darshans. Mandals may also broadcast the aartis through local cable television networks, websites or social media platforms, said the notification issued by Sanjay D. Khedekar, Deputy Secretary of the Home Department.