Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has issued guidelines for Ganeshotsav celebrations in September this year. In view of the threat held out by the Delta-plus variant and the emergence of a possible third wave of Covid- 19, the government said on Tuesday that celebrations should be low-key. Ganesh mandals have been urged to erect small mandaps in line with the government rules and idols in public places can be no higher than 4ft, while at homes, these can be up to 2ft tall.
The mandals have been urged to avoid drawing crowds with illuminated advertisements and instead, asked to display advertisements on health and social issues.
The government has also said that idols made of metal, marble or other elements should be considered, instead of the conventional, festive kind used each year. Idols made from clay or other eco-friendly materials should be immersed at home or at a nearby artificial pond, if immersion at home is not possible.
The government has said that processions to mark the arrival and immersion of idols will not be allowed, as these are crowded events. There should be no crowds during the daily ‘aarti’, ‘bhajan’, ‘kirtan’ and other rituals. The government has asked the mandals to observe noise pollution norms.
Further, mandals should organise ‘aarti’ and ‘darshan’ online, as much as possible via Facebook Live, websites or the local cable network. The state government has also urged pandals to organise awareness campaigns on dengue, malaria, Covid-19 or blood donation drives.
All pandals must help local municipalities, police, government authorities, health officials by following all health guidelines. There will be further guidelines issued, which must be followed.
The government issued the guidelines days after the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS), the umbrella body of ‘sarvajanik’ (public) Ganesh mandals in the city had urged the government to issue guidelines at the earliest, so that mandals and idol-makers would have time enough to make preparations accordingly.
Naresh Dahibavkar, head of the BSGSS, has criticised the government for issuing guidelines from the home department unilaterally and without taking the mandals into confidence. “The mandal volunteers will get themselves vaccinated and celebrate the festival by following Covid norms. The government should reconsider the guidelines and hold discussions with the Samiti and mandals at the earliest,” he noted.
The BJP has slammed the state government’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the Ganeshotsav celebrations. BJP legislator Ashish Shelar claimed the government has imposed restrictions on this celebration, while it has given a slew of concessions to pubs, discos and bars.