As Navratri looms on the horizon, the BMC has issued guidelines mandating low-key festivities yet again this year, owing to Covid-19 concerns. However, unlike Ganesh Chaturthi, devotees will be allowed physical darshan at Navratri mandals, according to the fresh guidelines issued by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday.
No garba would be allowed and decorations at the pandals also should be very minimal, the circular says. Also, there is an appeal to the mandals and organisers of Navratri festivals in the city to organise health and blood donation camps. “We have appealed to the mandals to create public awareness regarding vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue instead, and follow all Covid-19 safety protocols during the nine-day long festival beginning from October 7 and ending on October 15,” said a senior BMC official.
The official said: “Darshan of idols should be done online as much as possible or organisers must ensure that not more than five people be allowed inside in the pandal at a time.”
The BMC circular also stated that while conducting pooja and aarti or other festival rituals, organisers must ensure that there should be no crowding in and around the pandals. “No distribution of prasad and flowers will be allowed and the setting up of stalls has also been restricted,” the official said.
Those going for physical darshan will be subjected to thermal screening. The main area of the pandal will have to be sanitised thrice a day, the circular mandates.
Except for the physical darshan norm in the circular, most guidelines issued by the civic body are similar to those issued during the recent Ganesh Chaturthi festival. The circular has stated that it will be mandatory for public mandals to take permission from the BMC. The height of the idol has been capped at four feet in case of public mandals, and two feet in case of home idols.
The BMC has also asked citizens to use environment-friendly or shadu idols, and if possible, try to immerse the idols or perform the ‘visarjan’ in their homes, so that there are no crowds during the procession.
Elaborating on the guidelines, Deputy Municipal Commissioner Harshal Kale said, “The slight change over guidelines for physical darshan has been made keeping in mind the fact that by the time of Navratri festival, temples and religious places will be reopening and physical darshan will be allowed there. Hence, it was decided to allow physical darshan at Navratri pandals too, with physical/ social distancing riders. We are, however, restricting garba and dandiya as that brings people in close contact with each other,”
Kale added: “There will also be no artificial immersion sites and all idols will be immersed at natural immersion sites only. However, the idol will need to be handed to municipal staff at the spot for immersion. Counters will be set up like during Ganesh Chaturthi at all immersion points.”
Kale added that in the case of the building being sealed on the day of the immersion (if there are more than five Covid cases), the idol should be immersed in the building premises.
The BMC has also said that the welcome and the farewell ceremonies of the goddess in mandals and residential premises should not involve more than 10 persons and five persons respectively. Those participating in the ceremonies should also be wearing masks, ensure social/ physical distancing and have been fully vaccinated 15 days prior to the ceremony.
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)