The state government, on Tuesday, issued guidelines for Ganesh Chaturthi and made it mandatory for all mandals to take permission from the concerned municipality or local authority and limit the height of the idol to 4 feet. This has not gone down well with the mandals, who have urged the state government to review the orders and relax the restrictions a bit.
The 11-day festival will commence on September 10 this year. Last year too, the state government restricted the festivities in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"All the Ganeshotsav mandals had shown their readiness to celebrate the festival while following all THE safety protocols. The committee has been constantly in touch with the state government for the last two months. For the last forty years, the Coordinating Committee has been coordinating the government and the various mandals across the city. The imposition of such restrictions without any discussion has created an atmosphere of discontent amongst mandals and organisers. This is unfair to us, " said Naresh Dahibavkar, head of Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS).
There are a total of 13,000 sarvajanik mandals in the city, of which 3,070 mandals are big. "In the current situation, the politicians and political party workers themselves are seen gathering in huge numbers for rallies, agitations and various inauguration ceremonies. Then why should only we face such restrictions? Last year, we followed the restrictions and co-operated. However, this year, we have requested the chief minister to give us a little time and discuss the matter. We have demanded that certain relaxations should be given to us. We expected the state government to take mandals into consideration before issuing such guidelines," said Vasudev Sawant, secretary of Chinchpoklicha Chintamani Ganeshotsav Mandal.
The state has issued a 13-point charter, asking people to observe the festival in a restricted and simple manner. Major restrictions like last year are the cap on the height of the idols. The height of idols cannot exceed 4 feet for mandals in public places and 2 feet for households. The guidelines further state that, people should worship metal, marble or clay idols at home as much as possible and idols should be immersed at artificial ponds prepared by the local authority. The state government has said welcome processions (Aagman Sohla) on the first day of the festival and all immersion days including the major one on the 10th day will not be allowed.
Instead of cultural programmes, organisers have been asked to arrange health and blood donation camps. Large pandals have been asked to ensure that there is no crowding at their locations and have also asked them to create a facility for online darshan.