In view of the expected COVID-19 third wave, the Maharashtra government has decided to ban massive idols of Ganesha and extra-large public celebrations for the upcoming 10-day Ganeshotsav festival starting September 10.
The government has also emphasized on simple, unostentatious celebrations, without crowds and strictly following all COVID-19 protocols during the 10 days which mark the state’s biggest public festival in which people from all communities participate.
No processions will be permitted for the start of the festival on September 10 or for the ‘Visarjan’ (immersion) ceremonies on various dates till the final adieu on September 19.
Naresh Dahibavkar, the president of the influential Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS) told the Afternoon Voice, “This is really very sad and shocking news, continuing two years we are unable to celebrate Ganesh festival. The organisers have sent several letters to the state government but they remained unacknowledged and now suddenly this one-sided and prejudiced decision has come.”
He appealed to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to convene a meeting of the BSGSS and others in the state to discuss and jointly finalise the norms for the 2021 Ganeshotsav.
There was demand from Ganesh Pandals to allow the big idols to be worshiped and a bio-bubble system to be allowed during the Ganesh festival which the State Govt has not agreed upon. According to the guidelines of the state govt, Public Pandals should take appropriate permission from local authorities. Public Pandal should be limited in size.
The Ganesh Idols height has been restricted at 4 ft for Public and Big Pandals and 2 ft for home Idols. In the guidelines, the government has requested people, if possible, worship metal or marble Idols at home or else idols should be made of clay.
Immersion of home idols should be done at home or at artificial ponds created by the local authorities. Considering the pandemic situation Govt has asked to conduct health camps and blood donation camps instead of cultural programs. No exemption will be given during the Ganesh festival as all break the chain rules and associated levels will be applicable to districts. No crowding should happen in Pandals also Big Pandals should keep the facility of Online ‘Darshan’ via social media or via Live streaming. Social distancing should be maintained. The area should be sanitised regularly.