The BMC held a meeting with the Ganeshotsav Coordinating Committee and Mumbai Police to decide on the guidelines for the Ganpati festival. At the meeting, it was decided that most of the rules would remain the same as last year.
The Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS), an umbrella body of Ganpati Mandal, has demanded to allow devotees in the pandals for offline darshan.
To this, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (zone 2) Harshad Kale said, “The decision on whether to allow devotees for Ganesh darshan will be taken at the senior level after discussion with the police. Mandals should make arrangements for online Darshan as well.”
The BSGSS representatives demanded immersion of idols from renowned Mandal to be allowed at sea of natural ponds. The demand was accepted by the BMC.
BSGSS president Naresh Dahibavkar said, “It was taking days for immersions to be completed at artificial ponds and hence we asked for immersion for idols from Sarvajanik (public) Mandal to be allowed at sea. We are happy that BMC has accepted this demand.”
The Idols height has been restricted to 4 feet for Big Pandals and 2 feet for home Idols.
Given 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 simple, unostentatious celebrations, without crowds and strictly following all Covid-19 protocols during the 10 days that 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 very sad and shocking news, continuing two years we are unable to celebrate Ganesh festival. The organizers have sent several letters to the state government but they remained unacknowledged and now suddenly this a 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.
Rahul Walanj, President of Sahyadri Krida Mandal said, “We used to receive at least 2-3 lakh devotees each day but since the Covid pandemic we hardly see five hundred devotees coming for darshan. The members and volunteers are unhappy with the restrictions put by the state government for the second consecutive year. Rules are only laid on those organizations who follow them, but others are breaking all the protocols and rules yet the authorities turn a blind eye.”
“We are fully obeying and cooperating with the state government and its guidelines but the government should consider our requests too and give some kind of relaxation for putting up hoarding or advertisements as this 10-day Ganeshotsav festival also gives livelihood and employment to lakhs of people. There needs to be a proper guideline issued on public forums so the common man can also understand and obey the rules,” said Harshad Desai of Girgaoncha Raja.
“Like last year this year too we are celebrating the Ganeshotsav on a smaller scale due to the pandemic and the local authorities and governing bodies are helping us with the permissions. We are excited to welcome the Gappa in an eco-friendly way in this calamity,” said Jayesh Patel of Yuva Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal, Vashi.
Balasaheb Kamble, President of Lalbaughcha Raja Ganeshotsav Mandal, “We have to take care of the Societal health. Government is stiff on the earlier SOP. They are conducting meetings; we are following their rules and have sent them our organized event planning of the festival. One thing for sure is that they are not in a decisive plan of action about Ganeshotsav.”
“We have our Ganeshotsav for 14-days till Sankasti Chaturthi and we have been following all the Covid protocols. We are avoiding huge pandals or decorations but focused on proper ventilation with 30 ft height, social distancing and not distributing prasad,” said Subodh Chitnis of Andhericha Raja.
Ravindra Palav, President of Bhatwadi Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav said, “Since last two years we have been following the Covid-19 guidelines and celebrating the Ganeshotsav on within a limited scale. This year our Mandal has organized a vaccination camp where we will be vaccinating around 300 people.”
“We are unhappy as our Mandal is 90-year-old and known for the Giant idols since the past two years the idols are limited to 4 ft of height,” said Avinash Karngutkar, Asst. Treasurer of Mazgaoncha Raja.
There was demand from Ganesh Pandals to allow the big idols to be worshipped and a bio-bubble system to be allowed during the Ganesh festival which the state government has not agreed upon. According to the guidelines of the state government, 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 feet for Public and Big Pandals and 2 feet 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 artificial ponds created by the local authorities. Considering the pandemic situation government 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 apply to districts. No crowding should happen in Pandals also Big Pandals should keep the facility of Online ‘Darshan’ via social media or Live streaming. Social distancing should be maintained. The area should be sanitised regularly.