Experts question govt nod to Ganesh festival

Published on Sep 07, 2021 12:14 AM IST
Dr N Manjunath, member of state Covid Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, said that festivals could become potential super-spreaders if a large number of people are allowed to celebrate together.
A senior official said it has been clearly stated that the height of the idols installed at public places and in houses should not be more than 4 ft and 2 ft, respectively. (PTI)
A senior official said it has been clearly stated that the height of the idols installed at public places and in houses should not be more than 4 ft and 2 ft, respectively. (PTI)
By, Bengaluru

Karnataka government’s decision to allow Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in the state has raised concerns among experts. Even though the government has decided to allow celebrations only in districts with a positivity rate of less than 2% and strict restrictions have been imposed in districts where celebrations have been allowed, experts are questioning the decision.

Dr N Manjunath, member of state Covid Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, said that festivals could become potential super-spreaders if a large number of people are allowed to celebrate together. “A large number of people usually come out for festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and markets are often overcrowded. We have our Covid situation under control, such overcrowding could undo it,” he said.

Another TAC member on the condition of anonymity said that even though the government has put strict restrictions in place, implementation has been a problem.

“How will they control the markets? In every festival before this, we have seen photos of people thronging KR Market and other places. Ganesha being a longer festival than others, the chances of gathering it are much higher. If you look at how cases have increased in Kerala after Onam, we should have imposed more restrictions,” he said.

Talking about the restrictions imposed for the festival, R Ashok, Karnataka’s revenue minister on Sunday had said, “The (Karnataka) government is allowing the (Ganesh Chathurthi) festival but several restrictions are in place. There will be no procession orchestra, no DJ and pandals must be 50/50 feet and Covid vaccination is compulsory wherever the Ganapathy festival is being held.

However, the minister was not clear on how the government or authorities will decide who will be allowed to keep the idol in public spaces. In Karnataka, like other states, Ganesh Chathurthi is celebrated with much pomp and fervor with public processions, dance, cultural programs which attract large crowds of worshippers and others. Ashok said that the government has approved to allow one Ganesh festival per ward in urban areas and that district authorities would decide on similar requests in rural regions.

Officials have stressed that prior permission is mandatory for anyone from the local district administration or from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (in Bengaluru city areas) to install Ganesha idols and to organize related festivities. “Officials will be deployed to ensure celebrations conclude by 9 pm. It is mandatory that all organizers of the celebration shall be fully vaccinated as well,” a senior government official said.

Health Department officials, however, said strict measures are in place. A senior official said it has been clearly stated that the height of the idols installed at public places and in houses should not be more than 4 ft and 2 ft, respectively. Deputy commissioners of border districts had been empowered to take decisions on granting permission to public celebrations of the festival depending on the Covid-19 cases.

“During the celebrations, the state government has barred the distribution of food and prasad. Also, if anyone violates the guidelines to have only one Ganesh idol in each ward, will face police action. We have already held a meeting with the police and one more meeting will be held to finalize the decision,” said BBMP commissioner Gaurav Gupta on Monday.

Meanwhile, while neighbouring Tamil Nadu has banned public processions and celebrations , Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra have decided to ban all Ganesh celebrations considering increase in Covid-19 cases.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Arun Dev is an Assistant Editor with the Karnataka bureau of Hindustan Times. A journalist for over 10 years, he has written extensively on crime and politics.

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