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‘I don’t agree’: Goa withdraws Ganesh Chaturthi SOPs after CM tweets disapproval

Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant said the Ganesh Chaturthi must be celebrated with full fervour “while taking all the necessary precautions, given the pandemic”.
Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant ordered his government to withdraw the standard operating procedures issued for Ganesh Chaturthi, saying he did not agree with some of the guidelines. (Twitter/@DrPramodPSawant)
Updated on Sep 08, 2021 01:12 AM IST
By Gerard de Souza, Hindustan Times

PANAJI: The Goa government on Tuesday introduced, and then quickly withdrew ‘standard operating procedures’ (SOPs) issued for the upcoming Ganesh Chaturthi festival after Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant tweeted his disapproval.

“I personally do not agree with some of the guidelines that were issued in the SoP, especially the one stopping priests from going to individual households for puja. Ganesh Chaturthi is the most important festival in Goa and such rituals are an integral part of it,” Pramod Sawant said on microblogging platform Twitter.

“While the expert committee may have suggested such curbs, I have asked the administration to withdraw the SoP immediately. Chaturthi must be celebrated with full fervour while taking all the necessary precautions, given the pandemic”.

The state government’s SOPs issued just hours earlier mandated that the otherwise extravagant Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations on September 10 should be toned down this year in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The SOPs asked people to stick to online modes to conduct community celebrations such as “arati, bhajan, kirtan and other religious programmes”, not hold any cultural programmes but opt for organising health camps including blood donation camps instead.

The SOPs also asked families to immerse the Ganesh idol within the house.

“However, if it is not possible then only immersion should be carried out at the nearest immersion point. No processions shall be allowed while bringing the idols to the immersion point. No gathering after the immersion shall be allowed,” the now-scrapped SOPs said. HT has reviewed the order.

“The priest shall be prohibited [from] performing Ganesh Pooja by going to individual households, They may perform an online pooja. Also, families should be encouraged to perform self puja using various technological means like YouTube, WhatsApp videos, etc,” the SOPs said.

Ganesh Chaturthi is largely a community-based celebration in Goa and celebrations last nearly a week and often involve get-togethers with friends and neighbours besides setting up elaborate idols at public squares that were visited by thousands.

On and off social media, the SOPs drew criticism with many questioning why SOPs were mandated for a religious festival but not for political rallies and meetings.

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