2-feet cap for Ganpati idols at homes; Maharashtra government issues guidelines

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Published on Jul 11, 2020 11:56 PM IST
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BySwapnil Rawal, Faisal Malik and Sagar Pillai

Maharashtra government on Saturday issued guidelines for the celebration of Ganeshotsav in the state, which include reducing the size of idols as well as recommendations to organise online viewing and postpone the immersion of idols to next year.

The 11-day Ganeshotsav is one of the most important Hindu festivals in Maharashtra and mandals in the city attract huge crowds. It will be held in end-August this year. As of July 10, BMC has started accepting online applications to erect a pandal or set up a stage on roads and footpaths in its jurisdiction. Mumbai has nearly 12,000 public pandals every year.

The state home department has issued detailed guidelines for Ganeshotsav organisers to limit the spread of Covid-19 through contact and prevent overcrowding. It is mandatory for all public Ganesh mandals to take prior permission from local authorities.

Previously, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had called for a low-key celebration in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The state in its notification has recommended marble or metal idols, adding that if clay or other materials are used, then immersion ceremonies should be performed either at home or in artificial ponds. The guidelines also recommend postponing immersion ceremonies wherever possible to Maghi Ganeshotsav (in February 2021) or next year’s Ganeshotsav.

For Mumbai, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has laid down a number of conditions for Ganeshotsav organisers. These include reducing the size of pandals, a ban on offerings like flowers and garlands, sanitising pandals thrice a day, and ensuring only five workers are inside a pandal at a time.

Organisers have also been asked to conduct public awareness campaigns, blood donation camps, health check-ups and other public health programmes during the festival. Senior civic officials said that a decision allowing a limited number of devotees inside a pandal is yet to be taken.

In a meeting held on June 27 between the state government and representatives of the public mandals, a decision was taken to cap the height of idols at 4 feet for idols at public mandals and at 2 feet for household idols.

Public mandals have also been asked to adhere to distancing norms, carry out fumigation, use sanitizers, and pay special attention to the safety of children and senior citizens. Organisers have been asked not to advertise in order to reduce crowds in attendance at their pandals. They have been encouraged to tie up with local cable networks and/or use social media to let devotees see rituals like the aarti and get ‘darshan’ of the idols online.

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