With Ganesh Chaturthi around the corner, Indians are gearing up to ensure that the festival brings happiness as it always has and prevent the spread of disease while we live through a pandemic.
Legislations of states such as Maharashtra, Delhi, Karnataka, etc. have already notified guidelines that devotees must follow during the two weeks of the festival. Starting with Maharashtra’s vague guidelines, stating that idols at home cannot be taller than 2 feet while idols of Ganesh Mandals cannot be taller than 4 feet. Further, no processions to bring or immerse the idols will be allowed and daily aartis must follow strict social distancing norms with only a limited number of devotees present. How mandals must do so has not been specified and left to the discretion of these groups.
The state of Karnataka had previously decided on a complete ban on public celebrations of the festival. However, the government reversed it’s order on 19th August with guidelines issued by Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa allowing public celebrations in a restricted manner. These guidelines include restriction of idol height to 4 feet, with only a single pandal allowed per ward. The number of people allowed inside the pandal have been restricted to 20 at a time. Pandals are allowed to immerse their idols in wells while people have been strictly ordered to immerse idols with their homes. This must be done while following all safety measures including wearing of masks and social distancing.
Goa’s guidelines remain more or less the same as the aforementioned states with the caveat of restriction on the use of fireworks and restriction on immersion location and timing set between 5pm and 10pm. Further, no celebrations will be allowed in containment zones whatsoever. The state of Telangana however has taken an intuitive approach to the festival. The Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority plans on procuring 80,000 clay Ganesh idols for distribution to restrict the festivities within homes. No public celebrations and immersions are allowed all over the state to prevent spread of disease.
Perhaps the most thought into public guidelines has been put in by authorities of Pune district in Maharashtra. The city restricts purchase of idols to online transactions only. Allocated open spaces have been set for sale of idols. The number of devotees allowed to attend pujas in pandals is strictly restricted to 5 people. Video conferencing and live sharing of poojas can be used to involve devotees. Visiting devotees must be restricted by the use of an online token system. Ganesh Mandals have also been requested not to put up elaborate decorations to avoid drawing a lot of crowd. Ganesh mandals have been urged to organise blood donation camps or other welfare activities in place of cultural programmes all while following strict health guidelines.
While the state issues it’s guidelines, here are some practices our readers can follow to ensure their safety while enjoying the festival:
- Restrict home poojas and aartis to include family members only.
- Try making your own idols from easily available and inexpensive red clay this year.
- Avoid buying sweets from outside. Make them at home by following simple sweet recipes available on the internet.
- Make use of video calls to share your celebrations with family and neighbours.
- Try not to attend public poojas and aartis as much as possible.
- Build a community immersion tank within your building or direct locality if possible.
- Make sure you take all existing precautions to ensure safety of you and your family.
Here’s wishing a happy and safe festive season to all our readers.