Subdued Ganesha festival under Covid curbs in K’taka

Ganesha Chaturthi celebrations across Karnataka will be subdued this year due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The state government has allowed the public display of the deity for only three days instead of the customary 10 days and the idol’s height has been limited to four feet.

“Only 20 people will be allowed to worship the idol at a time and seek blessings by keeping a six-feet gap between two devotees to maintain social distancing,” state nodal officer N. Manjunath Prasad told IANS ahead of the festival.

As the lockdown in containment zones has been extended till August 31, public display of the idol will not be allowed in hotspots.

“Due to a ban on public gatherings in large numbers, cultural and religious programmes will also not be allowed to avoid crowding around the deity that will be placed in the centre of pandals in open areas,” Prasad said.

To restrict crowds, the state government has decided to allow the public display of one idol in each of the 198 civic wards across Bengaluru.

With no let-up in the number of new positive cases daily, the state’s Covid tally crossed 2.5 lakh on Thursday and inched closer to one lakh in India’s tech hub.

As one of the popular Hindu festivals, Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated every year on the fourth day of the new moon to mark the birth of the elephant God.

“The height of the Ganesha idol to be worshipped at home should be about two feet and it has to be immersed in a tub or bucket in the house itself. The four-feet idol on public display will be immersed in mobile tanks the civic body will arrange or in the nearest pond in every ward with minimal gathering. The Ganeshotsava committees (mandals) celebrating the festival should take permission from the local civic office for installing only one idol in each ward,” said Prasad.

As per the order of the state Chief Secretary T.M.Vijay Bhaskar, the Ganesha festival can be celebrated in temples, houses and open spaces with 20 people around.

As per the guidelines of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, cultural events, including music concerts will not be allowed during the 10-day long festival.

“Procession of the idols will not be allowed in compliance with the guidelines,” reiterated Prasad and sought cooperation from the citizens in the fight against the virus, which has disrupted normal life and livelihood. Special ‘pujas’ will be conducted as part of the festival and temples would be sanitised daily.

“As festivals are celebrated to instill peace and harmony in society, Ganesha utsav will be celebrated in the same manner without disturbing the law and order situation,” added Prasad. Legal action under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and IPC section 188 will be taken against violators.