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Friday, September 17, 2021

Fewer idols sold, Covid shadow over Ganesh festival in Surat

According to Surat city Ganesh Utsav Samiti president Anil Biscuitwala, the main reason is the delay in taking decision to celebrate the festival for nine days.

By: Express News Service | Surat |
Updated: September 9, 2021 4:38:50 am
Ganpati idols are stocked up at Kalabhavan ground in Vadodara for selling. (Bhupendra Rana)

Covid has cast a shadow over Ganesh Chaturthi festival this year with the number of idols sold in Surat falling to around 30,000 — less than half of the 65,000 idols sold during the season in the pre-pandemic times, festival organisers said.

According to Surat city Ganesh Utsav Samiti president Anil Biscuitwala, the main reason is the delay in taking decision to celebrate the festival for nine days. “Many idol makers from other states had not come. People had decided to celebrate at their homes in view of Covid pandemic as the decision of nine-day celebrations came late.”

The Ganesh Chaturti festival begins on September 10 this year. In 2020, the festival was a low-key affair in Surat, due to the Covid pandemic. This year also people were sceptical over government permission for celebrations. The government finally gave the go-ahead on August 25.

As per the government guidelines, the Ganesh idol should not be more than four feet and large crowds should be avoided.
On the immersion day following nine days of puja, only five people will be allowed to carry the idol in the vehicle and without any procession.

The Surat Municipal Corporation is preparing around 16 artificial ponds for the immersion of idols, as immersion in the Tapi river has been banned.

With these restrictions, many mandals have not applied for permission to erect pandals and instead, have decided on celebrations at home.

Biscuitwala said, “There are 7,500 mandals registered with us, of which this year only 2,500 have sought permission for pandals. We have instructed them to follow Covid protocol strictly.”

“This year, more people are opting to celebrate at home, instead of public celebrations and we appreciate it. People are complying with the appeal of the state government.”

Shree Ganesh Murtikar Welfare Association president Sanjay Elkar said, “This year we are short of hands and we could not meet the demand. It takes more time to make mud idols. Due to the shortage of idols, the prices have gone up to Rs 5,000 for two-foot idols and over Rs 15,000 for four-foot idols. It is difficult to get idols from Maharashtra as Covid cases are high there.”

Nitin Suchak, a lawyer by profession and resident of Bhagwan Park Society in Adajan area, appealed to the society members to celebrate the festivals at home.

Talking to the Indian Express, Nitin Suchak said, “Earlier there were four pandals in our residential society comprising of 52 houses, but this year we have planned micro-level celebrations. We have advised society people to bring small idols and keep it at their homes and celebrate. We will not make a pandal but we will keep the 2 feet idol of Ganesh in the parking area.”

In view of the Covid pandemic, the society has banned elderly people from participating in aarti, he said, adding, “Only one member from a house will be allowed to participate in aarti in odd and even numbers of bungalows. Volunteers will carry aarti to each house in the morning and evening. The idol will be immersed in an artificial pond in the common open plot in the society.”

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