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Covid spike forces Karnataka to ban mass gatherings in August-September festival season

No procession allowed on Muharram, Ganesh Chaturthi; district authorities to decide local curbs on festive days

By: Express Web Desk | Bengaluru |
August 13, 2021 3:26:42 pm
Police personnel check the Covid-19 test report of travellers at Talapady checkpost at Kerala-Karnataka border in Mangaluru. (PTI Photo)

The Karnataka government has banned large social, political, religious and cultural gatherings across the state in the wake of a Covid spike in some districts.

The beginning of the auspicious month of Shravana has set the stage for a host of festivals in August-September including Naga Panchami, Varamahalakshmi Vratha, Krishna Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi and Durga Pooja, besides Muharram.

District authorities have been directed to decide the local restrictions on such festival days. In fresh guidelines issued Thursday, the state said no public observation of festivals or mass gatherings would be permitted during the festive season.

The government has also listed elaborate restrictions on the celebration of Muharram and Gowri Ganesha festivals, including a ban on all processions.

What are the restrictions for Muharram?

The government has banned all kinds of processions from August 12 to August 20. “Alam/panja and tajiyath can be viewed from a distance without touching them. Wearing a mask is mandatory in prayer halls. All prayers are to be held in mosques in strict compliance with Covid norms. Except for masjid, mass prayer gathering is not allowed in community halls, open ground, shadi mahal etc on the occasion of Muharram,” the order said, adding that programmes should not be organised in kabristans. Persons aged below 10 and above 60 have to offer prayers at home.

What curbs are in place for Ganesh Chaturthi?

The government has clearly stated that pandals cannot be set up for Ganesh Chaturthi. “It has to be celebrated in a simple manner…. in their homes and no procession would be allowed while bringing the Ganesha idol or during the immersion of idols. Ganesha Gowri idols should be submerged in designated places only. Temples that are observing the Ganesh Chaturthi festival should be properly sanitised every day. Devotees should be allowed after using sanitiser,” said the order. Temples should also arrange for thermal screening of devotees.

What restrictions should be followed in religious places?

Places of worship would only be allowed to open by strictly adhering to Covid-appropriate behaviour. Annual jatras and public meetings have also been banned, said the order issued by Principal Secretary (Revenue) Tushar Girinath. “Wearing masks and maintaining social distancing have been made mandatory,” it said.

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