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Maharashtra: No dandiya, garba events as govt issues Navratri SOP

In a 16-point circular issued ahead of Navratri, Durga Puja and Dusshera, the state home department said the festivals need to be celebrated in a “simple manner”. This year, Navratri starts on October 17, with Dusshera falling on October 25.

Written by Abha Goradia | Mumbai | Updated: September 30, 2020 1:03:00 pm
Maharashtra: No dandiya, garba events as govt issues Navratri SOPThe government stressed on avoiding crowding for bhajan, aarti and kirtan events. (Reuters)

With less than 20 days left for Navratri to begin, the state government on Tuesday advised cancellation of garba, dandiya and cultural programmes in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a 16-point circular issued ahead of Navratri, Durga Puja and Dusshera, the state home department said the festivals need to be celebrated in a “simple manner”. This year, Navratri starts on October 17, with Dusshera falling on October 25.

Instead of hosting cultural events that could attract crowds, the government has advised mandals to host health-related events or camps, such as blood donation drives. The government’s ‘Majhe Kutumb Majhi Jajbabdari (My Family My Responsibility)’ initiative should be publicised, apart from promoting precautionary measures that need to be taken against Covid-19, malaria and dengue, said the standard operating procedure.

On the ban on garba events, the organiser of Kora Kendra Dandiya, Ganesh Naidu, said: “We are ready to follow guidelines, but it would have been better had the government taken us into confidence. Just like IPL (Indian Premier League), we would have proposed broadcast of performances from the ground. At least it would have helped artistes. But the current guidelines are not clear on that aspect.”

For Navratri and Durga Puja, the government has suggested worship of metal-based idols instead of the traditional ones made of Plaster of Paris or clay. In cases where metal-based idols are not used, residents have been urged to worship eco-friendly idols, which can be dissolved at home or artificial immersion tanks.

The height of the idol has been capped at 4 feet for mandals and 2 feet for home worship. No procession should be held for either the arrival or visarjan of the idol. In containment zones, visarjan may not be allowed, the circular stated.

The government stressed on avoiding crowding for bhajan, aarti and kirtan events. Wherever possible, using online means and cable networks to broadcast ‘Devi Darshan’ and other events has been recommended.

For hosting public Navratri gatherings, mandals will be required to take permission from local administration or municipal corporation, said the circular. It added a mandap should be erected as per the policy formulated by the civic body or the local administration and orders issued by the Bombay High Court.

For mandals, sanitisation and thermal screening has been made compulsory. They will also not be allowed to provide the services of food or drinks. At a time, no more than five volunteers should remain present in the mandal, the circular said.

Ravan Dahan should be observed in a symbolic manner, with crowding discouraged. Live screening of the same can be facilitated, said the circular.

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