Updated: August 31, 2021 9:11:19 am
Complete ban on any type of procession, no immersion at riverfronts, cap on the height of idols, prohibition on buying idols from roadside and bar on inviting celebrities or VIPs to pandals – these are few of the restrictions that the Pune City police have come up with as part of its Model Code of Conduct as the city gears up to celebrate Ganesh festival from September 10 to September 19.
Police said the number of devotees attending poojas should not exceed five as they advised usage of online media for people wanting to attend the ceremonies and participate in darshan.
For peaceful and safe conduct of the festival in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) had recently called a meeting of Ganesh mandal representatives and elected leaders along with civic and administrative officers. Building on the decisions taken during the meeting along with guidelines issued by the state government on a regular basis, Pune police came up with the Model Code of Conduct, executive orders for which were issued by Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) for Pune City, Ravindra Shisve.
Police said that idols should be purchased online as far as possible, and sale of idols should only be done on allocated open spaces and not on the roadside. No processions will be allowed for arrival, installation or immersion of the Ganesh idols, they said. Mandals which are associated with existing temples or religious establishments have been asked to install idols on their respective premises while small areas would be allocated to other mandals for the purpose.
For the mandals, the maximum height allowed for idols, as per the state government guidelines, is four feet. For idols to be installed at home, the maximum height has been set at two feet.
All those present at the pandals have been asked to strictly adhere to Covid-19 safety norms, including physical distancing and use of masks and sanitisers. The pooja and other rituals should be performed only by mandal office bearers, the guidelines said. The event can be broadcast online via social media or video conferencing for devotees wanting to attend them, the code said. If these media are unavailable, mandal members can shoot videos and send them to the devotees, it added.
The visit of devotees to the pandals should be restricted through online token systems and no celebrities or VIPs should be invited to the premises so as to avoid large gatherings. Setting up of food stalls and other shops on the premises of pandals has been prohibited. Police have also advised that instead of organising any cultural programmes, mandals should hold blood donation camps or other welfare activities adhering to all safety norms.
Office bearers of the mandals have been asked to install Aarogya Setu app of the Central government on their phones.
To avoid crowding, the PMC has said that neither will any immersion activity be allowed at the river fronts nor will any tanks be installed next to river banks. The mandals have been directed to set up water tanks for immersion next to the spot where the pandals have been set up. Residential societies have been directed to set up tanks on their premises for immersion of home idols.
All the norms to avoid various types of pollution will remain in force. Except the fifth, seventh, 10th and 11th day of the festival, use of loud speakers will be allowed only between 6 am and 10 pm. On these four days, the permitted time limit is till midnight.
The code of conduct has a separate section on security measures that need to be taken on the mandal premises. These include deployment of fire safety mechanisms, security cameras, deployment of guards if needed besides following Standard Operating Procedures for handling of suspicious objects or dealing with “suspicious people”.
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