The Pune City police has issued a model code of conduct that mandals in the city will have to follow as they celebrate the upcoming Ganesh festival. Along with prohibiting any type of procession, police have said the number of devotees attending puja should not exceed five and the Aarogya Setu app should be compulsory for mandal office-bearers.
Ganesh festival will be celebrated this year from August 22 to September 1. For peaceful and safe conduct of the festival during the pandemic, the Pune Municipal Corporation had recently called a meeting of Ganesh mandal representatives, elected leaders, and civic and administrative officers. Collating various decisions taken during the meeting and guidelines issued by the state government, Pune police has issued a model code of conduct for public celebration of the festival by Ganesh mandals.
The code comprises guidelines for activities like purchase and installation of idols, pooja and darshan rituals at the pandal premises, Covid safety arrangements at the pandals and the immersion ritual. Police have said the PMC’s directives on complete ban on immersion at river fronts will be strictly enforced.
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, said police. No processions will be allowed for arrival, installation or immersion of the Ganesh idols. Mandals which are associated with temples have been asked to install idols on the premises of the temples. For other mandals, small areas will be allocated to set up pandals. Only up to five persons will be allowed to be present for any ritual at the pandal premises.
All those present will have to strictly adhere to Covid safety norms, including physical distancing and use of masks and sanitisers. Pooja and other rituals should be performed only by mandal office-bearers and devotees can witness these rituals online, via social media or video-conferencing platforms. If these media avnues are unavailable for them, mandal members can shoot videos and send them across to the devotees.
The visit of devotees to the pandal premises should be restricted through an online token systems. Setting up food stalls or any other shop on the premises of pandals has been prohibited. Police have also advised that instead of organising cultural programmes, mandals should organise blood donation camps or other welfare activities by adhering to all safety norms.
Mandals have been directed to follow all Covid-19 safety norms round-the-clock and for office-bearers of the mandals, installing Aarogya Setu app has been made mandatory. Regular sanitisation of the premises should be undertaken.
To avoid crowding, the PMC has announced that neither will immersion activities be allowed at the river fronts nor will any tanks be installed for it next to river banks. The mandals have been directed to set up water tanks for immersion. Residential societies have been directed to set up tanks on their premises for immersion of home idols.
Except the fifth, seventh, 10th and 11th day of the festival, use of loudspeakers will be allowed only between 6 am to 10 pm. On these four days, the allowed time limit is till midnight.
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