Have health camps instead of garba: Maharashtra govt to Navratri mandals

Updated: 30 September, 2020 09:43 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Like Ganeshotsav, Maharashtra restricts gatherings, bans serving of food, and caps idol sizes for Navratri

Navratri is scheduled to begin from October 17
Navratri is scheduled to begin from October 17

Going by the guidelines issued by the state government, it seems even Navratri this year is going to be a low-key affair like Ganeshotsav. The government has not given permission for garba events during the festival, which is scheduled to start on October 17. Instead it wants mandals (organisers) to conduct healthcare programmes in view of the pandemic.

According to the state government's guidelines, mandals will have to take permission for erecting pandals and their height has to be as per the high court guidelines.

At any given time, only five people would be allowed inside mandaps and food and beverage would not be served in the pandals. Immersion processions will not be allowed and the idols from containment zones would have to be immersed in artificial ponds that the civic body will make available around that time.

According to the govt guidelines, this year immersion processions will not be allowed. File pic
According to the govt guidelines, this year immersion processions will not be allowed. File pic

The height of idols has been capped at 4 ft for sarvajanik mandals and 2 ft for the residential ones. The home department doesn't want people to be forced to give donations for the festival. "Accept wilful donations," it says, adding that the commercials on display should not attract crowds. "See to it that the commercials create awareness about health and the government's 'My family, my responsibility' programme."

Online darshan

It further specified that instead of conducting garba and dandiya events, the mandals should organise blood donation camps and awareness programmes regarding prevention of COVID-19, dengue, malaria, etc. The guidelines also mention that to avoid crowding, darshan should be made available online, and aarti, pooja and bhajan should be held with minimum attendance.

Devotees willing to visit pandals should undergo thermal screening, be provided with sanitiser and allowed to move in and out as per social distancing rules. Restrictions have also been imposed on the Ravan dahan programme held on Dussehra. The home department wants it to be a symbolic one and only a handful of people should be there on ground to burn the effigy. "Don't invite people. Webcast the programme on social media," it says.

In view of the guidelines, mid-day spoke to some Navratri organisers. Damu Sharma, secretary of Shri Sanghani Estate Navratri Mahotsav Mandal, Ghatkopar West, said, "We have been celebrating the festival for the last 70 years. This time along with it we will also organise medical camps. We will follow the government guidelines and conduct blood donation and antigen test camps."

Jignesh Kotecha of Naidu Club, Borivli, said, "We have been celebrating Navratri at the Kora Kendra Ground for many years but this year we will only do the pooja. However, we are still thinking about whether to conduct the camps as per the government guidelines. No decision has been taken yet."
"We have been celebrating Navratri at the Rashmin Nagar Ground for the last 23 years. But this time we will follow the guidelines and not organise garba. Only pooja and aarti will be conducted. We will also arrange for a plasma donation camp," said Rita Sarvaiya, secretary of Maa Aarasuri Navratri Mandal, Virar.

With inputs from Badal Pandya

4ft
Maximum height fixed for idols of sarvajanik mandals

2ft
Max height for residential idols

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First Published: 30 September, 2020 06:57 IST

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