With the shadow of coronavirus pandemic looming, the Maharashtra government on Saturday decided to restrict the height of idols installed by Ganpati Mandals to only four feet during the coming Ganesh festival.
Even the Ganesh idols installed at home can not be taller than two feet, said a notification issued by the Home Department. It also advised Ganesh Mandals to postpone immersion of idols.
The notification came amid a spurt in coronavirus cases in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Pune and other urban areas.
The ten-day Ganesh Chaturthi festival, during which 'Sarvajanik Mandals' (groups) install idols in roadside pandals which are thronged by hordes of devotees will begin from August 22.
Apart from restricting the height, the notification also asked people to use metal or marble Ganesh idols at home. If clay idols are installed, they should be preferably immersed at home or in nearby artificial ponds, it said.
The government has also asked the Mandals to consider immersion of idols during the Maghi Ganesh Chaturthi which falls in February or during the next year's Ganesh Chaturthi festival.
Processions to mark arrival and immersion of idols will not be allowed this year as they attract huge crowds. The need of the hour is to prevent crowding and ensure health and safety of people, the notification said.
Ganesh Mandals should accept only voluntary donations and advertisements should not aim to attract crowds but focus on health awareness and social messages, it said. Instead of cultural programmes, health camps, blood donation camps should be organised and awareness should be created about infections such as coronavirus, malaria and dengue, it said.
There should be no crowds during daily 'aarti' and noise pollution norms must be followed. 'Darshan' facility should be provided online through Facebook or other media or through cable networks, the notification said.
Pandals should have sanitization and thermal screening facilities and organisers should ensure that devotees who come for Darshan follow the hygiene protocol. The notification also said there should be no aarti at the immersion venue.
The famous Lalbaughcha Raja Ganesh Mandal in Mumbai has decided not to celebrate the festival this year, while GSB Wadala Ganpati Mandal has postponed the celebrations to Maghi Chaturthi in February next year.