The festivities during Navaratri, Dusshera, Diwali and Gujarati New Year won’t be the same in Gujarat this year as the state government has, due to the raging Covid-19 pandemic, banned all garba events in public places. The new guidelines will come into effect from October 16.
Navaratri is considered an important festival in Gujarat where people participate in garba and dandiya dancing all through the night at public places for all nine days. However, there has been no respite from the pandemic and it is set to dampen the garba spirit this time.
The Vijay Rupani-led administration has, however, allowed the installation of the idols in public spaces during the Navratri celebration, but to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection, devotees will not be allowed to touch them.
Idols of Durga can be established in open spaces where puja can be done, the new guideline says, “but nobody can touch the idol nor distribute any prasad.” Not more than 200 people will be allowed to gather at a venue during the puja and the programme cannot last for longer than an hour, it says. For indoors gatherings, only areas with not more than 50 percent capacity and not exceeding 200 persons would be permitted.
All Covid-19 protocols at these places will have to be followed strictly, including including social distancing, use of masks, hand sanitisers, oxymeters and thermal scanners, and availability of hand-washing facilities. Any social and cultural programmes would need the approval of the local administration and no events will be allowed in containment zones. Consumption of tobacco and spitting on the roads also remains banned. There is also a complete ban on holding Ram Leela, Ravan Dahan, Melas, rallies etc.
People aged above 65 years or below 10 years and those with any comorbidities have been advised to stay away from such gatherings. The administration said it is committed to following all Covid protocols and violators will be dealt with strictly.