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Ganesh Chaturthi turns low-key affair amid COVID-19 pandemic


Ganesh Chaturthi on Saturday turned out to be a low-key affair in various cities across Maharashtra. Mumbai and Pune, known for celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi in a grand manner, also lacked the usual pomp and glory.

Government imposes restrictions

The coronavirus pandemic that has wreaked a havoc in Maharashtra is a major reason behind the low-key celebrations. Also, the Maharashtra government has urged the festival organisers to keep it a low-key affair and avoid crowding.

The Uddhav Thackeray government has issued strict guidelines regarding Ganeshotsav celebrations. It has put a ban on taking out processions before installing and immersing the idols of the deity.

It also said that the heights of Lord Ganesh idols installed by sarvajanik (community) mandals and at household-level should be limited to four feet and two feet, respectively, this year.

As a result, the number of people coming out in the market to buy Ganpati idols for installation in their houses, housing societies and sarvajanik pandals, was limited. The usual spirit and fervour of the festival is relatively low this year.

Small seasonal business affected

Due to the subdued celebrations, small seasonal businesses that thrive during the festival were considerably affected. These include flower vendors, sweet shops, outlets selling decoration items, imitation jewellery, and transporters. The COVID-19 pandemic has also affected artistes.

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However, in some popular market places like Dadar in central Mumbai, people still came out in large numbers to purchase material required for decoration, puja rituals in the last couple of days.

Festival cancelled, postponed

Lalbaugcha Raja, Mumbai’s best-known sarvajanik Ganeshotsav mandal, cancelled the festival this year in view of the pandemic, while Wadala’s GSB Sewa Samiti, considered one of the richest mandals in the metropolis, postponed the celebration to ‘Magh Shudh Chaturthi’ in February next year.

The usual pandal decorations in the city are missing this year and cultural events have been replaced by public awareness programmes and health camps by the mandals.

People bring Ganpati bappa home

Mumbai and the neighbouring areas have been witnessing heavy rains since the last few days. The downpour continued on Saturday morning, but people stepped out to bring home the idols of the deity amid chants ‘Ganpati bappa moraya’. In some areas, firecrackers were also burst to welcome the Lord.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray also welcomed Lord Ganesh at his official residence ‘Varsha’. Some celebrities and political leaders also installed the idols at their places. The installation of the deity was done as per the rituals in the morning.

Security beefed up

Meanwhile, security has been beefed up in the city for the festival. Apart from the local police, a company of Rapid Action Force (RAF), three companies of State Reserve Police Force (SRPF), local arms and riot control police have been deployed.

Quick response teams, bomb disposal squads and anti-terrorism cells have also been put on alert to prevent untoward incidents. Police will monitor the happenings in the city with the help of 5,000 CCTV cameras and also use drones for aerial surveillance, a police official said.


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