- Rajasthan Covid cases see 1.34 % rise in week; active cases past 26,000
- Rajasthan logging over 3,000 Covid cases daily; night curfew imposed
- Maximum 100 guests at weddings; masks, sanitisers, social distancing must
A record number of weddings will be held in Rajasthan from Wednesday until November 30 which is one of the more auspicious dates for wedding ceremonies in the Hindu calendar. State capital Jaipur alone is likely to witness a record 4,000 weddings during the period.
The weddings - taking place at a time when the state reporting over 3,000 Coronavirus cases daily - has send jitters among health officials.
Covid cases in Rajasthan have seen a 1.34 % rise since the past four days. The state's active caseload has crossed the 26,000-mark; Jaipur continues to report over 600 cases, the highest across the state. The spike in the state capital worried authorities enough that a night curfew and other measures were announced this week.
The Ashok Gehlot government has also put a limit of 100 guests and mandatory use of masks at weddings across the state.
"Yes I did feel bad that a lot of my friends could not attend especially those from abroad but then I guess smaller gatherings are safer also," says Niharika Singh, a bride-to-be.
Her mother, Usha, adds: " We have such a large social circle but if you see here the guests are less than a 100. Now some people have declined as they are scared to venture out but for us it doesn't work out economically as we still have to pay for a hundred guests as the caterer and the organiser will charge a minimum for the food and the venue , so it's said I wish more people could have come as we have made all the arrangements ".
State capital Jaipur alone will host a record 4,000 weddings on the 25th, 27th and the 30th of November - the three most auspicious days for weddings this season. But with a Covid surge in the city, it's a cause for worry, especially for those in the wedding business.
"The first thing is wear a mask or we won't do the puja. There are so many weddings but we try and avoid overcrowding for example we don't let anyone but the parents of the bride sit at the mandap," says head priest Kamal Chand Shashtri.
But weddings are bound to be super spreader events and the government is trying to keep a grip on the situation with some tough guidelines. Guests not more than 100, compulsory masks for everyone, use of sanitisers and social distancing at wedding venues are some of the conditions that need to be ensured at the weddings. Also, people will not be allowed to hold baarats (a pre-wedding procession in the streets that sees dozens of people congregating). Any violations of these conditions will invite a fine of Rs 25,000, the government has said.
"We already have section 144 in place but we have asked people that they have to make a video of the marriage so if there are any violations they can be penalised. During the wedding the police or administration cannot intervene but this will work as a deterrent when they know after the wedding they can be fined anything between Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000," said Dr KK Sharma , Director Health , Rajasthan.
But experts say that penalising after the weddings will not help to keep the corona graph down. Citing the rise in virus cases after the Diwali festivities, they point out that wedding shopping and wedding gatherings could also lead to a surge in Covid numbers once again.
Rajasthan recorded 3,285 fresh cases and 18 more Covid-related deaths on Wednesday, according to a health department bulletin. The state's infection tally now stands at 2,53,767, while the total number of deaths in the state has reached 2,218.
The number of active COVID-19 cases stands at 26,320 in the state.