Karnataka Permits Muted Public Celebrations Of Ganesh Chaturthi With Covid Curbs

Karnataka has permitted the public celebration of the Ganesha festival this year but with several restrictions.

The size of the idols have been restricted to two feet inside homes and four feet in public (File)

Bengaluru:

Coronavirus has changed the way we live, work and celebrate festivals. And while Karnataka has permitted the public celebration of the Ganesha festival - it is quite muted.

Encouraged by relatively low new daily Covid case numbers - hovering around a thousand per day compared to over 50,000 at the peak of the second wave in April-May - and a positivity rate below 2% in most districts, Karnataka has permitted the public celebration of the Ganesha festival this year. However, with experts warning of an impending third wave of Coronavirus, the state has also imposed several restrictions.

"It is less crowded. And there are not many people to celebrate. It is much more fun when there are more people,' Samaa, a young girl told NDTV as people continue to embrace the new normal.

In Bengaluru, which earlier had Ganpati celebrations on many streets, there is now just one public pandal in every ward.

Authorities have capped the number of devotees permitted at a time to 20 and have prohibited live performances at the pandals and made it mandatory for all organisers to be vaccinated and carry Covid negative reports.

In the capital city, immersion processions with the idols have been banned and idols will have to be immersed at home or in mobile tankers provided by the city's civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

The city has also deployed Home Guards and BBMP Marshalls to ensure all Covid guidelines are being followed.

Even as people continue to get accustomed to the new normal and follow all protocols, the restriction on the size of the idols - two feet inside homes and four feet in public - has drawn criticism.

"The Government can't differentiate. It is up to the bhakta and bhagavanta to decide what size of idols they will have in the house or outside. Otherwise, you should have not permitted any festivities outside the residences," Karnataka Congress President DK Shivakumar told NDTV.

"They should not have restricted the size. In Bombay, there is a 30-feet idol. In Chennai, there is a 40-feet idol. Karnataka is not any less," Srinivas, the owner of a shop selling Ganesha idols, told NDTV.

Many idols remain unsold, he said, adding, "Because the Corporation has not given permission, nobody is coming to buy Ganpati. The Ganpatis we made are all left. Even the ones we made two years ago have been sold yet."

Even as authorities attempted to put curbs to prevent any surge in Covid cases, some felt the rules did not apply to them. A few areas had more than one idol per ward. And one pandal had a 6-feet-tall Ganesha idol.

Vamshi, the organiser, seemed defiant. "The government has given the rules but we should respect the Hindu culture."

But most places have adhered to the Covid guidelines issued by the state. Speaking to NDTV, an organiser said, "We have followed every rule given by the BBMP. We have ensured social distancing is being followed. Our idol size is 4.5 feet this year. Earlier, we used to have 12-feet idols but we have to follow the rules. So we kept a small idol."

Karnataka on Thursday reported the lowest number of Covid-related deaths since the beginning of the second wave with four fatalities, taking the death count to 37,462, news agency PTI reported. The state logged 1,074 new infections which took the number of overall cases to 29,59,164. Of the four deaths, three were reported from Bengaluru along with 343 cases of the virus.

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