Maha: Ganesh fest begins under COVID-19 cloud for 2nd consecutive year, ‘darshan’ goes online

Devotees welcomed Lord Ganesh in their homes and public pandals on Friday as the 10-day festival dedicated to the elephant-headed God began in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra with focus on online ‘darshan’ amid the coronavirus pandemic and looming threat of a third wave.
Devotees offer prayers outside Pune’s Dagduseth Halwai Ganpati Temple on Ganesh Chaturthi
Devotees offer prayers outside Pune’s Dagduseth Halwai Ganpati Temple on Ganesh Chaturthi

Mumbai

For the second straight year, the pandemic cast a long shadow on festivities with the Maharashtra government placing a slew of restrictions to avoid gathering and processions. The Maharashtra government has banned physical ‘darshan’ of Lord Ganesh at community pandals (marquees) and said only online ‘darshan’ or telecast from pandals would be allowed.
Citing the COVID-19 situation, the Mumbai police have imposed orders under CrPC section 144 prohibiting assembly of five or more persons during the Ganesh festival between September 10 to 19.
No processions of any kind would be allowed in Mumbai during this period and devotees would not be allowed to visit Ganesh pandals either, an official statement said on Thursday.
People can have `darshan’ of Ganesh idols installed in pandals through the online mode or through other electronic media (such as TV), it said.
The Maharashtra home department has issued a circular banning visit to pandals so as to prevent the spread of the viral infection.
Also, the height Lord Ganesh idols to be installed has been restricted.
In Mumbai, there are around 12,000 sarvajanik (community) mandals and nearly two lakh homes where idols of the deity are installed.
Ganesh festival begins in Pune on muted note
The annual Ganesh festival began in Pune on Friday as devotees welcomed the deity in their homes and at pandals but without much fanfare in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on processions and gatherings.
Key Ganesh mandals, including five ‘’manache’’ (revered ) mandals, performed ‘’pranpratishtha’’ (installation) of idols in pandals (marquees) in the city with COVID-19 protocols.
This is the second year in a row when the festival, the most popular and awaited religious event in Maharashtra, is being celebrated in a muted and simple manner in view of COVID-19 and looming threat of a third wave.
Mahesh Suryavanshi, a trustee at Shreemant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati, said the ‘’pranpratishtha’’ of the city’s most endearing deity, was performed inside the main temple in a simple manner and by following all COVID-19 norms.
The civic administration has appealed to all Ganesh mandals to celebrate the festival in a simple manner and make arrangements for online ‘’darshan’’ for devotees to avoid gatherings.

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