The Maharashtra government on Tuesday urged people to celebrate the upcoming Navratri and Dussehra festivals in a low-key manner due to the coronavirus outbreak and suggested organisation of health and blood donation camps instead of dandiya, garba and cultural events involving mass participation.
In guidelines issued during the day by the state home department, festivals organisers, also called mandals in local parlance, were asked to spread awareness on COVID-19, malaria and dengue among other diseases.
As per the guidelines, the height of Goddess Durga idols installed by mandals (during Navratri) have been capped at four feet and household ones at two feet, and immersion procession, crowded affairs during normal times, have been disallowed.
It also suggested that devotees opt for metal idols this time, and digital darshan through local cable networks, streaming formats and social media.
It instructed mandals to arrange for thermal screening at pandals (festival arena), which must be disinfected.
Devotees desirous of darshan should strictly adhere to social distancing norms and wear masks, the government said.
Immersion should be done in artificial ponds created with the help of municipal corporations, housing societies, public representatives and NGOs, while clay or eco-friendly idols can be immersed at household level, the government said.
Immersion of household and mandal idols from containment zones at public places has been disallowed, it said.
The traditional Dussehra event of burning the effigy of demon king Ravana should be held observing social distancing norms, without spectators, and in a symbolic manner, as per the guidelines.
"Spectators should not be invited. (Organisers) should arrange for live broadcast through social media platforms like Facebook," the government said.