Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh on Friday urged people to celebrate Ganeshotsav, beginning from Saturday, in a low-key manner and avoid crowding in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also urged Muslim community members to observe Muharram, which falls in the month-end, in a simple manner and avoid gathering, an official statement said.
The government has also issued guidelines regarding Ganeshotsav celebrations, saying that processions should not be taken out before installing and immersing idols.
It said the heights of Lord Ganesh idols installed by sarvajanik (community) mandals and at household-level should be limited to 4 feet and 2 feet, respectively, this year.
The statement said all mandals (associations) need to set up mandaps (decorated temporary covered structures) in line with the policies formulated by municipal corporations or the local administration.
The Ganeshotsav is to be celebrated in a simple manner this year, so there should be no pomp in the decorations by sarvajanik mandals or individuals installing idols in homes, the statement quoted Deshmukh as saying.
The government said people should possibly worship idols made of metals, marbles or other elements instead of installing conventional ones this year.
If the idols installed are made of clay or are eco- friendly, then those should be immersed at home itself, the statement said.
Idols should be immersed at a nearby artificial pond if it is not possible to immerse them at homes, the statement said.
If possible, the send off of idols should be postponed until the time of immersions of idols installed during Maghi Ganeshotsav or during the month of Bhadrapad 2021, that is, next year.
This will help avoid crowding while bringing/immersing idols and protect oneself and family from the COVID-19 infection, it added.
Preferably, health-related advertisements should be displayed during the 10-day festival to help people keep themselves safe and avoid the infection, the government said.
It urged mandals to undertake health initiatives instead of organising cultural programmes.
The government said mandals should try to arrange for online darshan of Lord Ganeshs idols.
It said mandaps be disinfected, thermal screening be arranged for and physical distancing related norms be strictly adhered to by devotees turning up at mandaps to seek darshan of the elephant-headed God.
Similarly, the government had issued a circular on Wednesday, saying Muslims should observe Muharram in a simple manner and avoid crowding.
It had also said that matam (mourning) processions should not be taken out keeping in mind the COVID-19 outbreak.