MUMBAI: After two years of celebrating festivals under the shadow of Covid-19 restrictions, CM Eknath Shinde on Thursday announced that restrictions on Ganeshotsav will be eased this year and dahi handi which was not celebrated during the pandemic will be allowed too. Muharram processions will also be allowed.
Shinde and deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis had a review meeting on law and order ahead of the upcoming festivals of Ganeshotsav and dahi handi as well as Muharram processions
The government announced that the height restrictions for Ganpati idols will be done away with and a single-window online system will be set up, making it easy for mandals to get permissions. Application fees and undertakings by mandals have been waived too.
“For the last two years, there were too many restrictions on these festivals. But this year, these festivals will be celebrated with much fanfare. All restrictions have been eased,” said Shinde, adding that no penalty should be levied on mandals for digging holes on roads to set up pandals.
Two years on, city mandals can bring Bappa back with fervour
Announcing easing of restrictions for Ganeshotsav this year, CM Eknath Shinde said on Thursday that all noise pollution complaints on mandals will be reviewed and minor complaints will be withdrawn. “Court orders on the use of loudspeakers will be followed,” said deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis. The state government has set up a technical committee under the environment department to frame a policy regarding the use of plaster of paris (PoP) for making Ganpati idols from next year.
The use of PoP idols has been allowed by the BMC this year. “Just like every year, this year too toll waiver will be given to private cars travelling to Konkan for Ganpati,” said Shinde. As dahi handi involves contact, it was not allowed to be celebrated for the past two years. Though the government has allowed celebrations this year, all Supreme Court guidelines on the age of participants and the safety measures for the govindas will be continued. After Thursday’s meeting with the authorities, Ganesh mandals were pleased that the state had conceded their plea to restore regular celebrations.
Naresh Dahibawkar, president of the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samanvay Samiti (BSGSS), represents 12,500-odd mandals. He said, “We are happy that we will have a normal Ganeshotsav just like we did in 2019 before Covid struck. The government has agreed to relax all pandemic-specific restrictions. There is no bar on the height of idols, plaster of paris moortis, physical darshan or prasad distribution. But law-and-order guidelines will be binding on mandals. The state has also waived the nominal Rs 100 mandap charge as a goodwill gesture. We have requested the authorities to withdraw police cases filed against mandal karyakartas.”
The Dahi Handi Samanvay Samiti would have liked to be invited too, but was left out. “Nevertheless, now that the worst of Covid is behind us, we hope to be permitted to celebrate dahi handi with the human pyramid like we did in the pre-pandemic years. In fact our govinda pathaks began practice on Guru Purnima day as is the ritual,” said Samiti president Arun Patil who is affiliated with the Tadwadi mandal, Mazgaon. Dahi handi or Gokulashtami falls August 19 while Ganeshotsav will be celebrated August 31 through September 9.