Mumbai gears up to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi amid surging Covid cases

By Livemint
Ganesh Chaturthi: The BMC has banned physical darshan for devotees at public pandals (AP)

Mumbai has witnessed a surge in its daily coronavirus as the city gets ready for its biggest festival of the year.

The 11-day festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, celebrating Hindu God Ganesha is set to begin on Friday. Amid this, Mumbai has begun to see a more than two-fold rise in Covid-19 cases in less than a month.

The daily Covid-19 infections in Mumbai, which were at a low of 190 on August 16 have now climbed to 530 on Wednesday.

Mumbai recorded a peak of 11,000 cases during India's devastating second wave this year but won accolades for the way it recovered and curbed infections.

When the cases decline in the city, the Maharashtra government lifted Covid-related curbs, including the resumption of its famed local trains for fully vaccinated passengers.

However, as the Ganesh festival approaches authorities have imposed fresh curbs on public processions and restricted crowding at public pandals.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has banned physical darshan for devotees at public pandals.

The BMC has directed only 10 people, preferably fully vaccinated, should accompany the idol for immersion. And, not more than five are allowed for the household Ganpati, the city's civic body said.

"Considering the potential danger of a third COVID-19 wave, devotees are strictly forbidden from taking darshan. It has been decided that Ganeshotsav mandals should provide darshan facility to devotees through cable network, website, Facebook or (other) social media," the civic body said.

BMC said that the mandals falling in Covid-19 containment zones will have to make arrangements for the immersion of the Ganpati idols in the pandal premises or postpone it. Similarly, in sealed buildings, devotees will have to make arrangements for the immersion of idols at home, it added.

The civic body has already restricted the height of household Ganpati idols to two feet and for the public mandals to four feet. The cap on the height of Ganpati idols and restrictions on celebrations have been imposed for the second year in a row to curb the spread of the COVID-19.

Ahead of the Ganesh Utsav, the number of sealed buildings increased to 50 in India's financial capital, the BMC said.

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