The Tamil Nadu state government has imposed a ban on all celebrations of religious festivals, until September 15, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

These include banning the installation of Lord Ganesha idols in public and the procession of the deity's statues for immersion in bodies of water across the state, for the Vinayagar Chathurti celebrations on September 10 (Friday), and barring people from congregating at churches in Chennai, Velangkanni, and Nagapattinam, among others, for the celebration of Mother Mary's birthday on September 8.

In a recent directive, the state government noted that this was to prevent a spike in COVID-19 infections in the state, as witnessed during the Eid Al-Adha and Onam celebrations in Kerala.

People have been urged to celebrate Chathurti at their respective homes, and permission will only be given to individuals to immerse statues at bodies of water near their homes.

The rule is slightly relaxed in Karnataka, where the government has allowed up to 20 people to gather for a celebration and immersion of the Ganesha idol. However, no celebration will be allowed to take place after 9pm.

Processions and food distribution will be prohibited. Celebrations will also be barred at places with hight COVID-19 positivity rates.

Mumbai, meanwhile, has allowed processions and other rites to proceed but warned that police presence will be stepped up at the locations of the celebrations to ensure devotees follow COVID-19 norms, such as practising social distancing and wearing face masks.

It is worth noting that the Kumbh Mela festival, which took place in the Himalayan town of Haridhwar last May, turned out to be a COVID-19 super-spreader event.

India remains the second worst-hit country by the pandemic, with over 33 million infections and more than 440,000 deaths, reported to date. The United States remains on top.

Source: Times of India, Live Mint,
Photo source: Times of India