In less than 24 hours after Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant tweeted disapproving certain guidelines, the state government withdrew the SOP it had issued for the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations.
Sawant had tweeted, "I personally do not agree with some of the guidelines that were issued in the SOP, especially the one stopping priests from going to individual households for puja. Ganesh Chaturthi is the most important festival in Goa and such rituals are an integral part of it."
“While the expert committee may have suggested such curbs, I have asked the administration to withdraw the SOP immediately. Chaturthi must be celebrated with full fervour while taking all the necessary precautions, given the pandemic. May Lord Ganesh bless us all,” he added.
Among the various guidelines listed by the SOP was one restricting the visits by priests to homes of people for puja rituals. It sought that priests conduct online puja and families take to ‘performing rituals using technology such as YouTube or WhatsApp videos’ as reported.
According to the SOP that was issued on Tuesday (7 September), households having Covid-19 patients were prohibited from inviting guests or visiting others; people - mainly elders and children - were discouraged from visiting idol-making workshops and allowed only upto five people in vehicles heading for idol immersion.
But after CM himself tweeted in disagreement, the SOP was withdrawn, keeping sentiments of all the people in mind.
As reported by Hindustan Times, Sawant said “these were suggestions given by doctors on the expert committee following a meeting held according to directions of the High Court. And they have been taken as SOPs just as they were routinely on the file. Ganesh Chaturthi is a state festival and there is excitement about it in every home. I understand people’s sentiments. Everyone wants a priest to come to their house and perform a puja and everyone also wants to have a proper Ganpati immersion”.
“I can only appeal to people that they must take all precautions to ensure that there is no spread of Covid 19. The routine SOPs issued by Collectors should be followed and there should be no crowding,” he added.
Amidst this SOP issue, Sawant urged people to greet each other this festival season by enquiring about their wellness and if they have taken the vaccine or not, as per reports. ”Boro mure? Vaxin ghethlem? (How are you? Have you taken the vaccine?)“ should be the greeting exchanged, said the CM while inaugurating an oxygen generation plant in Margao, adding that the state was fully prepared in terms of both infrastructure and human resources to tackle any possible third wave.
Hoping that Goa doesn’t see a surge of Covid-19 cases like Maharashtra and Kerala are witnessing, Sawant asked people to "go for testing immediately if you experience any symptoms, wait at home until you get your report, and get hospitalised if needed. Don’t remain untested just because you want to enjoy Ganesh Chaturthi,” he warned.
Goa will be fully vaccinated by 31 October "if everybody takes the second dose in time", said Sawant, adding that the state had no dearth of vaccines.
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