Bhubaneswar: In a departure from the past, Ganesh Chaturthi festival was celebrated without the usual pomp and fanfare across Odisha on Saturday because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
People observed the Ganesh puja only at home as the administration denied permission for holding community puja in pandals in public places to contain the spread of the disease.
This apart, a week-end shutdown on Saturday and Sunday is also in force in districts like Ganjam, Khurda, Gajapati and Cuttack with restrictions on the movement of people.
Hundreds of pandals are erected every year to celebrate the Ganesh puja with much fanfare in the twin cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.
No organisation, club or group is allowed to celebrate the puja in public places, Bhubaneswar Deputy Commissioner of Police Umashankar Dash said. Cuttack Collector Bhawani Shankar Chayani said that the festival is not being celebrated in public places as the COVID-19 situation is yet to improve in the district.
Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan and a host of dignitaries have greeted people on the occasion.
Wishing all happiness and prosperity, the chief minister in a message expressed hope that the coronavirus crisis will soon wither away with the blessings of Lord Ganesh.
“Hon’ble Governor wishes everyone a very happy #GaneshChaturthi and prays for the blessings of the Lord to ease people’s troubles & pain due to COVID-19 pandemic & to bestow good health, wealth, peace and prosperity upon all. #GanpatiBappaMorya,” said the official Twitter handle of Lal.
In a message, Union Petroleum and Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan wished peace, happiness and prosperity for all.
“Greetings on the auspicious festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. May the blessings of Bhagwan Shri Ganesh always be upon us. May there be joy and prosperity all over,” Union Minister of State for MSME Pratap Sarangi tweeted.
The business of idol makers are affected as no community puja was allowed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and many people chose to hold the puja at home without idols.
“We had to make less number of idols this time compared to previous years and sell them at a very low price,” said an idol maker in Bhubaneswar.