MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government has issued a circular saying Muharram should be observed in a simple manner and that processions will not be allowed in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
Muharram is observed by Muslims with abstinence and prayers to mourn the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain in the battle of Karbala in the seventh century.
It marks the first and one of the sacred months of the Islamic calendar.
In the circular issued on Wednesday, the state government said 'matam' (moruning) processions will not be allowed this year, in line with the ban imposed on social and religious programmes by the Centre and the state government to combat COVID-19.
Muslims should mourn inside their homes, like other religious programmes are being observed during the lockdown period, the circular said.
People living in one society also should not congregate to mourn together, and the Majlis (social, cultural or religious gathering) programme should be organised online adhering to norms, the government said.
It also said that permission is not granted to take out Tazia (a replica of tomb of Imam Hussain).
The government said permission should be taken from the local administration for setting up 'Chhabils' (stalls) and not more than two persons should be present there.
Water should be distributed only in sealed bottles from Chhabils and cleanliness and social distancing be observed there, said the circular.
Not more than four people will be allowed in any programme, the government said, and urged people to undertake health initiatives like blood and plasma donation camps considering the COVID-19 situation.
Observing government guidelines aimed at curbing COVID-19 will be binding on all, said the circular.