MUMBAI: Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Thursday appealed to north Indians residing in the state to celebrate the 'Chhath Puja' in a low-key manner, considering the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
Deshmukh also appealed to people to follow the state government's guidelines, which have asked devotees not to gather around lakes/ponds or sea sides in view of the COVID-19 threat, according to an official statement.
The 'Chhath' festival, dedicated to the Sun god, will be celebrated on Friday and Saturday by people who originally hail from north India.
In the past, the annual festival used to see large numbers of devotees thronging beaches, river banks and other water bodies at sunrise and sunset.
Deshumukh in the statement said people should avoid crowding around lakes/ponds or sea shore for the puja, and asked them to celebrate the festival in a simple manner while staying at home to ensure the coronavirus does not spread.
As per the guidelines, artificial ponds should be created with the help of municipal corporations, public representatives and NGOs, and appropriate steps be taken to ensure safety and hygiene, the statement said.
No mandap should be erected, and religious and cultural events should not be organised, it said.
The statement also said there will be a ban on bursting firecrackers and using loudspeakers during the festival.
People should wear masks and observe social distancing while celebrating the festival, it said.
Earlier, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on Tuesday put restrictions on mass celebration of 'Chhath Puja' at natural water bodies in the city and asked devotees to avoid crowding in view of the pandemic.