Mumbai imposes curbs on major religious festival amid COVID spike
India’s financial hub introduces new safety measures and restrictions for its biggest Hindu festival amid a resurgence in COVID cases.
India’s financial hub Mumbai has introduced new safety measures and restrictions for its biggest Hindu festival amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.
Police barred public processions and restricted crowds for the 11-day festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, celebrating the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha, that started on Friday.
Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations normally see massive crowds across the city, where towering idols of Ganesha are placed in marquees, locally referred to as “pandals”, accompanied by song and dance performances.
The festival ends with the immersion of the idols into the sea, usually attended by millions of people.
This year, people are banned from visiting marquees, while the city’s municipal agency has said only 10 people, preferably fully vaccinated, should accompany the idol for immersion.
The curbs come as the number of daily coronavirus cases in the western Indian city surged, rising more than twofold in less than a month.
The infections in the city, which were at a low of 190 on August 16, rose to 530 daily infections on Wednesday, according to government data.
“The third wave is not coming. It is already here,” Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar told reporters this week, urging citizens to stay home and celebrate the festival.
Mumbai was among India’s virus hotspots, recording more than 11,000 daily cases as a virulent second wave of the pandemic peaked in April and May.
Authorities have voiced concerns that the Hindu religious festival season, which sees large congregations and busy markets, could spark a possible third wave in the country.
Another big Hindu festival, Dussehra, also known as Durga Puja, is due in October, and Diwali, the festival of lights, will be celebrated three weeks later.
India is currently second only to the United States in terms of its coronavirus caseload, with more than 33.17 million cases. About 442,000 people have died.