Bhopal, Aug 22 (PTI) Ganesh festival began on a low-key note in Madhya Pradesh on Saturday under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic amid restrictions on public gatherings.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan installed an idol of Lord Ganesh at his residence and urged people to celebrate the ten-day festival at their homes.
The state government had directed that big idols of Lord Ganesh not be made this year as public celebrations are not allowed.
The government also said that public processions for immersion of idols will not be allowed, and that centers to collect idols would be set up in every ward and locality.
Hindu outfits have expressed displeasure over the government's decisions.
'Over 5,000 workers of the Congress on Saturday joined the BJP in a function attended by thousands of people in Gwalior. But, the BJP government fears the spread of xoronavirus due to gathering of a dozen peoplein Ganesh pandals,' Chandrashekhar Tiwari of Sanskriti Bachao Manch said.
Meanwhile, makers of idols of Lord Ganesh have lamented the poor sale this year and sought help of the government.
'I could sell only 10-15 of 120 idols in the day. We were hopeful till Saturday evening but now no hope to clear the stock,' Bharat Singh, an idol maker, said.
Singh said most of the people who had booked idols earlier have cancelled their orders due to the decision of the administration to not allow processions.
'We are on the verge of starvation. I have invested Rs 4.5 lakh with almost no returns. Now, only the state government can offer us help,' he said.
On the other hand, state BJP spokesman Rajneesh Agrawal told PTI that the government took the decision due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
He said the government had launched a scheme for small businesses and idol-makers can also be benefited.
Asked about Gwalior's programme of the BJP attended by a large number of people, he said it can't be compared with the Ganesh Utsav, which is a community programme.
'Everybody who attended the BJP programme in Gwalior was enrolled and followed guidelines, but this can't be done in public programmes like Ganesh Utsav,' he added. PTI ADU NSK NSK