Ganesh Chaturthi this year was held under Covid restraints (Photo Supplied)
Each year, the Paranjape family in Christchurch invites about 80 friends to join them for Ganesh Pooja celebrations at their home.
When it was known that Christchurch would remain at Covid Level 2, the family was worried whether they would need to cancel the event. But there was a limit on the number of people that can assemble at an event but there was no requirement to maintain social distance (unlike in 2020 when Level 2 required a one-meter distance).
After deliberations, which included daughters Neha and Shreya participating via a call from Sydney, the family decided to proceed with the event, but with modifications to suit the Level 2 norms.
Guests and Codes
The first change was to make it a two-evening event instead of one. This allowed the number of people per day to be less than 50. Invitations were extended to the Marathi-speaking friends for the first evening and the others for the second evening.
Contact tracing through QR code: At least one member of each family scanned the QR Code at the entrance, using the New Zealand Covid Tracer App on their smartphones. Being a Justice of the Peace, I had the QR code from 2020. This ensured that 100% of attendees were recorded to make sure contact tracing can happen if needed.
Instead of the usual full meal Prasad offered to guests, the family opted for pre-packed Prasad bags, one per family, helping to reduce person-to-person contact as well as the duration of the event.
Shirish and Manik Paranjape with their Deity in their home (Photo Supplied)
Information to neighbours
Before the event, a written note was dropped in the letterboxes of all our neighbours, to assure them that the event was being held in strict conformance to the Level 2 rules and that it would be free of alcohol, firecrackers and loud music.
With all these arrangements in place to make the event inclusive yet safe for everyone, 44 guests participated in the event on the first (Saturday) evening. Everyone present could feel the positive energy in the room when the prayers (aarti) were sung one after other – with Padmakar Shevde and Amol Adhokar leading – with their energetic voices, and everyone joining in by singing the prayers (aarti) and clapping to the rhythm of the tunes.
Donations to Cancer Society in lieu of personal gifts (Photo Supplied)
Donation to Cancer Society
As in the previous years, all the guests were asked not to bring offerings of any type – fruits, sweets, flowers but to voluntarily donate to the Cancer Society, using a box provided at the event. Like past years, the Paranjape family matched the donations from guests. At the end of the event, the collection in the box was $300, and with our matching grant, the Cancer Society will receive $600.
All the guests were understanding and supportive of the modified style of the event. They felt good to participate in a physical event while conforming to the rules.
Shirish Paranjape is Indian Newslink Correspondent based in Christchurch