Committee members visit Chamundi Hills and palace; decision soon on scale of celebrations

The COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee was in Mysuru on Friday after the State government sought its expert opinion on how to conduct the ensuing Dasara festivities amidst the pandemic. The committee’s views were sought after concerns were expressed over the reported move to relax the curbs for allowing public participation and cultural events at the palace.

Minister for Health and Family Welfare B. Sriramulu had said here recently that the government would take a final call on the festivities – on whether to allow a small gathering and conduct any events – based on the technical committee’s report.

The committee headed by Dr. Sudarshan, which arrived here from Bengaluru, had a brief interaction with Deputy Commissioner Rohini Sindhuri on the COVID-19 situation and later proceeded to the venues of festivities – Chamundi Hills (inauguration venue) and the Mysuru palace (the venue of Jamboo Savari on the final day) – and interacted with the authorities there.

The committee members went to Sri Chamundeshwari Temple atop Chamundi Hills. The temple chief priest Shashi Shekhar Dixit accompanied the members who went around the temple complex and also saw the place where the Dasara inauguration usually takes place adjoining the temple complex. Mr. Dixit explained the rituals and other details that are part of the inauguration.

The officials of the Palace Board briefed the committee at the palace on the Jamboo Savari, which will be limited to the palace environs as part of low-key celebrations, and the seating arrangements that are usually made at the palace during the finale for the public to watch the proceedings.

The committee is expected to submit its report to the government and the Health Ministry on its observations and opinion considering the pandemic situation.

When Minister for Medical Education K. Sudhakar was in Mysuru recently, he cited the example of Kerala where the cases surged after it relaxed restrictions on account of Onam festival. “We need to keep in mind what happened in Kerala before a decision is taken on allowing the events and gathering at the Dasara,” he said.

The question before the government is whether to conduct the festivities in a simple manner and whether to allow the public to participate, after concerns were expressed from various quarters, including some BJP’s elected representatives, on relaxing the curbs on gatherings. The city is readying for the celebrations with the major streets and circles now equipped with lights for Dasara illumination.

The committee opined that the COVID-19 situation before and after Onam needs to be pondered and a decision taken accordingly. Based on its report, the government, in consultation with the Ministers and the officials, is expected to announce its decision with only a few days left for the festivities to begin.

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