Bengaluru: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has urged people to avoid using flowers from other states for Onam celebrations this year.
Onam is the harvest festival of Kerala, and is celebrated with much fervour. Special floral carpets called pookalams form an integral part of the celebrations. Pookalam competitions are held across the state, with huge cash rewards announced for the best designs. The festival will be observed on 30 August this year.
Vijayan has asked people to use locally-sourced flowers, adding that transporting flowers from epidemic hotspots in neighbouring states may constitute a Covid-19 transmission hazard.
“We cannot risk the spread of the virus when people transport it from other states. Our focus is on reducing the spread and bringing down the death rate,” he said at his daily media briefing Wednesday.
Strict advisories issued
Onam is a time when a large number of native residents return to Kerala, which poses another challenge for the state government as it looks to ensure they are not carriers of the virus.
Police and district officials have been given strict instructions to ensure people maintain protocol, and strict advisories have been issued for the public to follow safety guidelines. Government sources said any violation will be punished with legal action.
“This is the time for people to come back home to meet their families and spend time together. This time, we hope people understand the gravity of the situation and do not form large groups,” said an official from the chief minister’s office. “Community Onam celebrations, which are usually the tradition, should be avoided as much as possible. This is what we have been requesting people.”
As of Thursday morning, Kerala has 17,442 active Covid-19 cases, with 32,607 recoveries and 182 deaths.
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