Unfazed by protests of opposition parties and rival service organisations, the CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala has restricted Onam festivities in state-run offices and institutions during working hours.
The Government Order, issued in this regard, made it clear, on 30 August, that the festivities should not be conducted during office hours.
The official Onam celebrations of this year will begin on 12 September and the festivities should be conducted without causing any difficulties to public and affecting the operations of the office, it said.
"The government is of the view that it is appropriate to avoid conducting celebrations in offices as it affects work there. The celebrations should be arranged in such a manner that it should not affect the work and not cause any difficulties to public," the order, issued by the Chief Secretary SM Vijayanand said.
The Chief Secretary also asked all department heads to initiate strict action to ensure implementation of the order.
Triggering heated debates, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said in a Facebook post last week that it was not appropriate and proper that Onam festivities, including laying of pookalams (floral carpets), are held in state-run institutions during office hours.
He had also suggested that the celebrations could instead be held on holidays or after the office hours.
"Not only Onam, for that matter, any festival celebrations should be held without affecting the functioning of office work. In this matter, government would ensure its intervention," he wrote on the social networking site.
Vijayan also warned against buying and selling of various articles on office premises during the festive season and said it would be restricted as these activities consume a major chunk of work hours.
Opposition Congress-led UDF and BJP had come out criticising the Chief Minister's direction to regulate Onam festivities.