With the outbreak of the global pandemic, life has come a standstill. With the festive season of Durga Puja coming up, people although scared of the virus, are excited about the festivities and celebrations that follow. That being said, people have also kept in mind the dangers posed by the virus and have come up with innovative ways such as virtual streaming of pandals to implement social distancing and attempting to minimize any spread of the virus.
In Assam, the Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has announced a set of rules and regulations to be followed. “After 10 pm, the puja mandap has to be closed down. Secondly, two men cannot do pillion riding. Women and children can, but two men cannot. Cultural functions and competitions are prohibited, but aarti shall be allowed. Apart from these, people have to ensure the wearing of masks and usage of hand sanitizers. Permission to immerse the idols should be taken 2-3 days prior from the district administrations. Processions accompanying the idols shall not be allowed. “, said Biswa Sarma in an official statement. The new rules include that organisers must seek permission from the DA and the pujas should be held under an open roof. On day 5 of the puja, all members included in the proceedings of the puja shall be tested. The same members must be tested after the Visarjan too. Biswa Sarma also appealed for the public to be vigilant to help continue tackle the coronavirus in a successful manner.
In West Bengal, the Calcutta High court declared that all pandals will be no-entry zones for visitors, wherein, only organizers will be allowed entry, provided that their names will be in the list displayed outside the pandal. Five meters beyond the ends of the small pandals and ten meters beyond the large pandals should also be barricaded and demarcated as no entry zones, The Court stressed. All 34,000 Durga Puja pandals in the state will be subject to this direction. While giving the order, the judge said, “the virus refuses to go away. Though the healthcare facilities had been augmented with limited resources available. In this situation than to allow festivities to go on without any checks and repent when the time to cure arrives and adequate resources are not available therefore.”
In Mumbai, the celebrations have been taken down by a notch. The Bombay Durgabari Samiti, a women led organization has said that the puja this year will be webcasted to the devotees, and ghat puja will be observed instead of using an idol. Moreover, the venue chosen this year is the Sangam Hall in Marine Drive which is smaller compared to that of last year. All BMC norms of social distancing will be taken care of.
All of this being said, this year will be a little disappointing for the all the devotees, but they must understand that all of the measures taken are only for their wellbeing.