New Delhi: The cases of COVID-19 has been declining since the past few weeks. It has fallen to less than 50,000 from over 97,000 daily cases. Also, the government of India says that it has also crossed the COVID-19 peak. It is expected that the pandemic will recede by February 2021.
However, due to the government is scared that as the festive season has just begun India may observe a major spike in the cases due to gatherings. Though the state government have chalked out rules and regulations to follow them to handle such gatherings, it is seriously doubted how strictly they will be implemented.
In West Bengal, Durga Puja celebrations have already started with several restrictions. Also, the Calcutta High Court has declared that all Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata to be non-visitors zone. The visitors and offer their prayers from a distant.
General secretary of Kolkata’s Durga Puja Committee Arijit Moitra, said that already a month before, the state government had issued Covid-19 protocols for pandal organisers. It included safety measures for proper ventilation along with social distancing and proper sanitisation of the premises.
Moitra said, We have been following the protocol but now the high court has delivered its order. Over 400 pandal organisers in Kolkata have moved the court urging it to reconsider its verdict,” was quoted as saying by India Today.
He also added, “We have restricted the number of visitors in the pandal to 20 people at a time. Everyone will have to undergo thermal screening and wear masks. We will also be ensuring that physical distancing is maintained.”
Similarly, in Gujarat, the ‘Dandiya‘ or ‘Garba‘ programmes are held during Navratri. Thousands of people participate in these programs and dance together.
However, this year due to COVID-19, most Garba organisers in Gujarat have decided to cancel the programmes and are keeping things very low-key.
Hemant Shah from the Development Committee of United Way of Baroda also shared his thoughts that how he had to cut down the celebrations keeping COVID-19 situation in mind.
He said that the committee has been organising Navratri programmes for the past 23 years. “We used to organise g”arba where 30,000 boys and girls would participate at a time before a crowd of nearly 15,000 people.”
“The committee has decided not to hold Navratra celebrations, except the daily aarti and very limited gathering where social distancing is ensured,” Shah said.
In Delhi, the Durga Puja in Chittaranjan Park is celebrated in the same way as in Bengal. However, this year the elders have decided not to organise huge celebrations and pandals.
Aam Aadmi Party MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj said, “All Durga Puja committee organisers in CR Park met yesterday and decided that this time they would not hold the big pandals. Most of the committee members are senior citizens and are vulnerable to Covid-19. They would be at risk if people in large numbers from outside visit the locality.”
“The organisers have requested the police to barricade CR Park during Durga Puja so that no one can enter the area,” Bharadwaj added.
They had come up with a new idea of delivering ‘prasad‘ or ‘bhog‘ through online mode to anyone who places an order at a small fee.
Dr Shashank Joshi, member Covid-19 taskforce in Maharashtra said that the recent celebrations in Maharashtra and Kerala show that even small gatherings during festivities can infect people which will be a huge problem.
“The festive season along with vector-borne disease and pollution can be a triple whammy if we don’t take precautions. We have to be self-reliant and self-protective,” he said.
He said that it is a crucial time for our country because India has just started seeing a flattening of the COVID-19 curve.
Joshi said, “We can’t afford to have a second peak as we have seen in the US and Europe. We are already broken and fractured, we can’t afford another peak.”