Kolkata: The Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata are taking inspiration from various incidents happened over the last year for their theme such as lockdown, Ram temple and migrant crisis etc.
The Calcutta High Court had directed strict restrictions for this year’s puja celebration to maintain social distancing norms and reduced the entry to organisers, priests, and dhakis, due to the pandemic.
Some organisers are also planning to install big screens outside the pandal to help the visitors to get a clear view of the pandal from inside.
The Durga Puja in Belur Math which is run by Ramakrishna Mission has decided to live-stream the puja and other rituals on Doordarshan as well as YouTube.
Also, the West Bengal Government has announced that it will not hold the annual Durga Puja carnival which is held every year on the day of idol immersion.
On Monday, the Calcutta High Court directed the state government to declare all pandals as “no-entry zones” and asked to put barricades around them under a radius of 10 metres from the entry points and five metres for the smaller pandals.
The Forum for Durgatsav, which is an umbrella organisation of 400 puja committees filed a review plea on Wednesday. After which the High Court eased out some restrictions. It earlier said that big pandals can have 25-30 people along with the organisers and priests. Similarly for smaller pandals, it was reduced to 15 people.
In the new order, pandals will remain as ‘no-entry zones’ whereas 45 people will be able to enter big pandals (the limit of 15 people stays for smaller ones).
The Court has also prohibited playing of the traidtional Sindur Khela on the immersion day, where women in the community play with vermillion together.
Secretary of the Forum Saswata Basu said, “We have arranged for live-streaming of Durga Puja. Some pandals are offering online anjali. We are doing everything possible to maintain social distancing norms,” was quoted as saying by The Print.
Puja During COVID-19
The vistors usually begin their pandal-hopping even before Panchami, but this year it’s not the same.
A Kolkata Police Officer said, “This is not even five per cent of the total footfall we receive generally. Every year, lakhs of people come on the streets for pandals, but this year, there would be no entry beyond 10 metres of the big pujas.”
According to the officer, all puja committees will have to inform local police stations about the measures they have taken for crowd control. These would have to be submitted to the high court by the end of the puja, the officer added.
The officer also said that the puja committees will have to inform local police stations about the measures to control the crowd. They would have to be submitted by the end of the puja to the Calcutta High Court.