Ramakrishna Mission devotees will not be able to attend Durga Puja at Belur Math this year because of Covid-related restrictions. But the Mission will not keep devotees out of the celebrations and will allow them on the premises virtually. The entire process of the puja, right from Panchami to immersion, will be live-streamed on social media. After 19 years, there will be no pandal this time and the puja will be conducted inside the temple, just as Swami Vivekananda had started it 121 years ago.
A link has already been created on YouTube, which anyone can click to enter the puja premises and follow the monks and pujaris through the paraphernalia. Details of each day’s puja has been provided there. The website of Belur Math will also broadcast the pujas. In fact, this will be a closer and clearer view with no one to obstruct vision, which sometimes becomes an issue with hundreds of devotees trying to get a view of the puja.
This year, Belur Math will go back to the old way of the puja, which was started by Swami Vivekananda inside the temple 121 years ago. The puja was conducted that way for 102 years till the Mission started erecting pandals 19 years ago.
“We will do everything that the puja demands, excepting for allowing devotees to attend physically to keep everybody safe. Almost 80% of our monks are over 60 years, 70% are over 80 and 10% over 90. We have to be extremely cautious,” said RKM general secretary Swami Suvirananda.
Kumari Puja, which is a special attraction at Belur Math, will happen too. Five days before the puja, all those who will be part of the process will be tested for Covid. After they test negative, they will be quarantined. According to norms, the puja will start with Bodhan on Panchami, there will be Kalparambha on Shashti followed by Amantran and Adhivas. The timings for the Sandhya Arati on Saptami, Kumari Puja on Ashtami and Sandhi Puja, the yajna on Navami and finally the Visharjan on Dashami have been provided in the YouTube link.
“We understand the emotions that are deeply entwined with Durga Puja at Belur Math and we don’t want our devotees to miss any bit of it. The telecasting arrangements should make everyone happy,” Swami Suvirananda added.