Food packets sent to residents’ homes, cultural programmes in empty community halls in front of a camera, just a handful of chairs at Puja mandaps and curbs on entry of outsiders — housing societies across Kolkata are planning a slew of measures to the Puja days safe.
For members and residents of housing societies, the weekends leading up to the Puja that were usually reserved for planning how to make their festivities grand are now devoted to fixing the rules to prevent crowding and maintaining the pandemic protocol while keeping the festive spirit alive.
“This year we are trying to keep the festivities as low key as possible as there is some report of Covid infection in our complex every day. At present, 16 people are still infected and we cannot risk making grand plans for the Puja in such a scenario,” said Debjani Mukherjee, director, Urbana Facility Maintenance and senior VP of Bengal NRI Complex Ltd Urbana, which usually has air-conditioned pandals, will have a smaller and open-air structure this year, she said.
At South City, community lunch and dinners have been scrapped and only a handful of chairs will be kept at the pandals to ensure only a limited number of residents can sit around the area at a time.
“We will allow people time slots and engage queue managers at the time of bhog distribution. But at other times, there will be volunteers and guards to ensure people don’t crowd around the pandal,” said Manak Daga, president of South City Welfare Association.
Cultural performances on Puja nights are also going to see some change this year. Almost all housing societies will either scrap them or take the virtual route. Upohar condominium will screen the programmes on a giant LED screen set up near the pandal. The performances will be recorded and shown online at the same time. “Many of our flats have balconies overlooking the greens and residents will be able to watch the screen from there. Flats without balconies on this side will be able to watch the show on their smart gadgets on social media,” said Sudeep Ganguly, spokesperson of the Puja committee.