Saturday, April 1

Puja in Covid times: A simple affair to keep virus at bay in Kolkata

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Several big ticket Durga Pujas in the city have already started chalking out their plans for the festival this year which will be celebrated with several restrictions in the wake of the spread of the novel coronavirus this year.

Last week, the government indicated that the biggest festival in the state will be celebrated this year, but the organisers will have to follow several guidelines to prevent the pandals from getting crowded.

Bhowanipore 75 Palli in its 56th year will be curtailing the budget by almost 70%. “It is going to be a simple affair for us this year,” said Subir Das, general secretary. “We will also be following all the safety guidelines proposed by the government. A final plan will be chalked out after an online meeting with our members on Sunday.”

At the iconic Mohammad Ali Park puja, too, the royal touch will be missing. “Last year we organised the Puja in the fire station adjacent to Mohammad Ali Park due to a reservoir collapse. This year due to the pandemic our Puja will be very low key. We have already applied for permission,” said Ashok Ojha, joint secretary of Puja committee.

Subrata Mukherjee, a senior politician and chief patron of Ekdalia Evergreen, popular for its simple theme and old-world charm said almost all the Durga Pujas will be simple this year. “In the past few years the festival had grown a lot both in stature and appeal. But due to the pandemic even we at Ekdalia Evergreen will be keeping it simple so that people do get the festive feel, but it does not help in transmission of the virus,” said a member at the Ekdalia Evergreen Puja Committee.

Activities have picked up in Kumartuli, the abode of idol makers in north Kolkata. Several smaller community Puja organisers and those in residential complexes have already placed their orders in the past one week after the state government indicated the festival will be celebrated with several restrictions.

“I can only say it’s the blessings of Durga herself that we are able to do some work this year. It’s not only about livelihood but also about tradition. Till the beginning of this month we had reconciled to the fact that there won’t be any Durga Puja this year due to the pandemic,” said Gouranga Pal, an idol maker at Kumartuli.

Several residential complexes and blocks in New Town have decided to just stick to the basics this year. “We are organising Durga Puja because we do not want to break the tradition, but people are really scared of the rapid spread of Covid-19. We do not know what the situation would be like in October,” said Kaushik Sengupta, a resident of CB Block in Action Area 1of New Town.

Source: Times of India

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