With less than three weeks to go for Bengal’s biggest festival, Kolkata is witnessing a sudden rush among its citizens to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19. While Puja organisers and housing societies have decided to allow only those with both doses and vaccine certificates to become a part of their festivities, priests, dhakis and even outbound travellers are making a beeline for the much-awaited vaccines. While most Pujas have scaled down their plans in view of the pandemic, they are keeping the stakeholders ready to take part in the festivities by getting them fully vaccinated so as to avoid any reasons to worry.Organisers, societies vigilant
Though it was widely anticipated that Puja festivities will be restricted and carried out on a small scale for the second year in a row, organisers are preparing for all eventualities by making sure all the stakeholders are fully vaccinated. Debroop Chatterjee from Behala Nutan Sangha said that all the members of their Puja have got both their doses and are all set to tackle any kind of situation that may arise. Similarly, Saptarshi Basu, organising secretary of Ballygunge Cultural Association, is confident that the vaccination process of those involved in their Puja will be completed soon. “Almost all our senior members and volunteers are fully vaccinated. The younger members will get their second jabs by this week. Forum for Durgotsab, a mother body for all Durga Puja committees, is organising free vaccination camps for them,” said Saptarshi.Housing societies across the city are also making all efforts to get more and more people vaccinated before the big five days. Sourav Roy, co-convenor at the Puja committee of a luxurious complex off EM Bypass, said they organised several vaccination camps in the last few weeks to ensure that the vendors, committee members and all other participants are done with both their doses. “People below 18 years are not allowed to take part in any cultural or Puja related work as they can’t be vaccinated. Otherwise, everyone else associated with the puja are going to get their second jabs well in time,” he added.Another residential complex in the Haltu area has already organised several vaccination camps to ensure that members and vendors associated with Durga Puja are fully vaccinated.
Dhakis, priests get their jabs
Compared to last year, dhakis are getting more jobs this Puja. Gokul Das, a celebrated dhaki and founder of a female dhaki group, has got offers to play at three Pujas and he is talking to several more. “All the members in my troupe have received the first dose and some have even got the second one. The rest will complete their vaccination process before the festival because several Puja committees are asking for vaccine certificates,” he said.Similarly, priests have also got themselves fully vaccinated to stay safe and competent during what seems to be the biggest event of the year for them. Nandini Bhowmik, one of the four female priests involved with the 66 Palli Puja, said, “While doing the Puja, we will be exposed to a lot of people, so vaccination is of utmost importance to us. All four of us have got our second doses.”
Puja organisers are being equally vigilant about letting only fully vaccinated people become a part of their events. Swati Mukherjee, secretary, Joypur Pally Sarbojonin Durgotsav, said “A lot of senior citizens are part of our Puja and all of them got vaccinated much earlier. From workers making the pandal to the electricians – we are only appointing people who have received both the doses and submitting vaccine certificates is a must for everyone before coming on board.”
Vaccine must for wanderlust
Puja is the time when a lot of people from the city make travel plans. While some like to avoid the festive crowd, others find this a great way to make the most of their Puja holiday. IT professional Debdoot Pal, who is planning to visit Himachal this Puja, got the second dose for himself and his wife even before booking the flight tickets. “Though I am not sure about the current COVID rules and regulations in other states, I know getting both the doses is a must. Nobody wants to go through the pain of getting tested during a vacation,” he told us.
Tolly stars join the queue
Also queuing up to get their second dose are Tollywood stars, either for work or leisure plans. Yash recently got his first jab right before starting the shoot for a film and is eager to get the second dose. “In October, I need to travel abroad for a shoot and a double dose of vaccination is mandatory for that. So, I’m hoping to get done with that at the earliest,” said the actor. Meanwhile actress Sayantani Guhathakurta, who is planning to travel to Goa just after Puja, received her second jab last week.
Source: Times of India