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Surojit Ghosh Hazra, Hindustan Times
Bolpur, October 11, 2012
Indian custom will give way to presidential protocol during the Durga Puja celebrations at Pranab Mukherjee’s ancestral home in West Bengal as no one will be allowed to touch his feet. This has been conveyed to members of the Mukherjee family in Mirati village of Birbhum district.

“No one can touch feet of the President as it is forbidden by protocol. So pranaam may not be allowed,” Pradyut Guha, additional private secretary to the President, told mediapersons while visiting the district to prepare for his arrival.

Mukherjee belongs to a traditional Bengali Brahmin family and he does not fail to turn up at the village every year during the pujas to perform the worship himself. This will be his first visit after he became the 13th President of the country on July 25.

In the Mukherjee family, apart from elder sister Annapurna Mukherjee and elder brother Pijush Mukherjee, everyone is younger than the President. “Every year when he comes, he touches my feet,” Pijush Mukherjee told HT on Thursday.

Apart from relatives, a large number of leaders, including MLAs and MPs, visit Mirati village to meet Mukherjee. All of them greet him by touching his feet.

“It is a tradition we all follow. It will be unfortunate if it is not allowed this time,” said Tapan Saha, a senior Congress leader close to the Mukherjees.

The district president of the Congress, Sayed Siraj Jimmi, confirmed the protocol. “We always offer our pranaam to him before a talk. Recently, during his Kolkata visit we went to meet him at Raj Bhavan and just as I bent down to touch his feet, the security men stopped me from doing so. Even Pranabda spotted my discomfiture and smiled,” said Jimmi.