Delhi: Durga Puja organisers told to manage idol immersion
Durga Puja organisers in the city will have to make adequate arrangements to immerse idols at or near the venues, and the government will not make provisions such as artificial ponds unlike previous years, said senior officials in the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA).
The Yamuna river remains out of bounds for idol immersion under guidelines issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). As a result, in 2019 and 2020, the Delhi government put in place artificial ponds across the city for Durga Puja organisers to immerse their idols — around 30 in 2018 and 105 in 2019. The DDMA disallowed Durga Puja celebrations in 2020, over Covid-19 fears.
Under the current protocol, all organisers have to seek permission from offices of the sub-divisional officers concerned, following which an assessment of the venue and arrangements is done.
“The arrangements have to be somewhere very close, because idol immersion otherwise leads to rallies and processions, which are not allowed this year in the light of the Covid-19 threat,” said a senior DDMA official on Sunday.
In usual years, Delhi witnesses around 500-600 Durga Puja pandals. The number, this year, has dropped to around 300, said a senior official in the government’s revenue department.
DDMA last week allowed Durga Puja celebrations this year, but with several riders — organisers will have to ensure venues do not have visitors beyond the seating capacity, and there can be no stalls of any kind.
Organisers are reeling from immense fund shortfalls borne out of the pandemic, and have struggled to find sponsorships, forcing several to dip into their reserves. However, DDMA’s idol immersion norms are likely to have little impact, several puja committees said, because of the low-key nature of festivities this year.
Swapan Ganguly, convener of the Kalibari temple in New Delhi’s Mandir Marg, which organises one of the most prominent Durga Puja celebrations in the city, said: “We have arrangements to immerse the idol inside the temple premises itself. All steps necessary will be taken to ensure that Covid-19 protocols are followed.”
Several prominent organisers in the city have decided to go low-key with no idols at all this year.
“In our case, immersion will not be a problem because we will not have a large idol this year. We did not get adequate time to make arrangements. We will follow all rituals with a kalash (earthen urn),” said Robin Bose, general secretary of the Durga Puja committee in Kashmere Gate.
The Durga Puja in CR Park’s D Block have will have a decorated pandal and idol.
“We have created a pond in the neighbourhood, and will immerse idols there. There will be no rally or procession,” said Sujoy Ghosh, secretary of the block’s Durga Puja committee.
“DDMA allowed festivals very late this year. As a result, there was not much time for idol and other arrangements. But organisers who plan to have idols have been clearly told to have arrangements in place for immersion. The protocols are understandable in light of the pandemic,” said Narayan Dey, secretary of the Mela Ground Durga Puja in CR Park.
Durga Puja this year will be celebrated between October 11 and 15. DDMA has allowed organisers to set up pandal and celebrate on public spaces, but it has prohibited processions, rallies, and shops, eateries, exhibitions and fairs in and around the venues.