Durga Puja 2021: ‘Don’t want third wave, so keeping puja small, safe’
New Delhi The stage is set for Durga Puja, and the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has given a nod to celebrations this year. But, the Puja committees have decided to keep it a simple affair. Some committees say that there was paucity of time — as permissions came in late — for large scale preparations, and most confirm that they are purposely trying to keep the festivities within Covid-19 compliant behaviour, since the fear of a third wave remains.
Conscious decision to be cautious
Though Durga Puja holds immense importance for Bengalis, they are choosing to forego grand celebrations, for the greater good. “Our celebrations used to be so big that there’d be traffic jams,” says Prodip Ganguly, secretary, Kali Mandir Society (KMS), Chittaranjan Park. But this year, they will go hybrid in their celebrations, with “devotees allowed in batches of 50 only, for darshan of about five minutes and within barricades”. “We’ll have only the idol of Maa Durga. No bhog or pushpanjali will be allowed inside,” says Anita Halder, convener, KMS, adding, “There will be no sindoor khela, and the idol immersion will be done in an in-house tub.”
Submit vaccination proof in advance
At Arambagh Durga Puja, near Jhandewalan, the puja samiti is inviting devotees to their social media channels for live streaming of Pujo. “Entry in the pandal is only for organisers and their family, who have submitted vaccination certificates in advance. Even hired staff are fully vaccinated,” shares Abhijit K Bose, chairman of the committee. And committee’s president, SK Chakraborty adds, “Hum koi risk nahin le rahe.”
‘People are more tech savvy now’
Besides facilitating virtual streaming of celebrations, most committees are facilitating home delivery of bhog with advance booking to avoid contact. “People are more tech savvy now. So we have online pre-booking of bhog, and pushpanjali in sync with the live streaming of mandir purohit chanting mantras,” informs Halder.
Suvendu Bagchi, from CR Park B-Block Puja, which is organising a symbolic ghot (Kalash) puja on Mahashtami (October 13), says, “Only 50 people will be allowed in at a time. There’s no pandal hopping this time. We have to be responsible to hold back any possibility of a third wave.”
While E-Block mela ground and Milan Samity committee in CR Park are organising one day puja with no devotees allowed, Sarbojanin Puja Samiti, D Block, CR Park, will have the celebrations on small scale and restricted entry in small batches. “The puja set-up is small because we didn’t have time,” says Soumili Sen, from D Block committee. And Sujoy Ghosh, general secretary, Sarbojanin Puja Samiti, adds that as it’s their silver jubilee, “An online anjali will be scheduled and we’ll have a two-feet idol that can be dissolved easily.”
“We are holding the Puja in a park, but the tent is not even half of what we used to put up before Covid-19. All of us have to be responsible to hold back any possibility of a third wave,” adds, Suvendu Bagchi, From CR Park B-Block Puja
Author tweets @siddhijainn