‘Ban on carnival, cultural programmes…’: Bengal govt issues Covid-19 guidelines ahead of Durga Puja
The West Bengal government has decided to cancel the annual Durga Puja carnival for the second year in a row owing to the ongoing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, news agency PTI reported on Tuesday. The carnival involves the exhibition of the city’s top puja pandal themes before idol immersion. The decision comes with the Durga Puja being only days away.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee-led state government has also issued a set of Covid-19 guidelines that all puja committees need to mandatorily follow in order to manage the influx of people during the six-day festival.
The state government has also banned all forms of cultural programmes near the marquees in view of the coronavirus crisis.
Meanwhile, Kolkata Metro has also changed its timings of train operations for three days of the Durga Puja festival – October 12, 13 and 14 — news agency ANI reported. “First trains leave from terminal stations at 10am and last trains at 11pm,” ANI reported, citing Kolkata Metro.
The Calcutta high court has banned entry of visitors to puja pandals this year as well. The state government has declared relaxation in the ongoing night curfew by permitting movement between 11pm and 5am during the puja days. However, other existing restrictions pertaining to Covid-19 have been extended till October 30.
The Centre has asked all states and Union territories to make sure that adherence to Covid-19 guidelines is maintained during the forthcoming festive season, without any laxity shown in enforcing rules to contain the virus spread.
West Bengal on Tuesday reported 619 fresh Covid-19 cases, taking the cumulative tally of the state to 15,72,460, according to the state government bulletin data. Of the recorded single-day cases, Kolkata accounted for 126, followed by North 24 Parganas at 115, and South 24 Parganas at 59. As many as 637 new recoveries were logged, which took the total number of recovered patients to 15,46,037. With 11 new fatalities, the death toll of West Bengal stands at 18,848, the bulletin data revealed.
Here are the Covid-19 guidelines issued by West Bengal government:
1. Puja committees have been asked to make sure that all pandals are kept open on all sides, thereby allowing ample space to arrange for social distancing when people come for pandal hopping and idol viewing on premises.
2. All pandals must have separate entry and exit gates. There should also be floor markings and other signages in order to ensure physical distancing is maintained among people.
3. The Bengal government has asked the puja committees to encourage people to “offer anjali (prayer) with flowers brough from homes” instead of taking from the pandal to avoid congestion inside the venue.
4. Puja committees have also been directed to ensure that distribution of prasad, and sindoor khela (celebration by smearing faces with vermillion on the last day of Durga Puja festival) is organised in smaller groups and in a planned manner.
5. The state government order has stressed on keeping inaugurations of pandals, award-distribution programmes, and other celebrations, “low key.” “Ideally all visits for judging pandals should be virtual, and physical visits should be made during the lean hours, between 10am and 3pm,” the order read, according to PTI.
6. The government order has also directed puja organisers to make arrangements in advance to facilitate idol viewing from Tritiya – which is on Friday.