Ram Lila, Durga Puja to pale under Covid shadow
As the coronavirus disease pandemic continues to cast its shadow over the country, the festival season in October in Ghaziabad is likely to be curtailed.
Durga Puja samitis say they are going to restrict access to the pandals, and Ramlila samitis have almost dropped plans for a grand Ramlila Manchan, Ravan Dahan and the Mela .
The city has about 12-15 different Durga Puja samitis that celebrate the festivities in grand style each year and people from all walks of like become part of festivities.
“Usually, thousands of people arrived each day to witness the celebrations. But with the pandemic and other restrictions, it will be difficult to manage a huge gathering. So far, we have planned that the puja will be held in morning at the pandal, and only the members will join. Unlike the traditional way when people gathered in pandal to have food, this year we will send them food packets,” said Abhijit Roy, founder member of Prantic Cultural Society, Indirapuram.
Cultural programmes, which used to includes artistes from different cities, will be an in-house event and will be aired online.
“This year we have also curtailed our budget and have also written to the UP officials, suggesting some protocols which can be followed for Durga Puja celebrations. We are hopeful that the government will soon issue some guidelines,” Roy said.
Bongotoru, another Durga Puja organisation which holds celebrations in Shipra Sun City, Indirapuram, will also restrict entry to pandals.
“We have adopted the token system that will help us restrict entry to a maximum of 100 people to the pandal. We are also scaling down our celebrations by almost 80%,” said Surajit Dey Purkayastha, vice president of Bongotoru. “Unlike the previous years when we had cultural activities under the Pandal, this year the activities will be pre-recorded or streamed online. At the pandal we will follow all the health protocols and have also planned Covid testing camp.”
“As of now, the Ramlila is not happening this year. This is happening for the first time in our 40 years of Ramlila Manchan,” said Lalid Jaiswal, president of Shri Dharmik Ramlila Samiti, Kavi Nagar. “There will no Ramliala Manchan, no Ravan Dahan. Normally, we start with preparations about two months prior to Ramlila. But no such preparation is taken up this year. Even if the government relaxes guidelines, we will not be able to arrange for vendors, artistes, craftsmen.”
The Kavi Nagar Ramlila during past several years had been staging ‘digital Ramlila’ which has become famous across the city.
“However, we have asked the artistes to prepare three hours of Ramlila which we can play at an auditorium in case the conditions are relaxed. In such a case, the three hours of Ramlila will be staged for 10 days,” said Jaiswal.
The oldest Ramlila organised by the Sullamal Ramlila Samiti at Ghanta Ghar is stated to be around 100 years old Ramlila in the city.
“We will not be having the Ramlila Manchan, Ravan Dahan and the Mela this year. We have also not engaged artistes or craftsmen this year. Still, we are waiting for the guidelines from the UP government and will see what we can do,” said Virendra Kumar who is the president of the samiti.
District magistrate Ajay Shankar Pandey said that soon there is a video-conferencing which will be taken up by UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
“So far, the restrictions are continuing and no large gatherings are allowed. Further, there is lot of stress on Covid protocols in order to curb Covid-19 infection. It is expected that the Durga Puja and Ramlila celebrations will be largely curtailed. We expect that some guidelines will be issued in coming time. Although the festivities also boost local economy and provide gainful employment opportunities to artistes, craftsmen and others, but the situation this year is different due to the pandemic,” he said.