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Home / India News / With Durga Puja a month away, Bengal govt gears up for festive season amid pandemic

With Durga Puja a month away, Bengal govt gears up for festive season amid pandemic

The state government would hold a meeting with prominent puja organisers on September 25 to finalise the crowd management plans and other aspects of the festival.

india Updated: Sep 16, 2020 22:45 IST
HT Correspondent | Edited by Sparshita Saxena
HT Correspondent | Edited by Sparshita Saxena
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
File photo: A priest offers prayers on the first day of Durga Puja in Amritsar.
File photo: A priest offers prayers on the first day of Durga Puja in Amritsar. (Sameer Sehgal/Hindustan Times)

With the festive season starting from Thursday and just around a month left for the Durga Puja, the Mamata Banerjee administration has started its preparations on how to organise the festival and the puja during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The state government has asked the police commissioners and superintendents of police of the districts to gather information about the pujas that are held in their respective areas. The local police stations would be asked to collect information about the pujas that would be held this year.

“Even though such information is collected every year for crowd management, this year information would be gathered on how they plan to sanitise the pandals and maintain social distancing among visitors. Special stress would be given on crowd management this year,” said a senior government official.

Also read: Union minister Nitin Gadkari tests positive for Covid-19, attended Day 1 of Parliament monsoon session

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had said that the government would urge puja organisers to keep the pandals as much airy and open as possible to maintain free flow of air. This would stop the virus from spreading. The suggestion had come from the global advisory body set up by the government with Nobel laureate Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee.

The state government would hold a meeting with prominent puja organisers on September 25 to finalise the crowd management plans and other aspects of the festival this year. The festive season starts from Thursday with the Viswakarma Puja and Mahalaya.

“We have already come up with an informal list of dos and don’ts for the members to follow. That needs to be finalized. We would soon hold a meeting with the government. The puja would be held this year but the festivities and the grandeur would be scaled down,” said Saswata Bau, general secretary of the Forum for Durgotsab.

Out of the 4500-odd community pujas held in Kolkata alone, the forum has more than 370 of the most prominent and biggest pujas under its banner, including the ones that are patronised by some senior ministers in Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet. More than one lakh pujas are held across the state. This is the biggest festival in West Bengal.

The forum had come up with a set of guidelines in July. The list of Dos and Don’ts includes reducing the size of pandals and idols so that they could be sanitized, restricting the number of pandal hoppers to 25 at a time, less decorative lighting to discourage crowding at night and allowing food stalls in pandal premises sans any seating arrangements, among others measures.

“The 17-point code prepared by the forum also calls for offering only whole fruits to the goddess, less of interior decoration and airy pandals which can be seen from outside, thermal guns and sanitizers to be provided at pandals. No visitors would be allowed without wearing a face mask,” said Partha Ghosh, a member of the forum’s executive committee.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee was apparently keen on organizing the festival this year despite the pandemic. “Durga Puja is coming. We have to organize it. For that we have to stay fit from now,” she had said in July while addressing local clubs.

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