West Bengal: Idol immersion in River Ichamati to be a low-key affair this year
The North 24 Parganas district, where the annual event is organised, has recorded around 71,000 Covid-19 cases to dateUpdated: Oct 26, 2020, 12:20 IST
The idol immersion in the Ichamati river, located around 70 kilometres (km) east of Kolkata in the adjoining North 24 Parganas district, which used to attract thousands of revellers from both India and neighbouring Bangladesh every year, will be a muted affair this year because of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
A local puja committee is only the one that will keep up with the tradition in the river, which forms a natural boundary between the two countries.
The public from both India and Bangladesh used to gather on opposite banks of the river every year on the day of Bijoya Dashami, when dozens of idols would be immersed.
“This year, there is no demand for immersion in the river because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year, around a dozen idols were immersed in the middle of the river. We have received an application from a single puja committee,” said Somnath Mukherjee, chairman, Taki Municipality, North 24 Parganas.
The members of the Durga puja committee in Taki, a small municipal town in North 24 Parganas in south Bengal, will load the idols on country boats and take them to the middle of the river for immersion on the lines of their counterparts at Satkhira in Bangladesh.
Satkhira is located on the other bank of the river.
The Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) personnel will patrol the river on speed boats and create a virtual line of control with the help of ropes in a bid to prevent infiltration from either country.
Mukherjee said that out of the 44 pujas organised at Taki around a dozen would immerse in the river every year.
“A few hundred boats, carrying thousands of visitors, would take to the river to watch the immersion of idols every year. However, this year, 50-odd visitors’ boats have requested permission. Each boat, depending on its size, will be allowed a maximum of 15 and 20 people, respectively,” said a police official.
The North 24 Parganas district, where the annual event is organised, has recorded around 71,000 Covid-19 cases to date and is second to Kolkata as far as the viral outbreak is concerned.
Kolkata tops the viral infection chart in Bengal with 76,000 Covid-19 cases.
North 24 Parganas district and Kolkata have been reporting over 900 Covid-19 cases daily in the past few days amid growing panic about the contagion among the public.
“Restrictions have been enforced regarding a cap on the number of visitors, who will be allowed to take a ride on a boat. Precautionary measures such as face masks and hand sanitisers have been made mandatory. Barricades have also been put up in a bid to maintain social distancing among the revellers. A fair, which used to be organised on the sidelines of the immersion, has been cancelled this year,” said an official of the North 24 Parganas district administration.
The Indo-Bangladesh border in West Bengal is the longest international border in any state across the country. Out of the 4096.7 km border, Bengal shares 2,216 km with the neighbouring country.
In south Bengal, the border is over 900 km, of which around 60% is riverine, including the Sunderbans delta.