Durga Puja set to be low key in Uttar Pradesh, guidelines awaited
Majority of Durga puja committees across the state of Uttar Pradesh are in a fix about how to celebrate the festival this year in absence of specific directions from the government.
Although the state government on Thursday said people should celebrate festivals at their homes as no public gatherings would be allowed, Durga puja committees said they could take a final call only after the government issued clear guidelines pertaining to Durga puja.
Many Durga puja committees said they were writing to the district administration to issue guidelines for Durga puja festivities, beginning from October 22 and concluding on October 26 this year.
“The government should clarify how Durga Puja rituals will be carried out this year,” said Arun Banerjee, the president of over 105-year-old Bengali Club in Lucknow.
Meanwhile, a number of Durga puja committees in Lucknow have decided to go for ‘ghot puja’ (worshipping an urn symbolising the goddess) without any idols of goddess Durga. Also, there will neither be any distribution of ‘prasad bhog’ nor conduct of cultural programmes to avoid mass gathering.
“We are waiting for proper guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) from the district administration. However, we have decided that there will be no distribution of ‘bhog’. Nobody will be allowed to get into the Durga mandap. Rituals like Pushpanjali will be held but without flowers,” Banerjee said.
“Maybe by the month end, we are expecting detailed ‘Unlock 5’ guidelines, following which, we will take a final decision on how to go about conducting Durga puja, which is less than a month away,” he added.
Lucknow district magistrate Abhishek Prakash said the matter of SOPs pertaining to Durga puja will be looked into. “We will discuss the matter with police too,” he said.
Bondhu Mahal Durga puja committee in Lucknow has decided to organise a low-key puja because of the prevailing pandemic.
“We have decided to go for ‘ghot puja’ sans any idol of Maa Durga. There would not be any general bhog and cultural programmes to avoid mass gathering. But we will take a call about Pushpanjali once the guidelines are issued,” said Manoj Bhadra, president, Bondhu Mahal Durga puja committee.
Sahara Estate, Jankipuram, is also not organising puja at the park.
“There will be no pandal. Just a simple ritual will be held in a covered area,” said Saurav Bandhopadhyay of the puja committee.
Sudip Sanyal of La Touche Road Durga puja committee said there will be no pandal, no illumination and no distribution of bhog. “We have ordered a small idol for the rituals,” he said.
However, Ramakrishna Math, which has been organising ‘Durga Puja’ for nearly 40 years now, is going ahead with the rituals.
“We will follow all Covid-19 curb guidelines, including social distancing and limited gathering,” said Swami Muktinathananda, president of the math.