Durga Puja in the time of Covid-19
In the past few months, with the Covid-19 scare, the fact that public gatherings of any nature would be dangerous became quite clear. However, it is commendable that with the festive season approaching, devotees, instead of being disappointed have come up with new ideas and noble causes to celebrate festivals. This remains true for Durga Puja as well. As it was with Ganesh Chaturthi, many have come together and decided to help those in need as we go through this distressing period.
In Mumbai, too, the Bombay Durgabari Samiti has decided to tone down celebrations. Susmita Mitra, president of the women-led organisation says that “arrangements have been made to webcast the Puja this year”. Mitra adds that the organisation, that dates back to 1930s, will follow every norm set by the BMC. “Instead of the idol, we have opted for Ghat Puja, observing appropriate rituals. Also, have chosen a smaller venue, which is Sangam Hall in Marine Drive. All the BMC norms of social distancing will be observed,” she says.
The same will be true for North Bombay Sarbojanin Durga Puja Samiti. The members, this year, have decided to take their puja to the people through live streaming. “We organise the festival for hundreds and thousands of devotees across India every year, however the celebration will be virtual this time. We are happy to reach millions of people through our virtual celebration. We have set certain rules which are mandatory for every member who will visit the pandal to follow,” says Deb Mukherjee.
For devotees, too, this year will be a bit disappointing. Krishna Kumar, a 24-year-old student, who always makes it a point to visit the pandals, says, “Although, it is sad that there will be no gatherings, it is great to see people using the funds and resources to help those affected by the lockdown.” The feeling is mutual for Sreeyash Suresh, a 30-year-old IT professional. “I think online pujas are a great initiative. Many senior citizens will be able to attend it with their families,” he says.
Moreover, Jayati Dasgupta, the chairman of the organisation adds that the charitable endeavours that run all through the year, have continued. She says among many other initiatives, “the Samiti actively undertakes various charitable initiatives throughout the year including granting scholarships to underprivileged and deserving students, bhog is distributed to a large number of underprivileged and less fortunate persons.” However, there will be no bhog distribution this year “keeping in mind government regulations and the safety of our devotees in mind,” adds Dasgupta.
(Corrigendum: Please note the print version that appeared on October 19 mentions ‘bhog will be distributed this year’. However, this is an error and not true. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, Bombay Durgabari Samiti wants to make sure that everyone remains safe.)
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