AGARTALA, June 28 - The week-long tradition Kharchi festival began at Khayerpur in West Tripura district this morning amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Kharchi Puja is one of the most important festivals of Tripura during which 14 deities are worshipped.
This year, the formal inauguration programme was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Raj Chantai (head priest) opened the Chaturdash Devata temple after a ceremonial procession and offered prayers marking the beginning of the puja.
Although the temple was well-illuminated for the festival, there was no congregation of devotees, which was unprecedented.
Additional security forces have been deployed in and around the temple to strictly enforce the COVID-19 guidelines like social distancing and wearing of masks.
Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb greeted the people on the auspicious occasion.
�This year the puja will be performed in the most restricted way due to COVID-19 pandemic. I pray to Chaturdash Devata (fourteen deities) to give us strength to overcome the pandemic,� he said in a Facebook post.
MLA Ratan Chakraborty said this time only the rituals will be performed and devotees will not be allowed to offer prayers at the temple.
�Offering bhog and animal sacrifice will also not be allowed. Only a group of 10 devotees are allowed to offer prayers at the temple during the festival. This time mela committee has also not been constituted and not a single stall has been set up,� he said.
�We urge the people to offer prayers to Chaturdash Devata from their respective homes. If the situation improves, there will be a mega event next year,� he said.