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Organisers set for low-key Durga Puja amid COVID fear

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Oct 21 - With all fanfare and festivities relegated to the backburner and health protocol taking precedence, COVID-19 rapid antigen tests of the priests and volunteers marked the occasion of Durga Puja Panchami in the State today.

Unlike in previous years, this time last minute preparations at puja pandals included arrangement of adequate masks, sanitizer and proper signage to ensure social and physical distancing.

The priests and others associated with organising public celebration of Durga Puja will have to undergo another mandatory rapid test for COVID-19 after the immersion of idols on Dashami.

Considering the strict government guidelines in view the COVID 19 situation, the puja committees are either bringing small idols, or have restricted themselves to the ritualistic ghat puja, where an earthen pot is symbolically revered instead of idols of the deities.

�Every year, we bring idol makers and artistes from Kolkata to prepare the idols of Goddess Durga and other deities. However, this time, it will be restricted to ghat puja,� Bijit Pradip Das, secretary of the Latasil Durga Puja Committee told The Assam Tribune.

Fifteen members of the Latasil puja committee went for mandatory COVID tests today at the COVID testing centre at Latasil LP School.

�This time puja is not even five per cent of what it used to be. Apart from huge footfall for pandal hopping, we used to have nearly 3,000 people every day to have the bhog. The fair, rides, festivities and the kids flaunting their balloons or blowing newly bought whistles, all would be missed this year,� added Das.

From a budget of Rs 30 lakh last year, the Bishnupur Sarbajanin Durga Puja Committee has restricted its budget to Rs 2 lakh this time. The puja venue that flaunted a majestic Ram Temple last year, will bring small idols of five feet height, said advisor to the Bishnupur Sarbajanin Durga Puja Committee Prashanta Bose.

Thirty-five members of the puja organising committee of Rest Camp Kalibari Durga Puja went for mandatory COVID-19 rapid antigen test today along with the priests designated to perform the rituals. �Instead of lighting or decorations, this time, our emphasis is on keeping the stock of masks and sanitizer ready so that even if someone comes to puja pandal without a mask, we can arrange it for him/her. With a sombre celebration this year, we hope and pray that the world gets rid of the pandemic and normalcy returns soon,� Tapas Naha, secretary of the committee mentioned.

Meanwhile, the Brihattar Kalakshetra Sarbajanin Durga Puja Committee will be celebrating the festival with a five-day programme at Jilika Path (opposite Kalakshetra) from October 22.

In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the committee said that it would be a low-key affair and Covid protocol would be strictly adhered to. �Maintaining social distancing, wearing of masks and use of hand sanitizer/hand washing will be mandatory. There will be distribution of prasad or khichdi and no puja offerings (sarai) will be accepted from the public,� the committee said.

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Organisers set for low-key Durga Puja amid COVID fear

GUWAHATI, Oct 21 - With all fanfare and festivities relegated to the backburner and health protocol taking precedence, COVID-19 rapid antigen tests of the priests and volunteers marked the occasion of Durga Puja Panchami in the State today.

Unlike in previous years, this time last minute preparations at puja pandals included arrangement of adequate masks, sanitizer and proper signage to ensure social and physical distancing.

The priests and others associated with organising public celebration of Durga Puja will have to undergo another mandatory rapid test for COVID-19 after the immersion of idols on Dashami.

Considering the strict government guidelines in view the COVID 19 situation, the puja committees are either bringing small idols, or have restricted themselves to the ritualistic ghat puja, where an earthen pot is symbolically revered instead of idols of the deities.

�Every year, we bring idol makers and artistes from Kolkata to prepare the idols of Goddess Durga and other deities. However, this time, it will be restricted to ghat puja,� Bijit Pradip Das, secretary of the Latasil Durga Puja Committee told The Assam Tribune.

Fifteen members of the Latasil puja committee went for mandatory COVID tests today at the COVID testing centre at Latasil LP School.

�This time puja is not even five per cent of what it used to be. Apart from huge footfall for pandal hopping, we used to have nearly 3,000 people every day to have the bhog. The fair, rides, festivities and the kids flaunting their balloons or blowing newly bought whistles, all would be missed this year,� added Das.

From a budget of Rs 30 lakh last year, the Bishnupur Sarbajanin Durga Puja Committee has restricted its budget to Rs 2 lakh this time. The puja venue that flaunted a majestic Ram Temple last year, will bring small idols of five feet height, said advisor to the Bishnupur Sarbajanin Durga Puja Committee Prashanta Bose.

Thirty-five members of the puja organising committee of Rest Camp Kalibari Durga Puja went for mandatory COVID-19 rapid antigen test today along with the priests designated to perform the rituals. �Instead of lighting or decorations, this time, our emphasis is on keeping the stock of masks and sanitizer ready so that even if someone comes to puja pandal without a mask, we can arrange it for him/her. With a sombre celebration this year, we hope and pray that the world gets rid of the pandemic and normalcy returns soon,� Tapas Naha, secretary of the committee mentioned.

Meanwhile, the Brihattar Kalakshetra Sarbajanin Durga Puja Committee will be celebrating the festival with a five-day programme at Jilika Path (opposite Kalakshetra) from October 22.

In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the committee said that it would be a low-key affair and Covid protocol would be strictly adhered to. �Maintaining social distancing, wearing of masks and use of hand sanitizer/hand washing will be mandatory. There will be distribution of prasad or khichdi and no puja offerings (sarai) will be accepted from the public,� the committee said.

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