This year is quite different from the others and so will be the Durga Puja celebrations. Earlier, the West Bengal government had issued guidelines for pandal hopping, allowing visitors to enter the pandals. But now, reviewing the current situation, the Calcutta High Court has come to the decision of banning entry of outsiders in the puja pandals. Also, only 15-20 people of the puja committee will be able to enter the pandals. A list of names of all those who can enter the pandals has to be issued by the puja committees. The pandals will have ‘no entry zones’ in every 10 to 15 metres. Read on to know the details.
Durga Puja Pandals In Kolkata Ban Outsiders; ‘No Entry’ Zones In Every 5-10 Metres
In the wake of COVID-19, the Calcutta High Court has banned the entry of outsiders inside the Durga Puja pandals this year. There will be a cap on the number of people entering the pandals within the puja committee as well. Pandal authorities should put up a list, mentioning the names of all those who are allowed to enter the pandals. Only 15-20 people can be permitted. For bigger pandals, there will be ‘no entry zones’ in every 10 metres. For smaller pandals, such zones must be kept in every 5 metres. The local police stations will supervise the pandal premises, ensuring that the rules are being followed.
Many people had rushed to popular market places in Kolkata like New Market and Gariahat for Durga Puja shopping. The crowds were thick and there was no social distancing. The pictures had surfaced over the internet and they have angered the netizens. Even the doctors warned that allowing pandal hopping this year could result in an alarming rise in the number of virus cases in the city.
A Virtual Durga Puja: Pandals Are Going Online This Year
Around 50 big puja committees in Kolkata has already planned to go online to give a glimpse of their pandals and pratima to the city people. Virtual Durga puja is going to become the ‘new normal’ this year. The streamings will take place through various channels and social media platforms. Some pandals have also tied up with tech firms to give a 360-degree live view of their pandals. As per reports, Arpan Chatterjee had launched the www.thepuja.app to render a virtual reality ( VR) experience of the pandals from the comfort of homes. Popular puja pandals that will go online this year are Naktala Udayan Sangha, Suruchi Sangha, Jodhpur Park 95 Pally, Ballygunge Cultural, Beliaghata 33 No Pallybasi Brindo, Kashi Bose Lane and more.
SOPs For Durga Puja In Kolkata
The few people who will remain within the pandals need to be aware of the following guidelines:
- Visitors without masks won’t be allowed to enter the pandals.
- Pandals must be spacious and should remain open from all sides. If the ceiling is closed, the sides have to be open. If the sides are blocked, the ceiling has to be kept open.
- Visitors need to maintain adequate social distancing among themselves.
- Organisers will have to make arrangements for distributing masks in areas around the pandals.
- Pandal authorities must also provide hand sanitizer to every visitor.
- No cultural programmes can take place around the pandal premises.
South Kolkata’s 95 Pally Jodhpur Park To Introduce A Moving Pandal This Durga Puja
95 Pally Jodhpur Park, the name of this South Kolkata puja committee is enough to excite a true pandal hopper. It makes breathtaking theme-based pandals every year that attract visitors from all over West Bengal and India. People stand for hours in the queue to explore the splendid mandap, along with the beautiful idol of Durga Ma. But this year, with social distancing in place, most people would not find it safe to visit the pandals. Therefore, the puja committee is planning to bring the pandal home.
The South Kolkata committee is mulling over creating a mini pandal with all the decorations or a tableau with a miniature idol and carry it around the nearby areas. They might also make arrangments to collect pushpanjali from the devotees.
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Drive-In Darshan To Take Place Across 3 Pandals
Three other Durga Puja committees, Badamtala Ashar Sangha, 66 Palli and Kalighat Nepal Bhattacharjee Street Club have joined hands to introduce drive-in darshan of their pandals with the central theme of Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy. The first pandal in the driving route will be Badamtala Ashar Sangha which will reflect scenes from Pather Panchali ( The Song of the Road) depicting Apu’s boyhood days. This will be followed by 66 Pally which will focus on Aparajito ( The Unvanquished). Nepal Bhattacharya Street Pujo will portray scenes from Apur Sansar ( The World of Apu). The name of the theme is, however, “Bhooter Raja Dilo Bor” which is a popular song from another masterpiece of Ray, Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne. For the drive-in darshan, people will be able to catch the glimpses of the pandals without getting out of their cars.
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Also, every year Mahalaya falls seven days before Sasti, the time when the actual celebration starts. This year, Malahaya was on September 17. But puja is starting 35-days later on October 22 and will continue till 26th. This unusual gap between Mahalaya and Sasti was also seen in 2001 and 1982. The pandemic has left many city people heartbroken before the Durga puja celebration. But then safety always comes first. Meanwhile, here are three steps to get the perfect Bengali look this Durga Puja: