The Ramleela Ground at Red Fort, the hub of Dussehra festivities attracting commoners as well as dignitaries, including the prime ministers and presidents every year, will be deserted this time.
"We had applied for booking the venue at Ramleela Maidan about three months back, but the permission has not yet been granted by the Archaeological Survey of India. It is impossible to celebrate Dussehra with burning of Ravana effigy on October 25 this year as there was no time for preparation due to COVID-19," Ravi Jain of Shri Dharmik Ramlila Committee said.
Some organisers, however, are trying their best to celebrate the day by cutting down on the scale of festivities as per the standard operating procedures for holding big gatherings amid the pandemic.
In east Delhi, the Dussehra festival held at CBD ground near Karkardooma attracts thousands, but this year the size of the crowd cannot be more than 200 as per the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) directions, organisers of the Shri Balaji Ramlila Committee said.
"We are prepared with small-sized effigies to be burnt on Dussehra. Arrangements have also been made to maintain social distancing. However, police permission is awaited after which the size of the gathering will be fixed," Satish Agarwal, patron of the Committee, said.
The DDMA had on October 11 issued guidelines for holding gatherings ahead of the festival, limiting the number to a maximum of 200 people and restrictions on setting up food stalls, swings, squatting among others at the venues.
In view of the threat of COVID-19 infection, difficulties in keeping the crowd size under 200 and enforcing social distancing, many Dussehra festival organisers here will also resort to using footage of previous years as well as audio-visual and light effects to recreate effigy burning and stream it online.
"We will use previous footage with light and sound effects this year as it will be very difficult to control the crowd and ensure social distancing in view of COVID-19," Ashok Goel of Sri Keshav Ramleela Committee in Model Town said.
Anil Sharma, president of RK Puram Ramleela Dharmik Samiti, said a short version of four-day-long Ramleela will be followed by a symbolic Ravana Dahan with use of sound and light effects.
"We can manage ensuring social distancing during the Ramleela, but cannot take the risk of holding Ravan Dahan like previous years in view of the threat of the infection," he said.
Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in Dussehra festivities in the city. He attended the Ravana Dahan’ organised at Dwarka''s Sector 10 by the Dwarka Sri Ramleela Committee.
"We are not holding Dussehra prigramme this year due to the capping of crowd size at 200. Even our members count more than that. It is sad as we are already getting calls for passes,” Rajesh Gahlot, chief patron of the Committee, said.
Rajesh Khanna of Sri Ramleela Committee said preparations for Ramleela and Dussehra begin three to four months in advance with booking the venue, seeking permission from authorities and making other arrangements.
It is not possible to wrap up months-long arrangements in a few days, considering the interventions like coronavirus-induced lockdown, delayed permissions and special measures to be taken in view of the pandemic threat, he added.
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Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI