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Thanks to the pandemic, people in Kolkata will no longer have to stand in serpentine queues to get a darshan of Durga idols. They will be able to view them from their cars without having to worry about contracting COVID-19 in crowded spaces. Three major pujas in South Kolkata are joining hands for the event titled ‘Bhooter Raja Dilo Bor’ (that translates to 'The King of Ghosts has Given Boons', and comes from a song featured in Satyajit Ray’s Goopi Gyne Bagha Byne). The three pujas are Badamtala Ashar Sangha, 66 Palli and Kalighat Nepal Bhattacharjee Street Club.
The theme for the three pujas will be the Apu trilogy in honour of Ray whose birth centenary year began on May 2, 2020.
The idea of a drive-in darshan is the brainchild of Texas resident Mridul Pathak, a patron of Badamtala Ashar Sangha, whose non-profit organisation International Foundation for Sustainable Development (IFSD) is in charge of the event.
You will have to slow down your car when you enter the pandal, view the idols facing the lane, and drive on. All cars will be sanitised via a pipe shower when they enter each pandal. Visitors will not be allowed to go near the deities. A separate lane will be set up for pedestrians, with thermal checking and hand sanitisation in place, and norms of social distancing.
First in the drive-in route will be Badamtala with scenes from Pather Panchali, followed by 66 Palli with Aparajito, and concluding with Nepal Bhattacharjee which will portray Apur Sansar.
With cases of COVID-19 steadily rising in the city, other puja committees are probably going to come up with similar concepts for Durga Puja this year.
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