Thursday, Jun 30, 2022

Kolkata Prepares To Get Vaccinated For Durga Puja!

Officials indicated that all of the rules established by the High Court for last year's Durga Pooja will be strictly followed, and that everyone involved in the ritual will obtain a minimum of the first vaccine dose.

Durga Pujas in Kolkata are grand, bright and colourful. Outlook/File Photo

The community Durga Puja committees in Kolkata will guarantee that all people involved in the rituals and other related chores are vaccinated within the next three months, an official stated on Wednesday.

The puja committees would also ensure that visitors to the pandals wear nose masks and keep social distance, Forum for Durgotsab official Partha Ghosh told PTI.

"From our members and locals frequenting the pandals to artisans, priests, dhakis, and electricians -- everyone will have to get COVID vaccines in the next three months," he said.

"We expect everyone to get both doses but for dhakis (traditional drummers) coming from villages two-three days before the puja, we will ensure they get at least one dose," Ghosh added.

Forum for Durgotsab, an umbrella organisation of 550 community Durga Pujas in Kolkata and neighbouring areas, also published guidelines to ensure that the festivities are held following COVID-safety protocols.

The pandals have to be built in such a way that devotees can see the idols from a distance and need not come near, as per the guidelines.

"For ''pushpanjali'', offering of cut fruits won't be allowed and physical distancing has to be maintained during the ritual," it said.

The guidelines, which will be submitted to the government, were similar to the ones set by the Calcutta High Court last year as it banned the entry of people to the pandals.

The puja committees are hoping that like last year no big turnout is witnessed amid the threat of the third wave of the pandemic, said Ghosh, who is also a member of the Shibmandir Durga Puja committee in south Kolkata.

"The challenge for every crowd-puller puja committee like ours will be how to strike a balance so that the pandals are built maintaining aesthetics while the idols can be seen from a distance," he said.

The Durga Puja committees in the city are also focussing on digital presence to ensure that people can view the artworks from home.

"We will project the idol and the decorations in such a way on social media that people may not feel the urge to come to the pandal," said Soumen Dutta, the secretary of the award-winning Kashi Bose Lane Durga Puja committee in north Kolkata.

"We will put a great emphasis on digital presence and project images with 3D effect to make it an enriching experience, even better than physical viewing," he said.

Several big-budget Durga Puja committees, including Sribhumi Sporting Club, Santoshpur Lake Pally, Hindustan Club, and Shib Mandir, held the ''Khuti Puja'' on Ratha Jatra.

The ritual of ''Khuti Puja'' or worshipping a pole marks the beginning of the building of pandals.

The festivities will begin this year on October 12 with Maha Saptami and go on till October 15 -- Bijaya Dashami.