West Bengal Issues New Guidelines For Durga Puja: What Is Different This Year?
Ahead of the Durga Puja celebrations, the state has issued guidelines for puja committees to follow.
The West Bengal government has issued new guidelines in view of the Durga Puja celebrations that officially kicked off on Wednesday, 6 October.
"This year Puja is being organised and celebrated in the middle of this unprecedented pandemic. This demands proper and adequate health safety measures for the citizens. Puja committees must ensure the health and safety norms for themselves and for the participants and visitors", read the notification issued by the government.
The state government has declared a relaxation in the ongoing night curfew by permitting movement between 11pm and 5am during the puja days. However, other existing COVID-19 related restrictions have been extended till 30 October.
Here is everything you need to know about the guidelines.
What is there to know about pandals this Durga Puja?
Pandals are to be kept spacious - open from all sides.
Entry and exit will be carried out from different gates.
In case it is essential to keep closed ceilings, the sides will have to be kept open.
Physical distancing arrangements should be done
No crowding is allowed
Floor marking and other required signages will have to be made wherever necessary.
What about COVID-19 precautions?
Masks will be compulsory for all visitors. Organisers will have to make proper arrangements for the distribution of masks in-and-around the pandal. Use and distribution of sanitisers are also compulsory.
What is there to know about Puja rituals?
Adequate number of volunteers are required to ensure compliance of COVID-19 precautions; volunteers themselves should follow norms.
Anjali, distribution of prasad and sindoor khela should be organised by Puja committees in a planned manner, and in smaller groups as much as possible.
Priests should use microphones to utter the mantras, so that sound reaches worshippers standing far away.
Devotees are encouraged to offer anjali with flowers brought from home in order to avoid congestion at flower collection points.
The state government order has stressed that inaugurations of pandals, award-distribution programmes, and other celebrations should be all be kept “low key".
What about cultural programmes?
No cultural programmes are allowed in or near the Puja pandal premises.
What are the rules on immersions?
Immersions and inaugurations are required to be kept minimalist and low-key. Wherever possible, inaugurations should be in virtual mode. Masks, sanitisers and physical distancing are mandatory.
Pre-planned allocation of time slots for usage of the river bank to different puja committees should be strictly adhered to, the guidelines added.
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