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Annual puja carnival cancelled, cultural events disallowed: Govt

According to the guidelines, the pandals have to be spacious and kept open from all sides for proper ventilation, hand sanitisers will have to be mandatorily placed at the vicinity of the pandals and wearing face masks will be binding.

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

The much-awaited Durga Puja Carnival will not be held for the second time in a row due to the Covid restrictions.

State government has lifted the night restrictions (11 pm to 5 am) from 10 to 20 October to enable night-long pandal-hopping and chief minister Mamata Banerjee had said that a decision on holding the Durga Puja Carnival at Red Road would be taken later on. However, it has been decided not to hold the Carnival this year as well.

According to the set of guidelines that have been issued to the Durga Puja committees for the upcoming festival, due to the need for maintaining physical distancing norms Carnival and mela would not be allowed this time. Similarly, cultural programmes in or near the pandals would be disallowed.

According to the guidelines, the pandals have to be spacious and kept open from all sides for proper ventilation, hand sanitisers will have to be mandatorily placed at the vicinity of the pandals and wearing face masks will be binding. In case the sides have to be blocked then the ceiling has to be kept open and pandals must have adequate space for ensuring physical distancing. There has to be separate entry and exit gates with floor markings and other signage to ensure compliance with physical distancing norms.

Adequate number of volunteers must be deputed and they should wear face masks and shields for safety. Keeping in view the health safety of the participants, ‘Anjali’, ‘Prasad Bitaran’ and ‘Sindoor Khela’ should be organised in a planned and staggered manner with smaller groups.

Priests should use microphones so that the sound reaches worshippers standing even far away and thus avoid overcrowding. Again, devotees may be encouraged to offer ‘Anjali’ with flowers brought from homes so that collection points in the pandals do not become congested.

Judges for puja award programmes should not be allowed to enter the puja premises in huge convoys and not more than two cars of judges at a time should be allowed to visit a pandal. “Ideally all visits for “judging” the pujas should be virtual and physical visits should be confined from 10 am to 3 pm.

Electronic and social media should be used by organisers and public authorities to avoid overcrowding. Inaugurations and immersions should be low-key and minimalist without much pomp and grandeur. The inauguration should be in virtual mode wherever possible.

Ghats should be sanitised before and during immersion as well as time allotment should be done to ghat slots. All permissions should be attained through online mode. State fire and emergency services department and local
bodies would not charge any fees. Fifty per cent concession should be provided by power utility organisations.

As already announced by Banerjee, the state government has provided one-time financial assistance of Rs 50,000 per club to enable them to undertake the required arrangements to address the pandemic. The government has
sanctioned a sum of Rs 201 crore for the purpose, the official said.