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Covid forces 200-year old Puja to be called off

The puja and fair committee, after a meeting, stuck notice boards at Mahismardini talla today declaring about suspension of the fair.

Statesman News Service | Kalna |

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the temple town of Kalna, an ancient settlement on the bank of the Bhagirathi in the district of Burdwan (East), to suspend its traditional Mahismardini puja ~ a ritual and festivity observed since 200 years ~ which the organising committee of the carnival declared this here today.

Mahismardini puja is celebrated in Kalna ahead of the Durga puja – Bengal’s largest festival each year and a fair encircling the religious festival is arranged in a large ground where at least 300 shops and pavilions are set up showcasing local art and craftworks, garments, utensils, confectioneries and rural toys.

Toy train, puppet show, merrygo-rounds and magic show remain as the main crowd pullers. The festival runs for four days and lakhs of people gather from every part of Kalna and Katwa Sub-divisions including from Ranaghat subdivision in Nadia.

The fair cover almost half of the Kalna Municipal town between Mahismardini talla to Chokbazar area. This year, the puja was slated to begin on 2 August.

The puja and fair committee, after a meeting, stuck notice boards at Mahismardini talla today declaring about suspension of the fair.

Bijon Seth, president of the committee said: “After our executive committee resolved, we have decided to drop the fair for the year. As the fair attracts large crowd, we thought it would be the wise decision to suspend festivity in this pandemic situation.”

The state though has opened religious places, the Kalna fair committee too has decided to maintain symbolic puja of the Mahismardini deity, said Debaprasad Bag, chairman, Kalna Municipality.

A priest with the Chhotonilpur branch of Bharat Sevashram Sangha in the outskirt of Burdwan town today was shifted to Covid Hospital as he was tested Covid-19 positive.

Locals were panic gripped as the priest was assigned as a fund collection agent by the Sangha. Also, a student’s hostel run by the Sangha accommodates 22 students and their swabs also were collected today, the health officials said.