The Calcutta High Court’s direction ordering all Durga Puja pandals across the state to be declared no-entry zones has marred the festive spirit of the youngsters of the city who were seeing new hopes of joy in the festival after a long gloom brought about by the pandemic.

This Durga Puja, unlike previous years, was special for several youngsters as they were seeing the festival to be the only opportunity, after a long gap of time, to meet friends and relatives, to celebrate and rejoice and to relive their life of the prepandemic times.

“Since the past seven or eight months, there is so much melancholy around us and we feel that we are alive but unable to breathe fresh air,” claimed Sukumar Das, a resident of Rashbehari Avenue.

“Remaining restricted in the house, without meeting friends or relatives for months, was almost like a bird in a cage,” rued Surya Kundu, a medical student and a resident of Elgin Road.

“The festival had brought new rays of hope, making us realise that we are still alive and the earlier life with friends and family could be re-lived at least for some time. I had plans of pandal hopping with my sister and her children from today onwards. They have travelled from Delhi to celebrate the puja with us after a long time. But the new order has splashed cold water on our hopes and the celebrations will now be restricted to only dining outside,” he added.

Debashmita Gupta, B. Tech student from North Kolkata, refused to stay at home during the festival irrespective of the situation.

For her, the festival is an opportunity after three years to spend quality time with her best friend who has recently returned from London.

“Our friends’ group including my best friend has plans of pandal hopping. I was so excited and hoping to spend time with them after a long time,” said the B. Tech student.

“The direction has marred our festive spirit. However, no matter what, we will surely go for pandal hopping, even if we get to see the glimpses from a distance,” she added.