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 Forum for Durgotsab official Partha Ghosh.
The community Durga Puja committees in Kolkata will ensure that all those who are involved in the rituals and other related works are vaccinated in the next three months, an official said on Wednesday.
The puja committees will also make certain that people visiting the pandals wear masks covering the nose and maintain social distancing, 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.
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