The West Bengal government on Wednesday issued guidelines for conducting Durga Puja festivities amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In a detailed press release, the state government outlined various measures to be taken by the pandal organizers and other groups to ensure masking, hygiene and social distancing before Durga Puja rituals and functions. On Tuesday, 11 people died due to this disease in the state. A total of 619 new cases took the number of infected in the state to 15,72,460.
After the second devastating wave of Covid-19 in April and May this year, the Center has warned against laxity in measures against the disease ahead of the coming festive season and relaxed state norms.
In this episode, in view of the festive season, the Bengal government has made the use of masks and hand sanitizers mandatory and banned cultural programs so that the disease does not spread.
Guidelines given by the Government of Bengal:
Large open pandals with separate entry and exit gates: The state government in its press release said that the pandals should be big and they should be kept open from all sides. If it becomes necessary to have a closed roof, then it will have to be kept open from the side. The pandals should have adequate space and arrangement for social distancing as per the extant COVID-19 pandemic norms. There should be separate arrangements for entry and exit with different gates.
Mask and hand sanitizer mandatory: It will be mandatory for all the visitors coming to the pandals to wear masks. The release said that in order to meet any emergency, the organizers will have to make adequate arrangements for distribution of masks in the vicinity of the pandal to the spectators who come to the pandal premises without wearing masks inadvertently. Similarly, the use and availability of hand sanitizer should be made mandatory in and around the pandal premises.
Volunteers and Overcrowded Rituals: Puja organizers should keep enough volunteers to maintain physical distance between visitors, wear masks and use hand sanitisers. Volunteers should wear face masks and face shields for protection. Keeping in view the health safety of the participants and the organisers, the organizing of Anjali, Prasad distribution or Sindoor Khela by the Puja Committees should be done in a planned manner and as far as possible in small groups in different ways with different timings. should be organized from
The release said that the priest should use a microphone to recite the mantra so that the sound reaches the people standing at a distance and people do not have to gather together in small places. Devotees may be asked to offer Anjali with flowers brought from their homes, so that the flower collection points in the pandals do not become overcrowded.
No cultural events: Government announced that cultural programs will not be allowed in/near the Puja Pandal premises.
Emphasis on electronic and social media: The release said that the organizers and public authorities should use electronic and social media to make people aware to avoid gathering and crowding on the streets and near the pandals. Organizers/volunteers and police personnel on duty should facilitate continuous movement of visitors to avoid unnecessary crowding.
Opening and Immersion: Inauguration and immersion should be low-key and minimal programs without much pomp and grandeur. The release states that as far as possible, the opening should be in virtual mode. Masks, sanitizers, physical distancing and no-crowd principles will be followed in all cases.
The Ghats will be properly sanitized before and during the immersion to facilitate the physical distancing norms required under the prevailing situation. Protima should be taken straight to the ghats without any restriction, avoiding unnecessary turns and long paths.
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