October 6, 2021 12:54:28 pm
From banning carnivals and melas to ensuring effective crowd management in pandals, the West Bengal government has released a list of Covid guidelines ahead of the upcoming Durga Puja festival to follow across the state. All puja committees have been directed to mandatorily follow the Mamata Banerjee-led state government’s order to manage the influx of people during the nine-day festival.
The Calcutta High Court on Friday said that, like last year, visitors would not be allowed to enter Durga Puja pandals this time too, and the premises would be treated as containment zones because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, the state government announced that night curfew would be relaxed across the state between 11 pm and 5 am from October 10 to 20 because of the festivities.
Here are some of the guidelines imposed by the West Bengal government
Spacious pandals with separate entry and exist points
As per the government’s guidelines, pandals will have to be spacious and open from all sides. Pandals will need adequate space to ensure that physical distancing is maintained at all times.
Separate entry and exit points are mandatory, with clear signage indicating assembly points and routes to enter and leave the pandal.
Priests have been instructed to use microphones to chant the mantra, so visitors standing at a distance will also be able to hear the puja.
Compulsory masks and hand sanitiser
Masks are compulsory for everyone visiting the pandal. Hand sanitiser must be made available in the pandal premises, the guidelines state.
Puja organisers will have to ensure volunteers are present in adequate numbers to ensure physical distancing mandates are followed.
Anjali on the eighth day of the festival, or Ashtami, as well as the distribution of prasad and ‘sindoor khela’ on the tenth day, should be organised in a phased manner, as per the guidelines.
Devotees have been urged to bring their own flowers to offer during Anjali to prevent congestion at flower collection points in the pandal.
To prevent large groups of people from gathering, the state immersion carnival will not be held. Cultural programmes and melas in and around the pandal premises will not be permitted.
Organisers have been encouraged to obtain permission through online systems.
Spacing out festivities
To ensure that physical distancing norms are followed, organisers have been urged to consider spreading the festivities over a longer period.
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