After A Calcutta High Court order banned visitors’ entry to Durga Puja pandals, organisers made last-minute changes to keep up the festive spirit as well as traditional rituals. Giant screens have been installed outside many pandals for “darshan” (glimpse of the deities) and virtual “pushpanjali” (ritual of offering flowers to god) will be arranged for devotees at home.
Unlike any year, Kolkata recorded low footfall of pandal hoppers this time. With “no entry” boards making pandals out of bounds, the thin crowd mainly comprised youngsters. Puja organisers also installed loud speakers in the vicinity of the pandals to play mantras for the local residents.
“We will organise virtual pushpanjali through Zoom app. This will also help us to connect with people staying in foreign countries, including the US and the UK. Also, we will play the mantras on loudspeakers, so that people can offer pushpanjali at home,” said Subir Das, a member of Bhawanipore 75 Pally Puja Committee.
According to Das, who has been an active member of the Puja committee for the last 30 years, he used to have sleepless days and nights during Durga Puja. He used to be at the helm of affairs from organising Puja rituals to managing crowd and hosting events. “It used to be exhausting, but was fun. This is the first time in decades that I can get some sleep during the Puja. The turnout is very low. People are catching a glimpse of the pandal from their vehicles,” said Das.
Even before court restrictions were in place, Kolkata’s Santosh Mitra Square Puja committee had decided to livestream all rituals. “Keeping the pandemic in mind, we had decided to restrict visitors’ entry and made all arrangements accordingly. We couldn’t have risked anyone’s life,” said Sajal Ghosh, committee secretary.
Organisers of Jodhpur Park Sarbojanin have cut down on their budget and installed the idols inside a community hall. All their events will be livestreamed on giant screens across a stretch of one kilometre.
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