Thousands of people offered ‘tarpan’ on the auspicious occasion of Mahalaya across West Bengal on Thursday violating social distancing norms. Although several wore masks, people failed to maintain a minimum gap of one metre between each other while offering payers for the soul of their departed ancestors on banks various rivers.
In river Hooghly, hundreds of people took a dip in the water on this occasion without adhering to safety precautions. Babu Ghat, Princep Ghat, Golabari Ghat and others were swarming with people since early morning.
Meanwhile, river traffic police kept a strict vigil along the various ghats to prevent any untoward incident. Kolkata Police made adequate security arrangements at the 18 ghats in Kolkata. Senior police officers were posted at the ghats while civic police volunteers were deployed to manage the crowd.
Similarly across the state, people offered prayers and took a dip in the rivers.
On Mahalaya, idol makers and artists usually draw the eyes of Devi Durga, a ritual known as “chokkhu daan”. However, this time it did not happen tas Durga Puja starts over a month later on October 22.
This has happened as the Bengali month of Kartik starting on Friday is a ‘mala mash’ or lunar month, which is considered inauspicious for any religious or social festivity. The Vishwakarma Puja, which is traditionally celebrated every year on September 17, has also coincided with the Mahalaya this time.
Meanwhile, the occasion of Mahalaya became a point of contention between the TMC and the BJP as leaders of both parties offered prayers in memory of their party workers who were allegedly killed in political violence in the state.
On Wednesday, the police prevented the BJP from organising its “shahid tarpan” event at Bagbazar Ghat and dismantled a stage that was set up for the programme. Later, the BJP shifted their programme to Golabari Ghat.
On Thursday, state BJP Mahila Morcha president Agnimitra Paul offered her prayers on the bank of Mahananda river in Siliguri. In Gandheshwari river of Bankura district, state BJP vice-president Raju Banerjee offered tarpan, praying for the departed souls of their party workers.
“Today I offered prayers for my ancestors and for 112 party workers who were killed in political violence in the state by the TMC. I also prayed for peace in Bengal and asked goddess Durga to relieve us from coronavirus,” said Paul.
Similarly, state minister and senior TMC leader Shyamal Santra offered prayers for his party workers in Dwarakeswar river in Bankura district. “On this auspicious occasion, I offer my prayers for souls of thousands of our workers who were killed in political violence,” said Santra.