October 12, 2021 5:00:31 pm
West Bengal on Tuesday soaked in the festive spirit of Durga Puja on ‘Mahasaptami’, as devotees began the day with traditional rituals and revellers made a beeline for popular marquees across the state.
Since early morning, banana plantains – ‘Nabapatrika’ (symbolising Lord Ganesha’s wife) – were taken for a ritual dip to water bodies, with most preferring the river Ganga.
Worshippers then offered ‘Pushpanjali’ (floral libations) to Goddess Durga amid chanting of ‘mantras’ (hymns).
However, COVID-19 protocols went for a toss at most places, as people were seen thronging Durga puja pandals in the city and neighbouring Salt Lake, doing away with sporting face masks and maintaining social distancing.
The West Bengal government had recently issued advisories, asking revellers to maintain health safety guidelines to prevent a rise of Covid cases.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who inaugurated several community Durga Puja pandals over the last few days, had also urged people to wear masks.
The Calcutta High Court has ordered that all Durga Puja pandals in West Bengal be made no-entry zones for the public, as was directed last year, to curb the spread of COVID-19 due to crowding.
The court has this year permitted puja rituals like ‘Anjali’, ‘Arati’ and ‘Sindur Khela’ inside the marquees, while directing that the relaxation will be subject to a cap on the maximum number of persons allowed, and compliance with conditions like double vaccination and wearing of masks.
Most Durga Puja organisers had planned their marquees keeping in mind last year’s high court order, so that visitors can view the idols and the artwork from a distance.
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