The Tripura government has come out with a set of guidelines to safely celebrate Diwali and Kali Puja amid the Covid-19 pandemic, by imposing a ban on firecrackers, preventing gatherings, and releasing a separate set of instructions for the Tripura Sundari temple in Udaipur, which usually witnesses lakhs of devotees on Diwali.
In a notice issued by Chief Secretary Manoj Kumar, the state government has issued a set of restrictions under the Disaster Management Act, 2005. These include mandatory social distancing norms in organising Kali Puja and prohibition of gathering or mela in front of any Kali temple in the state.
According to the guidelines, barricades are completely banned in front of any puja pandal to avoid unnecessary gatherings, taking lessons from Durga Puja, when thousands of devotees were seen thronging a puja pandal at Ushabazaar in the outskirts of Agartala. The local administration had to eventually ban the pandal and order them to immerse idols immediately.
The restrictions also include the compulsion of organising all Kali Puja festivities in open spaces as far as possible to ensure ‘darshan’ or sighting of the idols from a safe distance. All idols of Goddess Kali have to be kept within a height of five feet. A complete ban has also been placed on any procession while bringing in the idol for immersion. A maximum of five devotees would be allowed to enter the pandal at a time, that too maintaining a social distancing of at least one meter between themselves. Also, there should be a sufficient number of volunteers in place to handle any sort of emergency.
All cultural or entertainment events have been cancelled during the Puja festivities and following days. All puja pandals are instructed to keep mandatory hand washing services, sanitise the pandal and ropes used for entry and exit routes at least thrice every day, thermal screening of all devotees visiting the puja pandals while the distribution of god offerings has been kept off the books completely.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister has launched organic bamboo diyas to replace candles and lights during the Diwali festivities. On November 6, the CM launched ‘eco-friendly’ bamboo candles and diyas and said the move would promote ‘vocal for local’ initiative.
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