A maximum of 30 persons inclusive of organisers and priests shall be allowed to gather at any time in puja pandals, the notification said Credit: EastMojo image file

Guwahati: Very less number of people came to streets and offered “tarpan” across the state as the auspicious Mahalaya began on Thursday. However, Durga Puja festivities this year are going to start more than a month later in an unusual departure from the traditional seven-day gap.

The day started with very less number of people paying obeisance to their forefathers on the banks of Brahmaputra and other rivers and water bodies across the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the day marking the end of “Pitri Pakshya”, elders of the family paid homage to their ancestors by performing “tarpan”, a ritual in which water is offered to the ancestors’ souls.

Meanwhile, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Assam government has issued guidelines for the celebration of Durga puja in the state.

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The govt notification

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The official order issued by state chief secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna said that there shall be no mela etc., in and around puja pandals.

The state government has also imposed ban on erecting temporary pandals to celebrate puja by the side of any street.

“A maximum of 30 persons inclusive of organisers and priests shall be allowed to gather at any time in the puja pandals. A maximum of 20 devotees shall be allowed to gather at any puja premises subject to there being sufficient space to maintain social distancing. Puja organisers should not allow any person to enter the puja premises without face cover and washing of hands. It will be the responsibility of puja organisers to arrange for facilities for handwashing / sanitization at the entrance of puja premises,” the order said.

The state government notification has also said that no permission for any immersion procession shall be given under any circumstances. A maximum of five persons shall be allowed to complete the ritual of immersion.

All visitors to puja location shall be subjected to thermal scanning by puja organisers and no person with any symptom related to COVID-19 shall be allowed to enter the puja pandals, the notification said, adding: In case any person/ visitor to puja pandal is suspected to be symptomatic with COVID-19, it will be the responsibility of the puja organisers to inform the nearest government medical facility and arrange for the shifting of such person to the nearest COVID treatment centre.

The deputy commissioners shall make necessary arrangements to ensure that immersion is staggered over three-day period to avoid congestion and large gathering on any one day, it added.

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