An idol-maker is busy in his work Credit: Amlan Jyoti Das

Kohima: To prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the Durga Puja festival, the state’s home department issued guidelines restricting mela, food stall, stalls selling any items and so on, in and around the puja pandals.

The state government said that in view of the existing COVID-19 pandemic, suitable regulations are put in place and appropriate measures need to be taken during the forthcoming celebration of the Durga Puja Festival inorder to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The pandals with idols of Durga and other deities placed in the pandals are erected every year at temples (mandirs) and the public places at many locations in the State, particularly in Dimapur.

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The following are guidelines issued by the state government:

a) The puja pandals will be allowed to be set up only in temples (mandirs) and no temporary pandals shall be allowed to be erected on and by the side of any street.

b) The timing for the visit of the devotees to the pandals shall strictly be from 5AM in the morning till 10 PM in the evening.

c) There shall be no Mela/Food Stall/Stalls selling any items etc. in and around puja pandals.

d) A maximum of 30 persons including organizers and priests shall be allowed to gather at any time in the puja pandals

e) The puja organizers should not allow any person to enter the puja premises without face cover/mask and washing/sanitizing of hands. It shall be the responsibility of puja organizers to arrange for facilities for hand washing/ sanitization at entrance of puja premises.

f) Distribution of wet prasad to devotees shall not be done.

g) The organizers should ensure sanitizing the premises before opening and after closing and every 6 hours during the day.

h) No permission for any immersion procession shall be given under any circumstances. Maximum of 10(ten) persons shall be allowed to complete the ritual of immersion.

i) All visitors to puja location shall be subject to thermal scanning by puja organisers and no person with any symptom related to COVID-19 shall be allowed to enter the puja pandals.

j) In case any Person/ visitor to puja pandal is suspected to be symptomatic with COVID-19 it shall be the responsibility of the puja organizers to inform the nearest Government medical facility and arrange for shifting of such person to the nearest COVID-19 treatment centre.

k) Person above 65 years of age. Children below 10 years of age, person with co­morbidities and pregnant woman may be advised to avoid visiting the puja pandals.

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In addition to the necessary permissions granted to the puja committees/organizers for putting up pandals by the district authority, the final clearance will be issued by the respective District Task Force (DTF) headed by the Deputy Commissioner this year.

The DTF will also make necessary arrangements with the concerned puja committees/organizers to ensure that the immersion of the idols is suitably staggered so as to avoid congestion and large gatherings at the immersion sites.

It informed that any violation of the above mentioned guidelines will attract action as per legal provisions against the puja committee/organizer or the individual /devotee as the case may be.

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