Revised guidelines make mandatory Covid-19 test for Puja organizers, volunteers, priests to avert further spread of virus Credit: File Image

Agartala: Barely a week before the Durga Puja celebration, the Tripura government has issued a revised guidelines making mandatory Covid-19 test of the Puja organizers, volunteers and priests in a move to avert further spread of the novel coronavirus.

Earlier on September 4, Tripura government issued guidelines informing all clubs, puja committees, household and puja organizers must take prior permission from district administration, police and other concerned departments.

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“Given the COVID-19 situation, the subscriptions may be voluntary. The clubs, puja committees may try to introduce a system of collection of donation, subscription online to avoid visit of homes and personal interaction. They may circulate bank details in case such arrangements are adopted. Effort should be made by Municipal bodies to reduce the number of pandals through mutual consultation so that there are no pandals in close vicinity,” the first general guideline reads.

The fresh guidelines issued by the government informed that the pandals should be kept open from all sides. If the roof of the pandal is required to be sealed, then all other sides of the pandal need to be kept open and vice versa. The government prohibited to organize any kind of fair in front of the puja pandals barring few stalls could be set up at some distance from the puja pandal to avoid crowds.

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The guidelines also cited that the priests would direct the pushpanjali ritual during puja through microphones and the devotees need to bring flowers from their homes. Not more than 10 to 15 devotees could take part in the pushpanjali at a time.

In the Dussehra, the puja clubs would organize ‘sindoor khela’— a traditional ritual where married women bid adieu to Goddess Durga by applying vermillion on her face, maximum of 15 women could take part at a time in different intervals.

The puja organizers would have to engage volunteers to see that the people visiting the pandals are maintaining Covid-19 norms, including social distancing, wearing facemasks etc.

The guideline also mandated the puja organizers to install CCTVs in their pandals to monitor the crowds and later handed over these footage to the police.

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Pregnant women, veterans and children below 10 years old have been advised to stay at homes during the puja. Though there would be no Durga puja celebration in the containment zones, the people residing within the zones could celebrate in their respective homes.

Earlier on October 6, the Centre issued its guidelines for the celebration of Durga Puja with a set of restrictions.

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