Chatrabandhu Chittranjan Club in Agartala Credit: EastMojo Image

Agartala: With just some hours left for Durga Puja, preparations are in full swing to celebrate the puja across the state. However, due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus, the Tripura government has imposed certain restrictions on devotees and puja organizers to avert further spread of the virus.

The big budget puja organizers have cut short their budget by 70 to 80 percent and both the size and height of the pandal have been limited to ensure less number of devotees visit the pandals avoiding any social, cultural programs and distribution of Prasad.

Speaking with EastMojo, Anup Paul, member of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Club, said that due to the pandemic the Puja the club had decided to have a low key celebration this year by cutting short their budget by 80 per cent.

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“We are one of the biggest puja organizers in Tripura. The budget is usually more than 30 lakh every year, but this year due to the COVID-19 the budget came down to 20%. We have not collected any subscription from local people,” he said adding that clubs will stream the visuals of the puja and decoration online for the devotees to see it seating at home.

The Tripura government had issued guidelines on October 12 which 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.

Netaji Play Forum Centre in Agartala on Tuesday

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Pradip Saha, treasure of Shiv Nagar Modern club, said, “Unfortunately this year we are not organizing Durga Puja on a large scale considering the unprecedented situation. We have not made any ‘pandal’ to prevent large gatherings to keep the public safe from this contagious disease.”

Last year, the budget of Shiv Nagar Modern Club was more than Rs 25 lakh but this year in a very simple way the club members are observing the Puja without any pandal.

Sanjay Saha, president of Netaji Play Forum also echoed the same and said that every year the budget is usually high but due to the COVID-19, the members of the clubs have decided to donate themselves and organize the puja to maintain all norms of the COVID-19.

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Almost all the Puja organizers across the Agartala city will host a small puja to ensure there’s no further spread of the virus.

However, people in Agartala throng the market for last moment hopping on Tuesday, violating social distancing norms and not wearing face masks in public places.

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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