The Calcutta high court allowed some restrictions in this year’s Durga Puja celebrations by allowing vaccinated individuals to offer ‘pushpanjali’ and take part in ‘sindoor khela’. The court, however, cautioned that only 45-60 people will be allowed for the rituals in big pandals and 10-15 people will be allowed in smaller ones.
The court has imposed a ban on entry of visitors to Durga Puja pandals this year, too, stating that all restrictions imposed last year will remain in force this time around.
“This means the ban on the entry of visitors inside the Durga Puja pandals remains. The court had mandated putting up barricades outside the pandals while putting a cap on the number of puja committee members who can enter a pandal,” Sabyasachi Chatterjee, an advocate, told Hindustan Times.
Advocate general Soumendra Nath Mookherjee informed that the West Bengal government has no objection to the court’s order banning visitors. The state government released its own set of guidelines, banning cultural events at or near puja pandals.
The advisory also urged organisers to ensure that prasad distribution, pushpanjali, and sindoor khela are held in a planned manner, in small groups, with staggered entry and exit timings to ensure social distancing measures are complied with. Organisers have also been urged to ask devotees to bring flowers from home for pushpanjali so crowding can be avoided.
“This year Puja is being organised and celebrated in the middle of this unprecedented pandemic. This demands proper and adequate health safety measures for the citizens. Puja Committees must ensure the health and safety norms for themselves and for the participants and visitors,” read the advisory issued by the West Bengal government.
The five day festival, the biggest one in West Bengal, is slated to start from October 11. Centre has already cautioned states to take appropriate measures during the festive season to ensure Covid-19 cases do not go up after the festivities end. Bengal has recorded a total of 18,848 Covid-19 cases till date.