Durga puja is in a week and Navratri starts on Saturday. Pictures of Durga Puja and Navratri preparations from across the country give an idea of what two of India’s biggest festivals will look like in a pandemic year and what people are planning to do. Every year, in the weeks between Navratri, Diwali, and Bhai Dooj, Indians celebrate practically every day. People visit friends and relatives, go shopping, and of course, exchange gifts. Amid the Covid pandemic, experts are calling on everyone to stay home so the infection does not spread quickly. The gatherings of Navratri and Durga Puja are an integral part of celebrations when it is very difficult to maintain social distancing.
With the number of footsteps increasing as it approaches Durga Puja, Kolkata and other parts of the country, mall authorities are trying to take safety measures, including disinfecting elevators and handrails. “We have been paying attention to security protocols since the reopening of our mall and are diligently following the guidelines. We will allow up to 50% of our standard capacity of around 50,000 people,” the manager of Acropolis mall told Kolkata, K Vijayan at PTI News Agency.
Durga Puja in Calcutta and other parts of West Bengal is famous for extravagant pandals. The organizers are in a race to outdo themselves. From replicas of famous architectural structures to eco-friendly structures and quirky designs, some of the pandals are spectacular. In the year of the pandemic, here is a “ coronavirus ” pandal in the district of South Dinajpur in West Bengal.
In Kumartuli in Calcutta, the traditional center, where the idols of the goddess Durga are made, artists are busy putting the finishing touches. The grandeur of the decorations is absent, the idols are smaller and the demand is significantly less, but the artists are still hopeful.
Traditionally during Durga puja, new movies are hitting theaters in West Bengal and special puja songs are coming out. This year, in a single gesture, a collection of still images of “Sonar Kella” by Satyajit Ray will be featured in the fall issue of “Sandesh”, a children’s magazine. Ray’s son, Sandip Ray, told the PTI news agency that the rare photos were taken in 1973 while filming “Sonar Kella”, where the legendary Soumitra Chatterjee immortalized Feluda.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Tuesday that cultural programs in the state with a maximum of 150 people will be allowed during Durga Puja. Events must take place in open spaces, she said.
Meanwhile, a plea has been filed with the Calcutta High Court asking for instructions to stop the Durga Puja celebrations in West Bengal due to the pandemic, ANI news agency reported. According to the plea, the COVID-19 situation in the state is the same as in Kerala after Onam.