Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], October 6 (ANI): Ahead of the Navratri festival, the government of West Bengal has issued guidelines for the Durga Puja celebrations in the state.
"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.
As per the guidelines, pandals shall have to be spacious and open from all sides with separate entry-exit points. If in case, it becomes essential to have a closed ceiling, the sides must be kept open. Pandals must keep adequate space and arrangements for ensuring physical distancing in terms of the existing COVID-19 pandemic norms. Mingling and crowding should be avoided at all places. Floor markings and other signages should be made on entry and exit routes and assembly points to ensure compliance with physical distancing norms.
Masks and hand sanitisers shall be compulsory for all visitors visiting the pandals.
Keeping in view the health safety of participants and organisers, carrying out religious activities like "Anjali, Prasad Bitaran or Sindoor Khela" should be organised by Puja Committees in a planned manner and to the extent possible in smaller groups with spaced out timings in a staggered way.
The guidelines said that priests should use microphones to utter the mantras so that the sound reaches worshippers who will be standing at far off distances and people do not have to assemble closely in small spaces. Devotees may be encouraged to offer "Anjali with flowers" brought from homes, so that flower collection points in the pandals do not become congestion points.
No cultural programmes in/near the Puja pandal premises will be allowed.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to have physical distancing norms, the state immersion carnival shall not be held this year, as per the guidelines. In a similar move, melas and carnivals near Puja pandals shall not be allowed.
The festival of Navratri will be observed from October 7 till October 15. (ANI)