PUJA … Calcutta High Court orders slight easing of restrictions for Durga Puja; festival starting today


KOLKATA: In a major relief to the wide spectrum of Puja enthusiasts, the Calcutta High Court has eased its pervious order that had made Durga Puja Pandals virtually inaccessible in view of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic. “The tastefully built pandals had virtually been made “no-entry” zones by the court,” was how a set of over 400 organisers of the traditional pandals complained before the court.

On this, the court did a review and allowed up to 45 persons at each pandal at a time, but this is restricted to orgnisers and not the public, the court has made clear. The previous order this week was to allow up to 25 persons for big pandals and 15 for small ones. Drummers can perform outside the barricades.

The Durga Puja festival begins on Thursday. The court has asked organisers to put up barricades five metres from the pandal to restrict approach of people to the pandals. In case of bigger pandals, the distance for barricades will be 10 metres, the court ordered.

West Bengal has reported over three lakh Covid-19 cases so far, and about 6,000 Covid-linked deaths. The government has asked the public to observe social distancing norms during the duration of the 10 day (nine nights) festival, when streets are additionally lit up and mass movement from pandal to pandal is a usual practice.

The Durga Puja season is also the season for massive purchases, of clothes, garments, household items etc, also as this is time for disbursal of bonuses to government and private firm employees. This season too, with bonus reaching many hands, the shopping extravaganza will be witnessed but possibly on a low-key in view of the overall economic downturn and job losses to many. IHN-NN

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