Festive Spirit Takes A Beating As Devotees Skip Empty Pandals In Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneswar: With the life practically getting confined to online on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, Durga Puja this year has also gone virtual way.

Most of the Durga puja committees in the city have opened Facebook pages for streaming the rituals of each auspicious day. Nayapalli Durga Puja Committee, one of the hot spots of celebration in the city, has tied up with a TV channel to telecast the puja.

“Though Durga Puja is an occasion for colourful and vibrant celebration, we have to follow the government guidelines. Only seven persons including the priests are allowed on the pandal. We have conducted COVID-19 test of those seven people,” said Nabakishore Behera, secretary of the Rajadhani Santi Committee and adviser of the Nayapalli Durga Puja Samiti.

“Artisan Sameer from Kolkata has given shape to the idols of Devi Durga and others as per the specification of the government. The height of the idol has been limited to four feet and paper-made ornaments have been used to decorate Maa Durga,” said Behera.

“Nayapalli Durga Puja is famous for its theme-based pandal, but we have been restrained from putting up a grand show this time. The pandemic has dampened the festive spirit of everyone,” he added.

“Considering the COVID-19 situation in the city, we should be careful about its spread. Instead of requesting the committee members to allow inside the Puja Pandal, devotees should enjoy the online puja at home,” said Behera.

Bomikhal Durga Puja Committee Vice-President Sailendra Jena also speaks in the same line. “To keep the tradition going, we are performing all the rituals of Maa Durga. People are enjoying the online our puja. I request the devotees to stay at home and pray Maa Durga to protect us from this pandemic,” he said.

“Though we cannot allow the people to the pandal, we have distributed Ashtami Prasad at their houses in our locality,” Jena added.

The revellers have also taken the restrictions on their stride. “The festive spirit is missing this year. Normally, we used to go for shopping before puja every year and go for pandal hopping in the evening. But this year, we do not have interest in shopping. Though we are getting online darshan of Maa Durga, we are missing the colourful decorations, beautiful theme-based Pandals and Meena Bazaars,” said Bijayalaxmi Sahoo, a Bhubaneswar citizen.

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