DIMAPUR, OCTOBER 23: Durga Puja festival began today with Mahasaptami in Dimapur without beautifully erected pandals and dazzling lights as the Coronavirus pandemic restricted large scale celebrations, which were witnessed in the previous years. Out of 50 plus puja pandals often seen in Dimapur district, this year the Durga Puja celebration has been restricted to the temples only and that too under strict SOPs.
The Durga Mandir Puja Committee, which had always maintained uniqueness in decorations every year, preferred to observe the puja in a simple and restricted manner, not even allowing gathering of people inside the Hall, where pujas are performed.
A member of the Committee told Nagaland Page that they are strictly following the COVID-19 SOPs issued by the state Government and Dimapur Deputy Commissioner and assured that it would be followed during the next 3 days.
As one enters the Durga Mandir Hall, one finds security personnel with Thermal Scanners and hand sanitizers, meant for scanning each and every individual visiting the hall.
A member said that they have hired few private security personnel for the Durga Puja festival, who will not only see the security of the premises but also make sure that the devotees enter the Hall wearing masks and use hand sanitizers.
The Puja Committee also has made arrangements for masks and provide to the devotees who turn up without wearing one.
The Kalibari Durga Puja Committee has gone a step further in terms of preventing the spread of Coronavirus. While volunteers at the main gate have made it mandatory for the devotees to wear masks and use hand sanitizers, the Committee has erected automatic sanitization chamber at the entrance of the temple premises.
The Committee has also set up a help desk, where they are providing masks to the devotees and also any kind of assistance.
As reported earlier in Nagaland Page, a total of 21 puja pandals were given permission to celebrate the festival in Dimapur district, but one puja committee has withdrawn due to certain reasons.
While puja revelers were very few on the first day of the festival, Puja Committees hope that more people will turn up tomorrow on Mahaasthami and day after on Mahanavami.
Meanwhile, incessant rains and drizzling have hampered the puja spirit in Dimapur.
Puja Committee members feel that if rains continue for the next 2 days, people will hardly come out of their houses, except to perform the rituals in the morning.
They said as there are no puja pandals erected anywhere, people might not be interested in visiting various temples as they can perform the rituals in one temple and return home.
This year the size of Goddess Durga has also been reduced to 5 feet so that it would be easier for less people to carrying during the immersion, amidst Covid pandemic.
Earlier, in an Order, Deputy Commissioner, Dimapur, had asked the concerned Puja Committees to ensure all arrangements as per SOP including enforcing COVID-19 precautions to facilitate the movement of devotees, traffic arrangements, etc.
The guidelines issued by the Principal Secretary, Home Department, R Ramakrishnan stated that a maximum of 30 people including organizers and priests shall be allowed to gather at any time in puja pandals.
The puja organisers should not allow any person to enter the puja premises without face cover or mask, Ramakrishnan said, adding that it would be the responsibility of puja organisers to arrange for facilities for hand-washing or sanitization at the entrance of puja premises.
All visitors to puja pandals would be subject to thermal scanning by puja organisers and no person with any symptom related to COVID-19 shall be allowed to enter the puja pandals, the guidelines said. Devotees can visit the temples from 5 a.m. till 10 p.m. and the organizers should ensure sanitisation of the premises before opening and after closing and every 6 hours during the day, it said.
People above 65 years of age, children below 10 years of age and persons with co-morbidities and pregnant women may be advised to avoid visiting the puja pandals, the guidelines said.
(Page News Service)