Gurugram: This Durga Puja, pre-booked pandal slots, vax checks & bhog home-delivered


GURUGRAM: Entry to pandals through pre-booked slots, virtual screening of cultural programmes and aartis, smaller idols and packaged bhog delivered through home delivery apps — this Durga Puja will be like no other as the city gears up to strike a balance between conducting rituals traditionally and ensuring that there are no big gatherings that could lead to spread of Covid-19 infection.
On Sasthi, the first day of the five-day festival, the Joint Puja Committee (JPC), an umbrella body under whose aegis pandals are put up, said 22 committees were organising Durga Puja across the city this year.
While more relaxations have been allowed this season than 2020 when the pandemic was raging, JPC member Kaushik Bandopadhyay told TOI, celebrations will still remain muted.
“At every step, abiding by Covid-19 protocols will be a must. On Dashami (Friday), there will be slots for the immersion of idols. Each puja committee will be allotted a time when four to five members will be allowed to take the idol for immersion at a temporary pond dug up at Sector 56,” Bandopadhyay said.
With a third wave of the pandemic not ruled out, most puja organisers will be restricting the number of visitors to the pandals and streaming rituals online. At Bangiya Parishad Gurugram (BPG), popular for organising one of the biggest pandals in Sector 56, devotees from outside have been allowed to offer prayers.
“But they have booked slots through a mobile application where they have to declare that they are fully vaccinated and are not running a temperature. We are also drafting in a team, led by a private security agency and our volunteers, to check the vaccination status of all at the entry point. In addition, we have installed an air purifier in the hall,” Partha Dey, BPG president, said.
The DLF City Durga Puja and Bengali Cultural Society, which is organising its pandal at Phase 2, have also made entry through pre-booked slots on an application mandatory. But unlike BPG, they will only permit members of the society to physically visit the pandal. While members who are below 45 years of age have to produce partial vaccination or RT-PCR negative result certificates, those above 45 years will have to be fully vaccinated, organisers said.
“We are allowing 50 people at a time for darshan. After each batch, 30 minutes will be reserved for sanitisation of the area before the next group is allowed. No food or offerings are allowed, and there will be no food stalls. Bhog will be packed and sent to every member’s home via Zomato,” Bhashkar Mukherjee, DCDP Bengali Cultural Society president, said.
At DLF 5 pandal, too, only patrons have been allowed to offer prayers physically. “The puja pandal can be accessed only by patrons this year who have all registered and booked slots in advance,” Chandrima Chatterjee, a volunteer at DLF5 Durga Puja, said.
Among the few pandals that have permitted devotees to walk in is Nobo Bongo Cultural Society in Sector 47. But here, too, food stalls and cultural programmes are missing and the idol is shorter at six feet.
“Things are closer to normal this year, so we are following all the rituals and allowing residents to visit, but if the crowd within the campus is more than 100, our committee will reserve the right to stop people from entering. We are allowing people to attend the pushpanjali, aarti, and other rituals, but our committee members will ensure that everyone stays only for a limited period of time,” Ipsita Roy, the society president, said.
Gurugram Bengali Association, the oldest Durga Puja organisers in the city, meanwhile, has cut celebrations to three days this year instead of the usual five. The idol height has also been restricted to two feet as compared to the usual 10 or 12 feet. The puja will be organized from October 13 to 15 at Gauri Shankar temple in Sector 9A, Angshuman Chakraborti, the association’s general secretary, said.
In the newly developed sectors, Tulip Bangiya Parishad has decided to open its doors for all devotees.
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