2020 Durga Puja : ‘TONED DOWN' In Kolkata

COVID-19 impact: ‘Toned down’ Durga Puja celebrations in Kolkata this year; pandals will not be cancelled

Coronavirus lockdown: No grand celebrations for this year’s Durga Puja! ‘Toned down’ Durga Puja festival to be organised in Kolkata, but Pandals will not be cancelled! The coronavirus-induced global health pandemic and the consequent lockdown will lead to a toned down Durga Puja festival in Kolkata this year, according to a report in IE. However, the pandals which are the heart of the celebrations will not be cancelled, the report added. The report further said that the Kolkata-based organisation which looks over the community pandals for Durga Puja in the metropolitan, called the Forum of Durgotsab, denied reports claiming the cancellation of pandals due to the outbreak.

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In the metropolitan area of Kolkata, an approximate of around 400 big pandals are built every year to mark the festival, the report stated, adding that apart from that, numerous smaller pandals are also set up in different neighbourhoods.

The report further quoted the forum’s Vice President Sandipan Banerjee as saying that the major organisers of the puja in Kolkata have unofficially decided to organise the festival at a smaller scale, but the puja will not be cancelled.

The report further informed that the nationwide lockdown ordered by Centre had also recently affected the celebrations for Poila Boishak, or the Bengali New Year, as people could not participate in rituals or customs and could not meet their friends and family.

Banerjee also said that they have been told that sponsors are not sure about the amount they will be able to provide the forum with as the income for the first quarter has been adversely affected due to the pandemic, according to the report. However, the organisers are hopeful that things will get clearer in the next few weeks.

One of the biggest community pujas in the city Behala Nutan Dals President Debabrata Mukherjee was quoted as saying that they are facing budget cuts and have also donated some amount from their puja budget to the CM Relief Fund for the pandemic. Mukherjee added that they may give more donations, so the pandal would be built, but the spending would be curtailed. Mukherjee was further quoted as saying that they were aware their sponsors would not be able to give enough money to them, so for now, they plan to organise puja celebrations, but that would depend on government advisories.

Meanwhile, Banerjee was quoted as saying that in case the government issued any orders, they would organise pujas at a very small scale. He further said that the city has always celebrated Durga Puja, with the involvement of the government and so, they will wait for what the government says. If needed, he added, they might organise pujas while maintaining social distance between visitors.

Banerjee was quoted as saying that Durga Puja is not just a religious festival anymore, but is one that also impacts the incomes of many people from all sections of the society. This is why, he said, the celebrations would not be completely cancelled.

He further said that come July, they would have more clarity on whether the Puja would happen or not.


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