Durga Puja in Lucknow to be scaled down this year; official SOP to be followed

In a first, no prasad will be distributed as per government directives.

As we're trying to settle in with the standards of the 'new normal', there have been major changes across most of our daily activities and festivities too, are no exception this year. One of the grandest festivals of the Bengali community, Durga Puja is slated to start on the 22nd of October and due to the pandemic at hand, the celebrations have come with an official SOP. The Uttar Pradesh government has allowed the festivities to continue but in strict accordance with the issued COVID-19 norms.

Asche bocchor abar hobe

Shashwat Lucknow Durga Puja

As per traditions, the pujo will start with bodhon on Shoshti, which is on the 22nd of October and conclude on the 26th of October, which is the dashami day. The authorities have also imposed a limitation on the number of people, who will be attending events in an enclosed area. In tune with the norms, only 50% of a hall's capacity can be used. The new guidelines have been put into action from the 15th of October. The District Magistrates in each district will make their own decisions, according to their local situations.

Government guidelines also state that sanitisation provisions, thermal scanners and masks, will have to be made available at entry points. This year, many puja pandals are implementing a token/pass system, in an effort to control the crowds and to maintain ample social distancing, circles on the ground/floor have to be chalked out. Anjali timings will be flexible so that more people can be accommodated daily for this ritual. In a first, no prasad will be distributed as per government directives.

It's mandatory for all such venues to have separate entrance and exit points. If any monetary transactions have to take place at the venues, then the organisers should arrange for contactless payments. The guidelines prohibit spitting in public places and direct all venues to have covered bins for the safe disposal of masks, gloves, or similar items. Although not a compulsion, the guidelines state that organisers can consider CCTV surveillance systems to monitor the crowds and it also asks for mapping of nearest health facilities.

Pregnant women, persons above 65 years of age, children below 10 and those with comorbidities are advised to stay at home. For the immersion process, the authorities have highly recommended small vehicles with minimum people to be in attendance and routes for such processions should be planned in advance.

"We're doing a small scale pujo this year, in accordance to the issued directives. We've also started giving out passes, so that we can effectively manage the crowds here. There will be no bhog distribution," a committee member of the Shashwat Lucknow Durga Puja club was quoted saying.

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