Durga puja in pandemic will be a staggered affair this year. The glitter, excitement and enthusiasm for big festivals like Dussehra and Diwali would likely to be subdued and coloured in monochrome tones as the celebrations are submerged in isolation, owing to the global pandemic. Rising corona cases will keep the residents in seclusion, taking away their festive mood, which our diverse culture is known for.
“The festival fervour is completely missing this year as there is no extravagant Durga Puja pandals like before. For the ten days the pandals used to bustle with huge rush of people dressed in new clothes. Now, it looks all plain,” said Joita, a resident of Kolkata.
Durga Puja in pandemic is a tough time for local marketers
This year, in an unprecedented situation like this, all the local traders specially vendors putting up their stalls in or around pandals are finding it really difficult to cope up with the hardships. Not just the financial loss, but the warmth has disappeared. Sales have fallen by 40-50% .
The pandemic has changed the manner of celebrating festivals all over the world, including in India. People recently observed many festivals such as Bihu, Baisakhi, Puthandu, Vishu and Odia new year while staying indoors.
No glitter in pandals
Every year, with the onset of Durga Puja or even before that various businesses related to the festival get invigorated – from idol-making to flower growers and sellers, and from shamiyana on rent to band troupes. But this year is different. A surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in the city has meant that people are planning low-key festivities, which in turn has meant that this festive season is going to be a damp squib for the pandal organisers.
Malls see visitors
Though retailers, shopping complexes and malls have taken necessary precautions to welcome customers, shoppers are wary. A few neighbourhood malls are witnessing a slow but steady rise in footfall on weekends, but huge, destination malls are struggling to attract customers.
Meanwhile Puja offers are contributing little happiness on customers’ as well as traders’ faces. Mall owners are unblinkingly waiting for customers to try out their ready stock.
Advisory issued by state governments
The Gujarat government has decided not to hold the Navratri festival this year. CM Vijay Rupani announced that it would not hold the state-level ‘navratri mahotsav’ at the GMDC ground.
Bengal government has asked the puja organisers to set-up open-air pandals with separate entry-exit. People will be not allowed to enter the pandal without a mask.The state government is also going to provide Rs 50,000 to each Durga puja committee.
Maharashtra has also issued an advisory for the Navratri festival under which there shall be no Garba and Dandiya Mahotsav in the state.
The district administration in Lucknow , gave a total of 52 puja committees permission to set up puja pandals.
Pan-India awareness campaign
Festivals during COVID-19 pandemic have become one of the worrying factors for experts and government officials. The Central government is mulling to start a Pan-India awareness campaign keeping in view of festivals in October and November.
Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan quoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and stated “Jaan hai to Jahan hai”. “We can enjoy festivals only when we are healthy”.