2020 is the year for virtual Durga Puja tours

Wonder what Durga Puja is going to be like this year but do not want to step out to go pandal hopping? The virtual tour is just for you. Even if you are in Kolkata or in another part of the globe unable to travel back to be with your family, there are many puja committees looking to give Bengalis a virtual tour of pandals. In Delhi too, the Bengali community might miss out on visiting CR Park or other local Durga Puja pandals, but virtual tours come to your rescue. Watch the pandal experience on social media or download the pujo app. Coronavirus does not have to play spoilsport.

Let’s look at Kolkata first. In fact there are creative being circulated on whatsapp and social media like this one by Park Circus Beniapukur United Puja Committee, which says, “Puja ebar hete hobe na, net e hobe”(Puja this time will not be by walking, but on the internet.

Another famous pandal Ballygunge cultural in South Kolkata is encouraging people to stay home and not crowd pandals. “We are asking all older persons to avoid crowds. Being a doctor as well, we are asking people to enjoy the 360 digital tour of the pandal. Facebook is our social media partner, we will constantly be giving links. It is better to stay back home and enjoy the puja. Our aim is to make visitors here and in different parts of the country to see puja, the fantastic art installation in any which way. We are avoiding any bhog this year due to pandemic though.” Said Dr.Saptarshi, Organizing Secretary, Ballygunge Cultural Puja. There are no charges for the virtual tour and patrons can get a virtual tour free of cost. Some puja committees however are even charging a nominal cost for a virtual tour.

The upper part of the pandals in most places like in the Ballygunge Cultural pandal, is open for ventilation. The idol is a bit smaller this time too. Lack of time to prepare fancy pandals, budget constraints or social distancing measures being the priority, puja committees are still hoping to give people a festive experience that will make 2020 not a complete washout. Sanitization measures have been taken, there are hand sanitizers, masks are compulsory and physical distancing must be maintained in most of the big pandals.

Rs.50,000 has been given out as grant by the West Bengal government to more than 37,000 puja pandals in the state of which the Calcutta High Court has directed that 75% will be used for COVID-19 safety measures. The onus hence lies on puja committees that have a task at hand apart from ensuring crowd control.

Miles away in Delhi NCR region, the Noida kalibari has said that puja ritual groups like offering Anjali will be organized in small groups of 30 people and that flowers, sweets, fruits will not be permitted. “It is advisable for elderly people above 65 years who are not willing to visit the premises for your own safety reasons, you can enjoy live darshan and offer Anjali via livestream.” Said the whatsapp circular issued by President and Secretary of NBCA. Also pregnant women and children below the age of 10 have been asked to stay at home.

Staying at home no longer means missing out on Durga Puja festivities, but instead playing safe.

 

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