Guwahati: One would be surprised to know that the Durga Puja, the mother of all festivals, is all set to begin tomorrow. This year's puja will be marked by minimal celebrations -- smaller idols, smaller crowds, mask-wearing, and social distancing are bound to be the key features of this year's celebrations.
Gauging the level of threat that could potentially be posed by reckless Durga Puja celebrations, the governments across the nation have issued a set of SOPs that must be followed by the revellers as well as organizers to ensure that "safety" prioritized during the festival.
Although the number of COVID-19 related deaths continue to rise up dramatically, the long-awaited Durga Puja will symbolically be seen as a booster for the devotees. As the COVID-19 related concerns shift to more pressing matters such as generation of jobs and boosting of the ailing economy, Durga Puja is expected to revive the faith, confidence, and overall good vibes. Yet, the emptiness on the streets denotes that people are still very, very afraid.
Although the mega festival usually begins six days after Mahalaya, this year it is going to be different due to mala maas – lunar month having two moons. This year, the Mahalaya, which is the beginning of the Devi Paksha and end of the Pitru Paksha, took place on September 17 and Durga Puja will officially begin from October 22.
It is plain for all to see that the festive atmosphere this year has taken a big hit due to the pandemic. For instance, the markets of Fancy Bazar, one of the busiest localities in the pre-puja season, saw markedly lower footfall this year. Thus, there is reason to believe that the number of people thronging the puja pandals will be also be far lesser this time around.
"I am not feeling any vibes. It is hard to believe that the puja actually begins tomorrow. It is because there is an overall lack of rush on the streets and enthusiasm is also very low due to the prevailing COVID-19 situation," says Tanya Paul, a resident of Assam's Guwahati city.
In the midst of all this, it will be interesting to note if the people keep the COVID-19 restrictions in mind or all the rules and regulations go for a complete toss!
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