What are your plans for Durga Puja in 2021? Will we be able to joyfully celebrate this grant festival this year too?
Durga puja is not just a festival but an emotion to many people in India. It is one of the biggest festivals celebrated in India, specifically in the eastern parts of the country as, this festival denotes the glory of the divine feminine. People gather around the ‘puja mandaps’ and worship goddess Durga. Along with prayers and worship, people meet up with their friends and family and visit the variety of Melas set up for the occasion.
However, Covid 19 seems to have clouded the excitement, raining over the hopes of celebrating this festival with utmost joy. In 2020, the celebration of Durga Puja was observed in a very remote manner, prohibiting large gatherings. The government had to take strict protocols against covid that indeed restricted the commemoration of Durga Puja. People are worried if they will celebrate this grand festival with the same restrictions in 2021 as well.
The biggest celebrations of Durga Puja can be witnessed in West Bengal every year. The sound of dhaak hype up the entire state during this festival. Even after Durga Puja being the main festival of this state, West Bengal was no exception to covid. The government of West Bengal did manage to celebrate this occasion, following the rules and protocols. The Chief Minister of West Bengal did not show any intentions of prohibiting the celebration. Moreover, they doubled the funds to Puja committees, giving permissions to 37,000 puja committees across the state. However, the high court was seen to come into action, laying out guidelines to have a safe celebration.
After West Bengal, Assam is one of the few states where Durga Puja is witnessed on a large scale. It’s one of the biggest celebrations in Assam alongside Bihu. The government of Assam has issued a new set of standard operating procedures (SOP), stating the protocols and guidelines for celebrating Durga Puja in 2021. Assam is reportedly in an endemic state where the covid cases are reducing day by day. Considering the fact that many people in Assam are fully vaccinated, the government has allowed the puja committees to operate only when all the committee members and the related workers have received both doses of their vaccine. Any person above the age of 18 years can visit these mandaps only when they are fully vaccinated. The government has allowed the citizens to celebrate Durga Puja by visiting the beautiful pandals and sending their prayers, however, they have strictly prohibited any fair, shop, or stall.
Even in other parts of India, the plannings of the Navdurga Puja celebration are widely being discussed. The government has decided to allow the commemoration of Navratri and Durga Puja across the country. However, the condition is to follow the guidelines and the protocols laid against covid.
Durga Puja being a festival close to everyone’s heart, it is a delight that people are getting the opportunity to celebrate this occasion amidst covid. India will reportedly face a full-blown endemic state in the first half of 2022 itself. It is a piece of great news for the entire country. The covid condition in 2021 was worse than that of 2020. Many people lost their lives while others lost their near and dear ones. After recovering from such a destructive state, no one wants to go back to such a state again. Indeed, it is a delight to be able to celebrate Durga Puja again, but one must not forget to follow all the protocols and keep themselves and their families safe.