BHUBANESWAR: Heeding Odisha Government’s call to keep Dussehra a low-key affair this year in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rasulgarh Durga Puja Samiti has decided to celebrate the autumn festival without public participation, pomp and grandeur.
While the puja committee has not collected any donation for holding the puja, it has decided to conduct COVID test of priests and committee members who shall remain present at the mandap during the puja.
The committee will also to create awareness among the public not to visit the pandal in wake of the health pandemic.
Earlier the State Government issued guidelines for the ensuing festivals and instructed that not more than seven persons be allowed in a pandal at one time including the priests, puja committee members and support staff.
Last year, the puja committee had created a floral ‘Indrapuri’ themed pandal which was a 165 ftx70ft structure set up with a whopping Rs 40 lakh expenditure. This year, the committee had also planned an innovative theme and earmarked a budget of Rs 45 lakh but the plan was cancelled following the State Government’s Covid-19 restrictions.
“We welcome the Government decision for a quieter puja and announced to organise it without any pomp and grandeur. We have decided to run an awareness van in our locality to make people aware about the guidelines and request them not to visit the pandal,” said Japan Routray, secretary of the Puja Samiti.
The entire mandap area will be barricaded during the festival period from October 22 to 26 and no devotee will be allowed entry, he informed.
Routray also requested the Government not to revise its decision to allow devotees to pandals which otherwise will make it difficult for them to manage the crowd.
“Lakhs of people visit the pandal for darshan of Maa Durga during the festival. If any revision is made to the guidelines, crowd management would be extremely difficult without deployment of police force,” he said.