COVID fallout: Durga Puja committees in Odisha up in arms against festival ban

Cuttack puja committees have expressed strong resentment over the State government’s decision to ban public celebration of Durga Puja for the second consecutive year.

Published: 11th August 2021 08:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th August 2021 10:02 AM   |  A+A-

Durga Puja

Representational Image. (Photo | Sunish P Surendran)

By Express News Service

CUTTACK: Cuttack puja committees have expressed strong resentment over the state government’s decision to ban public celebration of Durga Puja for the second consecutive year.

Secretary of the Cuttack Mahanagar Puja Committee and former BJD MLA Pravat Tripathy questioned the move saying if temples and other religious places were opened for public entry and darshan, why can’t mandaps be allowed to conduct the pujas.

While temples and places of worship are closed perimeters, the mandaps offer darshan in outdoor conditions.

“How is it that darshan of deities in temples and prayers at other religious places can be held within walls in compliance with Covid norms and darshan of deities at mandaps while passing by on the roads outdoors can’t?” Tripathy asked.

ALSO READ | Odisha allows community puja, festivals without congregation amid threat of third wave 

The puja committees agree to the government’s decision of not conducting immersion ceremonies and cultural programmes, but strict restrictions on conduct of the rituals has deeply hurt the people’s religious sentiments, the former legislator said.

The senior BJD leader also voiced opposition to restricting the size of Durga idol at mandaps to four feet and sought explanation on how the height is related to Covid-19 spread.

He said not only the puja committees but also the city’s residents are in no mood to accept the guidelines issued by the Special Relief Commissioner on Monday. 

“Puja and shanti committees of the city will request the State government to relax the restrictions on the height of idols and allow organisers to construct them as usual,” Tripathy said. 

President of Cuttack Mahanagar Shanti Committee Debendra Sahu said last year some puja committees had sought judicial intervention for relaxation of restrictions during the festival.

While it enabled nine puja mandaps in the city to bypass the restrictions on height of idols, the issue had led to discontentment among other organisers. 


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