Durga Puja: Inter-locality movement, foot procession during immersion of idols not allowed

Shillong, Oct 9: Movement of people from one locality to another will be restricted during the ensuing Durga Puja, and foot procession will not be allowed during immersion of idols.

“People are encouraged not to venture out of the localities/areas. The Puja Committees may cause wide awareness on restricting inter- locality movement. An appeal to be given to devotees by all Puja Committees so that the members remain in their respective localities/areas. Intensive awareness has to be given by the Puja Committees so that people do not visit more than 1-2 pandals,” a standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by the Meghalaya government said.

A notification signed by chief secretary MS Rao said that persons above 65 years of age, persons with comorbidities, pregnant women and children below the age of 10 years are advised to stay at home. Puja committees are to advise accordingly,” the SOP said.

The protocol outlines various generic precautionary measures to be adopted during Puja celebrations to prevent spread of COVID-19 and has been prepared after due consultation with the Central Puja Committee (CPC), Meghalaya.

The Puja Committees have decided to perform only the rituals of the Puja as per Hindu almanac schedule, the SOP said, adding that all idols should be in one frame and maximum height should not exceed 5 feet.

“Devotees will not be allowed to touch the idols. Puja and offering of Anjali will be regulated by the organizers. No sitting down and partaking of ‘prasad’. Only packed dry Prasad may be distributed among devotees and visitors. There will be no lunch or serving of cooked food,” the SOP specified.

“Pandals are to be kept open to the extent possible to encourage cross-ventilation. As far as practicable, thermal screening at the entrance of the puja pandal should be undertaken. All persons should strictly wear masks at all times. Further, the names and mobile of all persons visiting the pandal should be kept by the Puja Committee, to be used for contact tracing, if and when required,” the SOP read.

“No foot procession will be allowed during immersion of the idols,” the SOP said, adding that “onlookers/bystanders should not be allowed during immersion.