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No signs of govt. SOP yet; Organisers in Silchar worried, underprepared with just a month left for Durga Puja

Durga Puja starts from 11th of October, which gives a little over a month’s time for the preparations of this year’s Sharodiya Utsav. Though the comment made by the CM of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma about allowing the celebrations with covid protocols in place has brought some amount of relief to people across all classes but the absence of a clear guideline from the government till now is creating a lot of confusions within puja organizers who are not being able to finalize on anything.

While speaking to some organizers about their plans for this year’s puja, we found out that most have scaled down their celebrations while many are yet to call for a meeting to decide on various things. Speaking to Barak Bulletin, Shankar Roy of the Kalibari Road Sarbojanin Durga Puja Committee, Udharbond, who in the past years has curated the grandest of the celebrations in the valley tells us, “We are awaiting the SOP by the authorities before we make any final call. We have scaled down the celebrations and this year it will be more like the Puja of the neighbourhood. Our pandal will be at max having a height of 40-45 feet and we have already placed an order for our idol which will be of a very medium size.” Once working with a budget of a massive 25 lakh rupees, the team has now had to cut down to around 5-6 lakh rupees for this year. Roy also informs us that they are looking into ways to let the devotees see and experience the celebrations digitally and will also not advertise and invite a lot of crowd to their puja premises.

Akashdeep Paul from the Purba Para Durga Puja Committee, Silchar says, “We have already had meetings for this year and we are trying to follow almost all guidelines of the last year in preparing for Druga Puja, 2021. Last year we had shifted our location because of various restrictions and issues, but this year we are trying to bring back the Puja closer to our original location at the junction. We won’t be building pandals on roadside and will do it at premises nearby though we will conduct the ‘Shoshti Pujo’ at our traditional location. We try to keep something special for every time and this year too we are trying to do the same while maintaining covid appropriate behaviour.”

The committee in adherence with previous year’s SOP has already placed the order for their idol which according to Paul will be an attraction for this year. They are also trying to come up with some cultural programs and have been talking about the same. Paul also tells us, “The covid has brought in a big problem for everyone financially and we will also change our approach in fundraising keeping this issue in mind. No one will be forced to pay more donations than they want to.”

Tarapur Sharbojonin Durga Puja Committee, Silchar or more famously known as the puja of the Rice Mill in Tarapur is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee year this year. One of the organisers Saibal Dutta tells us with dismay, “All of our plans for a grand 75th year have gone into waste. We are still awaiting the Govt. SOP and our celebrations will be more for the name sake.”

Though they will have the celebrations at the same location of theirs, the scale will be nothing like that of previous years, let aside that of a Diamond Jubilee year. Similarly Chowringhee Durga Puja Committee in Ambicapatty, Silchar too is planning not to have grand celebrations and restrict it to more like a ‘Parar Pujo’. Nirupam Gupta speaking on behalf of the committee tells us that they have not yet had a meeting and the Puja will happen in a very peaceful and dedicated way. There won’t be any pandal on the roadside and the celebrations will be indoors like last year.

It is pretty clear by now that the mega festival in the autumns won’t be of the regular scale here in Barak Valley and its understood even from the financial point of view. But, clarity from the side of the Government within due course of time is the least that the organizers are asking for now so that they can conduct a festival which will live up to the spirit and at the same time maintain covid appropriate behaviours.

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