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Big Budget committees indicate Durga Puja 2020 to be a "low key affair"

“Asche Bochhor Abar Hobe” with this Bengali axiom, the ‘Pujo’ extravaganza ended last year. Little did anyone know that 2020 may bring a silent celebration of Durga Puja. One of the most unusual and unanticipated years in history, 2020 is set to leave its stamp on the upcoming Sharod Utsav. As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread in the community infecting more people and claiming more lives, the Durga Puja Committees are forced to change their plans.

With little more than 2 months remaining for the Bengali’s most waited ‘Sharod Utsav’, many have started pondering whether this year’s puja will be a high decibel action-packed festival of light like earlier years or a muted-subtle-dark affair with only a few people performing the rituals.

Well, until now, there have been no directives or advisories from the government regarding Durga Puja 2020. Puja committees are cutting their budget apart from being clueless as to how the scenario will unfold post the lockdown. In most cases, the puja committees have not ordered for idols yet whereas it happens to be peak time.

“Two-three months in advance we start receiving orders and with that our preparations begin. But there is no rush to make idols this time. Many Basanti Puja idols are also left in artisans shop as many committees canceled puja at last moment pertaining to the lockdown, bringing financial crunch on us,” said idol maker in Silchar, Gopal Paul.

Many Puja organisers in the city have informally decided to hold celebration this year on a smaller scale.

“We called for a meeting and came to a decision that this year puja will be a smaller one, strictly adhering to govt guidelines. We will sit for another meeting soon and thereafter will reach out to Udharbond Circle Office asking for guidelines,” says Shankar Roy from the Udharbond Kalibari Road Durga Puja Committee. Adding that ‘Big Budget’ puja will not be feasible this time as it necessitates preparation to begin from month of April.

This is the same Puja committee that built a giant Titanic last year and has established itself as the biggest attraction in Barak Valley. “Pandal will not be extravagant this year. We will set one up, but just to carry out rituals. Theme puja needs parties to be contacted in Baishak(mid-April) and its time over now,” Roy added.

Ambikapur Purbopara O Hospital Road Durga Puja Committee, which observed centenary celebrations last year, has not decided yet on this year’s plans. The spokesperson of Dakshin Bilpar Durga Puja Committee says “Puja will definitely happen but a muted one.”

“Compared to huge pandal other years, which used to be a great attraction for devotes within the city, this year will be a smaller one. We were supposed to celebrate diamond jubilee this year but have to drop the plan owing to the pandemic,” informs Bireshwar Bhattacherjee from the Bilpar Puja Committee.

Resonating similar views with the first committee on government guidelines, Bhattacherjee said they have not received anything from administration but whatever the guidelines might be, they will follow it on “letter and spirit.”

“As the puja will be a simple affair, the committee will not collect any contribution (chanda) this time. The devotees of Maa Durga themselves can donate on their choice.”

Goddess Durga devotees wait with bated breath and look forward to her arrival. Larger-than-life Pandals that showcase the craftsmanship of the artisans, along with lighting, are set up all around the city to house the deities. However, this year, organizers are bound to keep the celebrations “low-key” owing to the pandemic.

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