Durga Puja 2020 : Celebration In Times Of Coronavirus Pandemic

Will Durga Puja happen in 2020, the question all Bongs are asking. Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal has finally opened up on Durga Puja. She has said cryptically that Durga Puja is near, and we have to be safe to celebrate it. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, from the Olympics to IPL, all major events are rescheduled across the world. With Corona cases near to 3 lakhs, Mumbai's most visited Ganesh Pandal Lalbaughcha Raja did not celebrate Ganeshotsav this year. This news has brought huge concern among Bengalis. 

Will Durga Puja Happen In 2020?

 The IISc study suggests that going by the better scenario, the Covid-19 peak could come by the second week of September or by October in India. At such a time, people will prefer to play it safe and stick to minimal social contact.

Durga Puja Date And Time

Durga Puja 2020

This year Durga Puja date is scheduled from 22nd October - 26th October. Durga Puja is no longer just a religious event. It has economic importance. It generates employment and contributes to 10 percent of Bengal GDP. The heavy blow is for people like priests, idol-makers, electricians, and pandal designers who are economically dependent on Durga Puja. Bengali Dhaki - The Traditional Drummer Who Amplifies The Festive Mood In Durga Puja relies on the festival for his livelihood. The Bengali Film industry also expects better collections during the celebration. Last year only seven Bengali movies were released.  While the movie business has moved from multiplex to the OTT platform, there is no other option for artisans.

Kumartuli Artisans Severely Affected

Kumartuli artisans who prepare idols are severely affected. First, their half-made Idols damaged during the Amphan cyclone, and now in lockdown, they are getting few orders. Hot debates are already going on on social media, whether we should celebrate Puja this year. While some think that it must be held in a small manner as we also have to protect the artist community. Others are firmly against it and do not want it this year. 

No Theme Puja In Kolkata

Mudiali Club theme Durga Puja Pandal
Mudiali Club theme

Mudiali Club, a famous Puja organizer in South Kolkata, has decided that this time there will be no theme puja, and they will donate funds to the CM relief fund.  They are planning to organize on a small scale with the help of locals. Some puja organizers have also expressed concern over sponsors. Puja committees have reduced their budget to half as sponsors have also reduced their fundings.

Bonedi Bari Will Continue Their Traditions

Bonedi Bari(Traditional Puja at home) has decided to go ahead with their tradition and will do a small scale puja at home. They will follow the government order to control or curb the crowd. Some have also decided to do only Kalash Puja. Given the current situation, they do not want any outsiders on their premises. The iconic Sovabazar Rajbari (First Durga Puja Celebration at Kolkata) (Chotto Rajbari) will remain close for visitors this year.

Social Distancing Is A Major Challenge

Kolkata Durga Puja Pandal
Kolkata Durga Puja

Last year Kolkata metro recorded the highest footfall with over 9 lakh passengers during Puja. People use the metro and buses for Pandal hopping. Also, people from suburban areas reach Kolkata on local trains. With about 2-3 lakh footfalls per day in a puja pandal, managing social distancing will be a big challenge for the administration.

While the flight rates are already high during Durga Puja, it has become more of an individual choice to celebrate or not. 

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