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    Covid-19 on mind, Durga Puja celebrations-a low key affair in Guwahati

    The preparations for Puja begun across the city, albeit at a lower scale this time, as organisers chalk out safety plans to avoid further spread of COVID-19

    Guwahati: With COVID-19 wreaking its devastation across the globe without yet any foreseeable end, following the same traditions in this Durga Puja will be a tad difficult.

    The preparations for the Puja have begun across the city, albeit at a lower scale this time, as organisers chalk out safety plans to avoid further spread of COVID-19.

    Puja Committees in Guwahati said that they will be following all the protocols and guidelines issued by the government. Committees will ensure that people maintain social distance inside pandals and none will be allowed to enter the Pandal without wearing a mask.

    All the priests, committee members and volunteers associated with the Puja have to mandatorily get tested for COVID-19 a day before the Puja starts and a day after it ends.

    Speaking to TIME8, Sandeep Anand, secretary of Athgaon Sarbajanik Durga Puja said, “We will be maintaining every guideline and protocols asked by the government. From making different entry and exit points to sanitising and maintaining social distancing, we will try to maintain everything for the safety of the people.”

    “We are also going to set up scanning machines for the people entering our pandal. Maximum 30 people will be allowed inside the puja pandal at a time, who will have to maintain social distance”, Anand added.

    Earlier, Assam government has issued a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Durga Puja celebration to keep spread of COVID-19 in check.

    The pandals are to be kept open with adequate space and separate entry and exit points, with all visitors and devotees compulsorily wearing face masks and using hand sanitisers.

    A member of Fatasil Puja Committee said that only 30 persons will be allowed inside the puja pandals as directed by the government. “Due to the ongoing pandemic we are more focused on maintaining the safety so we will simply bring an idol and offer Puja.”

    “Earlier we used to distribute Prasad in a large number but this year we will only make Prasad to offer to Maa Durga”, he further added.

    Assistant general secretary of Brihot Kahilipara Sarbajanin Durga Puja Committee, Biswajeet said, “This time we are going to organise the Durga Puja in simple way, no big idols and themed puja due to the coronavirus. Also we will maintain all the guideline and protocols during the puja days.”

    “We will definitely try to maintain social distancing but it also depends on the people visiting the pandals. They will have to ensure to abide by the protocols and enjoy a safe puja”, the general secretary further added.

    The committees also said that they will adhere to the new normal amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while celebrating the festival.

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