Ganpati festival to go virtual during COVID-19 pandemic

Ganpati festival to go virtual during COVID-19 pandemic
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Kolkata: Setting a new trend a community puja organiser in the city will organise a virtual Ganpati festival this year in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The club, which organises one of the largest community Ganaptai pujas in West Bengal, has junked its plans for a theme-based festival and opted to go virtual with the contagion and its protocol in mind.

Salt Lake Yuvak Sangha president Anindya Chatterjee told PTI that the decision not to erect a marquee nor allow any visitor was taken after the second phase of lockdown was announced.

"We decided that virtual darshan would be the only alternative to avert any threat of contamination rather than not holding the puja at all this year," he added.

The puja falls on August 22 this year. No total lockdown has been announced on that date though there will be lockdown in containment zones till August 31. Parts of Salt Lake where the club is situated falls within the containment zone.

"We don't want to take away the joy of festivities of the people, their joy of attending the arati or offering puja.

We will stream the rituals of our Ganesha puja live on Facebook which can be seen on mobiles and smart TV screens at homes," he said.

In keeping with this, the theme of the club's Ganesha puja in its eleventh year is 'Grihokone Vinayak' (Ganapati at home), he said.

"Every year, we come up with different themes for the puja and put up grand pandals besides a km-long illumination by experts from Chandernagore. This year in view of the situation we have plans to put up a giant screen near the PNB Island crossing in Salt Lake so that people can see the idol maintaing the social distancing norm. We will go ahead with this only after discussing with local administration," Chatterjee said.

The idol, which is being made by a clay modeller from Kumartuli area in the city, will be kept in a hall. Only the priest and very few members of the puja committee, who will assist him in the rituals, will be allowed in. They will wear masks and regularly sanitise their hands.

"There will be live streaming of the rituals. The inauguration, darshan, aarti, pushpanjali and all other rituals can be seen by logging in to the Facebook page of the puja committee," Chatterjee said.

The organsiers have also kept options open for devotees to register their names and 'gotras' for offering puja and home delivery of prasad.

Each devotee will be alloted separate time slot for offering puja and should log in before the time specified for them. The person will be required to book his/her time days before the festival by contacting the puja authorities on the internet or by visiting the puja committee office.

"We will arrange the puja for the devotee but no cut fruit will be allowed. We will engage an online food aggregator for sending the prasad to the devotee who resides within the city limits or Salt Lake, New Town areas," he said.

Devotees from faraway places will have to collect the prasad at his/her convenience, he added.