Vivekananda Sporting Club in Girish park maintained its ritual of welcoming the deity with a dandiya dance performed by local women. The club continued the ritual even on Thursday with only eight women, all clad in PPE. “We respect the court order but didn’t want to break the tradition. Hence, sticking to the court guideline, fewer women participated in the programme and all of them wore PPE,” said Goutam Bose, the club secretary.
Even before the court order, Chetla Agrani had made all the changes to ensure minimal crowding at the pandal that has been kept open on three sides, visible even to those travelling in a car along the road. Post the order, they have shut down the park gate and limited entry for club members, too. “In earlier years, several people used to complaint that they couldn’t see our idol because of the crowd. This year, even we don’t want crowding and have made the pandal in such a way that its visible for everyone,” said Babu Samanta, the club treasurer.
Partho Ghosh of Sib Mandir on Lake Temple Road said this was a new puja experience. “But for me, it is evoking nostalgia, almost a journey back in time to the 1970s and 1980s when life during the festival was less stressful. I am spending time with my family. In the afternoon and again in the evening, there are adda sessions lined up among club members. For the past three decades, this has been unthinkable. Police have taken on the responsibility of enforcing Covid protocols.”
Even for celebrities, who generally have a hectic schedule during the Pujas, this is a welcome change. “For the first time in many years, I am being able to spend the puja with my family and my two pet dogs. I miss the grandeur but I couldn’t have asked for a better time to be with the family,” said Mimi Chakraborty, actor and Jadavpur MP.
Percussionist Bickram Ghosh, who judges multiple puja contests and takes part in inaugurations every year, is also spending time at home with his wife and kids. “I have sorted out the books I am going to finish in these festive days and catch up on some much-needed sleep,” said Ghosh.