KOLKATA: Unlike the last few years when nearly all big pujas immersed their idols on Trayodashi or Chaturdashi, this year, most will do so on Dashami or Ekadashi. While the immersions would anyway be earlier than usual this year, following the cancellation of the carnival on Red Road, organizers have decided to wind things up early since there is a dearth of enthusiasm among pandal-hoppers after the Calcutta High Court order that led to the closure of public access to several big-ticket pujas.
“Given the Covid situation and the restrictions to avert a spike in infection, the spirit of Durga Puja is missing this year. Had the guidelines been issued earlier, many organizers would have done the pandals and idols differently so that they could be viewed from a reasonable distance. But now that it is primarily a private affair involving organizers and a few locals, the general consensus is to do the immersion early,” said Bosepukur Sitala Mandir general secretary Kajal Sarkar, who is also president of the Forum for Durgotsav that has around 353 members.
Another factor that has led to the decision is expenditure. “Each additional day costs a committee Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 since pujas must be performed till immersion. That means paying more to priests, dhakis and security guards apart from electricity charges. “We would have gone for the immersion on Dashami, but decided to wait till Ekadashi morning to avoid crowds at the ghat,” said Partho Ghosh of Sib Mandir, adding that the feeling among committee members is to conclude the rituals at the earliest.
Alerted about the rush on Dashami and Ekadashi, Kolkata Municipal Corporation said it had made necessary arrangements at all major immersion ghats along the Hooghly, including Bajekadamtola (Babughat), Judges Ghat and Nimtolla Ghat, where more than 50% of the city’s idols — nearly 2,000 —are immersed.
With idols smaller this time, KMC parks department is also organizing immersion at major ponds, in places like Patuli, Layelka, Ranidighi and Anandapur.