No public viewing allowed in Durga Puja pandals, idols to be less than 4 ft high
Bhubaneswar: Durga Puja pandals in Odisha will not be open for public viewing this year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and only rituals are to be performed without pomp and grandeur, according to the guidelines issued by the State Government on Thursday. The Government also restricted the height of idols to less than 4 feet and barred the use of loudspeakers at pandals, as per the guidelines issued Chief Secretary A K Tripathy.
The norms will also be applicable to Laxmi Puja, Kali Puja and other festivities to be celebrated over the next three months, as per an official order. Puja shall be conducted in indoor-like condition only for observance of rituals without public participation, pomp and grandeur, it said.
“The pandals shall be covered on three sides. The 4th side shall also be covered in a way not to allow any public view of the idols. There shall be no darshan by public/devotees,” it added. At any given point of time, there shall not be more than seven persons, including organisers and priests, in the puja pandals, the guidelines said.
The guidelines are issued based on an order of the Orissa High Court.
The organisers will have to obtain permission from local authorities and police for the pandals. The persons present in a puja pandal shall follow all COVID-related protocols such as social distancing, wearing of masks and personal hygiene in letter and spirit, as per the guidelines.
There will be no immersion procession and the idols will be immersed in artificial ponds to be created by the local administration for the purpose, the Government said. There shall be no musical or any other entertainment programme, it said.
In case of any violation, strict action will be taken under Disaster Management Act, 2005 and Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, besides Section 188 of the IPC (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) and other legal provisions as applicable, the order said.