Guwahatians Celebrate Mellowed Durga Puja With a Heavy Heart
2020 is a different year altogether. With just two months remaining, nothing can shock anyone anymore; for almost every occurance this year has been ‘unprecedented’.
And unsurprisingly, the much-anticipated celebration of the year, Durga Puja is also a mellower affair.
It’s Maha ashtami today, the rituals and prayers are being performed as usual. The loudspeakers are buzzing even louder in every pandal with the Durga Slokas, trying to comp
ensate for the low-key celebrations. But nothing seems to lift up the mellowed vibes.
After all, never had one imagined celebrating Durga Puja in such a subtle way.
Pandals known for their creativity and grandeur like Latasil, Nayantara, Lakhi Mandir, Santipur, Geetanagar, and others have either installed a 3 to 3.5 feet miniature idol of the Devi or are performing 'ghot-puja'.
With West Bengal completely infected by the dreaded virus, acquiring decorations from there was restrained. Hence the usual fanfare and glitter that Durga Puja is identified with are nowhere to be seen.
Guwahatians seem to be following Covid-19 protocols with a heavy heart. While there is the virus to worry about and with limited finances, the low key pandals and decorations are understandable, many are also of the opinion that the committees could have utilized local resources and promoted the local artists.
“I understand it’s important that we keep the celebrations limited. But all around everyone has procured the same small idol. People are aware and cautious of the virus. The Puja committees get so much donations. So what if they have not collected donations directly this year, devotees are anyways giving. I did pay my annual donation amount for instance. It’s a matter of faith for many. So why couldn’t they do a bit more,” said Utpal Deka of Zoo Road.
Citizens have pointed out that the pandemic had provided a great opportunity to promote the local artisans and they could have been supported financially if rather than keeping things such low-key, their products were used.
“Had we taken this change to help them, we might as well have taken the first step to establishing Assam as a market for puja decorations. Why should we always be dependent on Kolkata and flush out all our finances every year? Since Assam's Durga Pujas are equally majestic, it’s time we have our own market,” said Hiren Talukdar from Santipur.
With no pandal hopping, no street food, and limited places to enjoy, the puja holidays seem to be just a shadow of the lockdown.
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