‘No-Entry’ Order Partially Eased by Calcutta HC During Durga Puja In WB But Silent On Pushpanjali, Sindoor Khela

A Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata.

AHEAD of the Durga puja festivities, The Calcutta High Court has partially eased its order that declared Durga Puja pandals “no-entry zones” for visitors amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. The court on Wednesday allowed entry of up to 45 organisers at a time. Dhakis, part and parcel of Bengal’s most popular fest, will be allowed to perform just outside the no-entry zone. However, for visitors, the pandals are still out of bounds. Four hundred top Durga Puja organisers had approached the court on Tuesday under their umbrella body Durgotsava Forum unofficially patronized by several ruling party’s bigwigs, petitioning the  HC for modification of its order delivered by a 2-judge bench. The court on Monday also asked organisers to put up barricades outside pandals — five meters from the entrance for smaller celebrations and double that for the bigger ones.  it stressed the “list of persons allowed should be fixed on a daily basis”. These lists will be put outside the pandals every day at 8 am.  While the larger pandals – which have an area of more than 300 sq metre – can list up to 60 organisers, not more than 45 can be allowed at a time, the court said. The smaller pandals can list up to 15 organisers. The court did not pass any order on pleas for permission for “Anjali” or the ritual worship of Goddess Durga. Trinamool MP Kalyan Banerjee, appearing for  Durgotsav Forum in the HC, had appealed to the court to allow the Pushpanjali to be performed in phases by locals to avoid crowding. He had also urged the court to give permission for another ritual – Sindoor Khela before the idols of Durga Maa are taken out for immersion as medics and other health experts have expressed concerns over the surging crowds out on the streets in Bengal shopping, without observing precautions like distancing or masks. More than 6,000 people have died as of now.

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