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Tripura issues fresh puja guidelines

An artisan giving final touches to idols of Goddess Durga and her ensemble, in Agartala on Monday. – Photo: Agartala Correspondent
 AGARTALA, Oct 19 - With Durga Puja round the corner, the state government has issued 17 more stringent guidelines for puja organisers to contain the novel coronavirus infection. Antigen test has been made a must for puja organisers, priests and volunteers by Panchami (October 22) and covid-testing teams will be available in all the big budget puja pandals, according to an official memorandum considered as Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).

 There would be no community puja in the containment zones this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the festival may be celebrated at home. If a pandal hopper develops Covid-19 symptoms, he or she would not be allowed to enter the mandap. Procession and dance during puja days would be strictly prohibited as part of the SOP. The priests will have to chant prayer on loudspeakers so that people’s gathering could be avoided during the puja days and only a limited number of devotees (10/15) will be allowed to offer prayer (Anjali). Persons aged 65 and beyond, pregnant women, children aged below 10 years have been advised not to visit the pandals during the festival, said the SOP, adding that fairs near puja mandap is also banned.

The puja organisers will have to arrange CCTV coverage in and around the pandal and are dutybound to share footage in case of any need. Maintaining physical distancing and mask are also must for the pandal hoppers.

Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb while flagging off the first-ever police intercepting vehicles to control road rage, said the government has no plan to impose night curfew during the puja days.

“As of now, the government has no plan to impose curfew or night curfew during Durga Puja. The state is in a better position in the battle against the covid pandemic, but there should not be any complacency. I appeal to the people as well as puja organisers to maintain covid guidelines in order to control spread of novel coronavirus,” he said.

In the meantime, the All Tripura Govt Doctors’ Association (ATGDA) also urged the people to celebrate puja in a most restricted way to avoid explosion in covid cases. The state has registered 328 covid deaths and has 2,857 active cases while the total number of infection has touched 26,199.

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