SARUPATHAR: The Assam Government has released the COVID-19 guidelines vide order No. HLA 301/2020/120 for organizing Durga Puja, 2020. This year,Durga Puja will be celebrated in the midst of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
The Additional District Magistrate of Golaghat, Roktim Boruah, vide order no. GMJ. 10/2020/Pt-III under section 144 CrPC, has prohibited pillion riding from Panchami till Dashami. Pillion riding will not be allowed for males during the Puja days. Pillion riding will be allowed only for women or children below 15 years only.
Meanwhile, all organizers of the Puja committees must take permission from the district or subdivisional administration for organizing Durga Puja. The pandal should be spacious and must remain open from all sides. Pandals must keep adequate space for the arrangement of physical distancing of at least 1 metre distance. Management must take measures to avoid crowding at all costs and not more than 10 to 30 persons can aggregate at a time depending on the size of the pandal. Well trained committee volunteers wearing masks must be stationed at different points inside the pandal to assist visitors, while the entry and exit gates must be separate.
However, the use of face masks should be mandatory for all visitors in a pandal. Similarly, hand sanitizer must be kept at the entry gate and exit gate of Puja pandals. The Puja pandal campus must be sanitized twice (once in the morning and evening) along with nearby areas as a strict public health measure. All the Puja pandals must be closed for the devotees at 10 PM and the Puja committees have to ensure this strictly.
Dry day is to be declared from the day of Dashami till the immersion process gets over. Restaurants will be closed at 9 PM and only takeaway food should be allowed, subject to relevant permissions from the government. The strict restriction is to be imposed on organizing melas, fairs, roadside shops, setting up of roadside food stall/ temporary restaurant, as these might lead to crowding of people. The government has also ordered that the use of print, electronic and social media must be optimal to generate mass awareness about COVID-19 protocol during Durga Puja.
Like every year, the Prantosh Das Foundation and the Annyapath Gusti will organize a book fair. The book fair will be held in the book stall Santi Pustakalaya in Sarupathar under Dhansiri subdivision. The organizers said, "We will not be able to organize the book fair as we do every year. But we have decided to continue the fair at our book stall in Sarupathar and we have also decided to offer a 10 per cent discount on every book (excluding textbooks) so that children and book lovers can buy books at a discount price."