GUWAHATI: The Health Department has issued an SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) for festivals – the Durga Puja, Lakshmi Puja, Kali Puja and Diwali.
The department has made it crystal clear that the puja committees should perform the rituals only, avoiding crowds. Each Puja Committee should sit with the deputy commissioner and follow the guidelines. The deputy commissioners will issue guidelines.
As per Health Minister Keshab Mahanta, along with the application to the deputy commissioners for holding puja, the puja committees should also submit the lists of their fully-vaccinated (both doses) members. On Panchami day, the priests (pujaris) and volunteers should undergo Covid tests. All puja mandaps should remain open with separate entry and exit points. Sanitisers and masks should be available at the entry points. No devotee without a mask should go inside the puja mandap. The devotees should also take at least one vaccine dose. This clause is not applicable for devotees below 18 years of age.
The minister further said that the puja committees should make arrangements for anjali (paying obeisance), taking prasad etc., to avoid crowding. Daily sanitization of the puja mandap before and after the puja is a must. The puja committees should opt for smaller idols for transportation advantage. The SOP does not allow cultural programmes of any sort, mela etc., during the puja. The DC and puja committees will determine the number of vendors dotted around puja mandaps.
The minister made it clear that as of now the night curfew is from 9 pm. If the situation improves, it may get extended.