GUWAHATI: Most of the Durga Puja pandals in the State have no arati, no costly illumination, no dhakis (drummers) and some of them are even without idols. On the contrary, each and every puja pandal in the State has sanitizers and water for hand washing, besides non-contact infrared thermometers. A new normal in the making!
Call it response of the general public to the State government's appeal to them to maintain social distancing at all cost during the Durga Puja or social awareness to keep the pandemic at bay, it's a fact that the puja pandals are bereft of their usual throngs of devotees. They look serene.
Even usual shops for sweets and toys and vendors around each and every puja pandal are also bare minimum. As if to cap it all, the inclement weather is out to play the spoilsport. If the wet weather that started on Friday morning continues for the remaining days of the puja, it will spell a damper for the festival.
Appealing to the people of the State afresh on Friday, State Health and Family Welfare Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, "In the past few days the corona curve in the State has been on the fall. If the people of the State remain alert and stay without crowding puja pandals, we'll be able to keep corona at bay. In accordance with the policy adopted by the Centre, the people of Assam will also get corona vaccines free of cost."
Meanwhile, a low-key Mahasaptami marked the onset of the Durga Puja in the State on a dull note on Friday. Without the usual crowds, pomp and gaiety, the pujas in the State have become more ritualistic than celebratory.