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Durga Puja in Delhi to go online; home delivery of prasad, COVID-19 test for priests planned

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New Delhi, Oct 19: Online darshan, home delivery of prasad and COVID-19 test for priests and cooks are some of the unique measures that Durga Puja organisers in the national capital have come up with to safely host the festival in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.

Durga Puja in Delhi to go online; home delivery of prasad, COVID-19 test for priests planned

Some organisers said they will rope in two priests to avoid any last-minute scrambling if the main priest gets infected with COVID-19, while others plan to maintain a record of visitors for easy contact-tracing. Most Durga Puja committees in Delhi have decided not to allow entry of people and limit physical darshan to their members only.

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The Chittaranjan Park Kali Mandir Society, which organises one of the biggest Durga puja festival in Delhi, has decided not to allow entry of general public to the temple premises this year due to COVID-19. It has tied up with a DTH service provider and a local cable operator so that devotees can have a darshan of Durga idol from their houses. The temple society also has plans to facilitate online darshan on its Facebook page and YouTube channel.

"Around 2.5 lakh people attend our Durga Puja. Due to COVID-19, we have decided to organise the festival in a simple manner this year. Only a few members of our management committee will be in attendance. "We have hired certified cook to prepare prasad and he has to show negative COVID-19 report.

As devotees will not be allowed, we will deliver prasad at their doorsteps within a 2-km radius for which an agency has been engaged," Society Joint Secretary Prodip Ganguly said. Ganguly said there will be live telecast of aarti and devotees can can offer 'pushpanjali' from their homes with all rituals being live streamed.

The size of Durga idol this year is just 5 ft, against the usual 12 to 14 ft every year, he added. Purbanchal Bangiyo Samiti, an umbrella body of 38 Durga puja committees in East Delhi, said only 10 members of each committee will be allowed to have darshan at a time and they have to register their entry to the pandal so that contact-tracing can be easy.

"In view of the pandemic, Durga idol will be worshipped in 13 temples while 12 committees will organise only 'Kalash' puja," Samiti General Secretary Mrinal K Biswas said, adding, "We have also decided to hire two priests due to COVID-19. If the main priest gets infected, the other can perform the puja." He said social-distancing will strictly be adhered to and people without face masks won't be allowed entry to the premises while alcohol-based hand sanitisers would be available both inside and outside temples.

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Delhi Durga Puja Charitable and Cultural Committee in Kashmiri Gate, which claims to be organising Durga puja in the city for 111 years, will conduct COVID-19 test on the six labourers engaged in building pandals. Committee General Secretary Robin Bose said this time, they would conduct 'kalash' puja and entry of devotees will be very limited. The devotees will be encouraged to download the Aarogya Setu app in their mobile phones, he added.

Mata Mandir Sarbojanin Durga Samity will also not allow "outsiders" and only committee members will be permitted to the puja. Chief coordinator Debashis Saha said devotees can have darshan on the committee's Facebook page. Meanwhile, a meeting of Durga puja committees of Chittaranjan Park, Greater Kailash 1 and 2, Alaknanda amd Kalkaji was convened by Greater Kailash MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj at CR Park Kali Mandir on Monday and it was that Durga puja celebrations in these areas will be suspended this year due to the pandemic. Chittranjan Park Kali Mandir Society's joint secretary said that those pujas, which used to be held in housing societies and streets every year, will not be held this time.

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