The Odisha government in its new guidelines on Monday allowed the Puja Committees across the State to conduct mass festivals like Durga puja in mandaps and pandals but without the participation of devotees. The restrictions which have come as spoilsport to the festive delight for the second year in a row have now irked devotees and organisers in the Millennium City of Cuttack.
As per the guidelines, Puja Committees have been asked to strictly confine the height of the idols to 4 feet. However, puja committees coming under the jurisdiction of Cuttack Municipal Corporation Puja have opposed the decision.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the pronouncement, the Cuttack Puja Committees' President and BJD leader Prabhat Tripathy has shot questions to the government to explain how reducing the idol's size will reduce COVID impact.
Tripathy said the government should take the decision considering the religious sentiments of people. Relaxing the COVID restrictions will not lead to the unprecedented spread of the pandemic.
As per the instructions laid out by the Special Relief Commissioner, puja pandals/mandaps shall also be covered from three sides. The 4th side shall also be covered in a way not to allow any public view of the idols. There shall be no darshan by public/ devotees.
The govt directive also states that, at any given point of time, there shall not be more than 7 persons including organisers (Kartas) and priests and support staff present at the puja pandals/mandaps.
BJD leader Tripathy while briefing media said, "I don't get it, how limiting the idol size will help in controlling COVID spread. Such a decision has drawn fire from different quarters. I think the govt has just passed on the previous year's instructions. It could have been sensible had the government taken the decision using logic."
Meanwhile, Dharmesh Nayak, Deputy Chairman of Cuttack Mahanagar Shanti Committee, said, "We are dissatisfied with such a decision of the govt. Shanti committee comprises of 140 puja pandals/mandaps and if over a half of the total pandals are expressing dissatisfaction, we will certainly have to present their views to the govt. We strongly condemn the new SOP and request the government to rethink over the decision. "