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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Cuttack: It seems the Covid pandemic which is yet to show any signs of receding will also play spoilsport on the most joyous part of the year, the festive season at least for people of Odisha. The Ganesh Puja which generally marks the beginning of festive season will not be held in Cuttack this year in view of the pandemic.

With cases of Coronavirus infection rising thick and fast, the Twin City Commissionerate Police along with the Cuttack Puja Committee on Sunday decided against celebrating the Puja of Lord Gajanan this year. The authorities have also expressed apprehension that if the situation does not improve in a month or two, Dussehra festivities might too be cancelled.

Shedding light on the decision, the outgoing Deputy Commissioner of Police of Cuttack, Akhileswar Singh said, "No one will be allowed to perform Ganesh Puja in public places and mandaps this year. However, if somebody wants to celebrate Puja within confines of home, he or she is free to do that.”

“We can’t permit the observance of Puja during this pandemic especially when the government has laid out guidelines prohibiting social gatherings. And appropriate action will be taken against the person found violating the rule,” Singh added.

Speaking about the Dussehra, Singh said, “We have time for that. Nothing has been decided on it as of now. But I would request the Puja Committees to not pay advance money to any supplier in this regard. If the COVID situation doesn’t improve in a month then we will have to rethink about holding Durga Puja this year.”

Devendra Sahoo, Secretary of Chhatra Bazar Traders’ Association in Cuttack said, “We have taken this decision for the greater good of people of Cuttack.”

As far as the observance of Durga Puja is concerned, Puja Committees will be advised to acquire the minimum amount of soil required for ‘Ghata Puja’. And after Janmashtami, the decision will be taken keeping an eye on the COVID situation.”

Similarly, Prabhat Tripathy, the Secretary of Cuttack Mahanagar Puja Committee was also of the same opinion. “We can’t observe Ganesh Puja this year given the government norms for COVID-19. As far as the Dussehra is concerned, I am afraid, we will have to limit the Puja only to ‘Ghata Puja’ if the Coronavirus situation continues to rise.”

“However, no decision on Durga Puja has been taken. We will sit another day to decide on it,” added Tripathy.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)

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