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Ramakanta Biswas

Cuttack: In a major development, the district administration of Cuttack has reportedly given permission to Puja Committees in the Silver City to celebrate Durga Puja without devotees.

District Collector Bhabani Shankar Chayani said goddess Durga can be worshipped at different pandals without devotees just like deities are worshipped in temples. However, permission will not be granted for community celebration of the festival in view of Covid-19 pandemic.

"We will not allow community celebration of Durga Puja that may see a huge congregation of people. However, there is no prohibition for individual celebration of the festival," Chayani said.

The Collector further said that there is no restriction on the making of Durga idol. "Usually permission for idol making is not sought. The puja committees seek permission for the congregation. So there will not be any restriction on the making of idols," he added.

The members of the puja committees in the Silver City welcomed the decision of the district administration and assured to celebrate the festival by following all the guidelines.

Pradeep Sahu of Mangla Puja Committee said, “We had earlier urged the district administration to reconsider the decision. We thank the Collector for allowing the festival. We will organise the festival by following all the guidelines.”

“I welcome the revised decision of the district Collector. However, it would have been more appropriate, had the Collector taken the decision after consulting with the peace committee members,” said a member of Manglabag Puja Committee.

Notably, a petition was filed in the Orissa High Court by Cuttack Balu Bazaar Puja Committee, which is one of the oldest Puja committees in the Silver City, seeking permission to hold Durga Puja this year. The committee members had assured the court that the festival will be celebrated with strict adherence to social distancing and other safety guidelines in force in view of the pandemic.

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