New Delhi: Delhi will see muted festivities and celebrations during the upcoming festive season this year, keeping in mind the Covid-19 pandemic that has been on the rise in the national capital.

Several organisers who organise big Durga Puja pandals in the city on sprawling grounds pulling huge crowds, have cancelled their plans of celebrations and festivities for this year to ensure that the spread of the Covid-19 infection is arrested.

Delhi has around 100 Durga Puja committees spread across the city and these committees organise huge pandals with different themes on display each year. The pandals are erected for a period of six days for celebrations and festivities, some with traditional hues, while others display their creativity. These pandals which are usually on sprawling grounds are a huge crowd-puller with organisers arranging different dance and music festivals each evening.

But this year, almost all Durga Puja organisers have decided to cancel their plans to erect pandals and instead most of these organisers have chosen to conduct ghat puja, “kalash puja”, instead of installing huge idols of Goddess Durga, to ensure that people do not throng their puja premises in large numbers.

Organisers have also taken to technology to reach out to the people and engage them during the festive period. Tirthankar Bhowmick, Secretary of the Paschim Vihar Bengali Association, that organises a huge Durga Puja festival, told The Sunday Guardian that this year, they have decided to conduct only “ghat puja” instead of the traditional way of installing an idol of goddess Durga to conduct the six-day rituals.

“This year, we have decided to keep the Durga Puja celebrations low key because of the Covid-19 pandemic. There will be no idol of goddess Durga this year and no one will be allowed inside the temple premises where the puja will be conducted. The Puja will be conducted as per the ritual and we have decided to do Ghat Puja; we will keep a photo of Goddess Durga. We have decided to live stream the entire puja on Facebook and YouTube. Even for Pushpanjali, none will be allowed inside the temple, as the Puja will be live-streamed, devotees can offer Pushpanjali from their homes as the priest will direct every ritual over live stream,” Tirthankar Bhowmick said.

Chittaranjan Park (CR Park) in south Delhi, which is often referred to as “mini Kolkata”, is also going to witness a silent Durga Puja this year unlike what it is going to be in West Bengal.

CR Park has 19 Durga Puja Committees that organise different Durga Pujas in the area and all of them have cancelled their plans for celebrations this year.

The only Durga Puja that is going to take place in CR Park would be the oldest one which is organised by the CR Park Kali Mandir Society.

But then again, this year even this Durga Puja in CR Park would be devoid of people and the usual pomp and show. The organisers have decided to install a small four feet Durga idol this year compared to the huge Durga idols which are otherwise installed everywhere.

The entire six days of celebrations are  going to be a low-key affair in the “mini Kolkata” area which houses a huge Bengali population. Sreebash Bhattacharya, Secretary of the CR Park Kali Mandir Society, told The Sunday Guardian that this year, no one will be allowed inside the mandir premises. Only a core member team of 30 members, which includes the priest, the dhaki and some members of the society would be allowed.

“Due to the pandemic, we have decided not to allow any people in the mandir premises to avoid crowding. The entire puja will be live streamed on various social media pages where devotees can witness the rituals. We are also not allowing any kind of offerings, no bhog will also be distributed this year and anyone who wishes to avail the bhog service can do so by making an advance booking and the bhog will be home delivered,” Sreebash Bhattacharya said.

The organisers at CR Park are also planning to conduct some festivities online which includes singing, painting and dancing competitions which will be conducted over Zoom and other such video streaming platforms.