Durga Puja

The Assam government on Wednesday issued a new SOP for the coming Durga Puja and other festivals celebrated in the autumn season.

The new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was issued by the health department of the Assam government as the state gears up to celebrate Durga Puja, Kali Puja and Diwali.

The SOP will be implemented as precautionary measures to keep the Covid19 situation in the state under control during the festival period, said Assam health minister Keshab Mahanta while addressing a press conference at Janata Bhawan on Wednesday.

Also read: WTI veterinarian removes fishing hook swallowed by endangered turtle in Assam

According to the SOP, each district administration will hold an early meeting with the puja committees or organising committees which celebrate Durga Puja festival every year in their respective districts to inform them about the Covid protocol related to puja.

Puja can be organized with the prior permission of the district administration and in full compliance with the Covid rules.

The district administration has to be informed in advance while seeking permission from the organizing committees on how many people are likely to attend the puja.

Also read: Assam police arrests transgender who ‘harassed’ woman journalist

The place of worship has to be quite wide and kept open from some sides.

There should be plenty of space in each puja place or puja mandap to follow the Covid rules of a minimum physical interval between any two persons or visitors, minister Mahanta said.

Special arrangements must be taken at puja mandap or puja sites.

There should be separate arrangements for entry and exit to the puja site or puja mandap.

The organizers must make arrangements for guards from the entrance to the exit.

The puja site or puja mandap will not be allowed to attract large numbers of people at the same time.

The organizers must deploy adequate volunteers to ensure that visitors enter the puja mandap following Covid protocol in an orderly manner.

If any symptoms of suspected Covid infection are observed in a person at the place of worship or pandal, the organizing committee should immediately look into the matter with the district administration and shift the concerned person to the nearest Covid examination centre.

Every official member of the organizing committee, volunteers, worshippers as well as devotees must receive at least one shot of the Covid19 vaccine.

“No one, including volunteers, worshippers or visitors, who have not been vaccinated, will be able to get entry into the mandap,” health minister Mahanta said.

At least only those, who have been vaccinated with a single dose of Covid19 vaccine, can come to the puja mandap.

No one above 18 years of age, who has not been vaccinated, will be able to enter the puja mandap.

The volunteers will ensure that visitors follow the Covid19 rules of wearing masks, sanitising hands and avoiding minimum physical gaps and will also follow this rule themselves.

The organizers will carry out such action by dividing the Anjali offering, prasad distribution, evening aarti into small groups of few people to maintain Covid protocol.

The organizers will ensure through volunteers that visitors inside the pandal are not waiting at the same place and moving in one direction.

The organizer must sanitize the puja site or mandap twice every day, before the entry of visitors and after the visitors stop entering the mandap at night.

“The puja committees will not be allowed to organise cultural nites or any entertainment programme at the puja mandap,” health minister Mahanta further said.