The Meghalaya Home Department, along with the Central Puja Committee (CPC) here, has outlined a general SOP to be followed during the ensuing Durga Puja celebrations with several do’s and don’ts.
Apart from maintaining adequate physical distance and wearing masks, elderly people over 65 years of age, pregnant women, persons with comorbidities and children below the age of 10 years have been advised to stay indoors.
No pandals will be allowed to be erected on PWD roads and the pandals must be erected keeping in mind the expected number of visitors. At the entrance to the pandals, hand sanitizers should be placed.
“Pandals are to be kept open to the extent possible to encourage cross-ventilation. As far as practicable, thermal screening at the entrance to the puja pandal should be undertaken. Names and mobile phones of all persons visiting the pandals should be kept by the puja committee,” the SOP read. People have also been advised not to venture out of their localities. They should only visit one to two pandals as far as possible. In this regard, the puja committees will carry out an awareness programme.
“People are encouraged not to venture out of the localities or areas. The puja committees may cause wide awareness on restricting inter-locality movement. Intensive awareness has to be given by the puja committees so that people do not visit more than 1-2 pandals,” a notification issued by Meghalaya Chief Secretary MS Rao said.
It has also been stated that transport facilities should be arranged at the puja pandals for emergency purposes and volunteers should also keep vigil on potentially sick persons. The puja committees have decided to perform only the rituals as per the Hindu almanac and all idols should be in one frame and the maximum height should not exceed five feet.
“Devotees will not be allowed to touch the idols. Puja and offering of anjali will be regulated by the organisers. No sitting down and partaking of prasad. Only packed dry prasad may be distributed among devotees and visitors. There will be no lunch or serving of cooked food,” the SOP specified.
Moreover, the district administration will not allow foot procession during the immersion of the idols and only 15 people will be allowed in a vehicle for the procession. “No foot procession will be allowed during immersion of the idols… and the immersion ritual will be completed by 3 pm,” the notification said.