Pandals Become a No-Entry Zone: Durga Puja 2020 Takes a Virtual Turn

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A centre of education. A hub of culture. A home in the truest sense of the term.

Kolkata is many things to many people but the city is incomplete without the vibrant celebrations and festivals. With Durga Puja around the corner, plans of ‘pandal hopping’ have already been made just like every other year!

But 2020 has painted a different picture for the City of Joy.

The Calcutta High Court has instructed every puja organizer to declare their pandals as a ‘No-Entry Zone’. Access is to be limited to the organizers themselves and a selected handful of visitors. In light of the same, those pandals will also need to display these names outside.

This decision made on the 19th of October has marked a huge change to tradition.

The overwhelming crowds, the bedazzling lights and music (not to mention the appetizing food) have always contributed to the memories. Of course, this begins with ‘Shasthi’ – the sixth day of Navratri where noticeable changes come into play. Whether the traditional charm of the North or the vibrant nature of the South, several parts of the city begin to show signs of the arrival of Durga Puja.

But this year will not be the same. It’s all about staying safe and protected against the threat of COVID-19. Against this backdrop, the celebrations are geared to reduce in numbers as gatherings are not welcome. However, this has led to something new – Puja organizers are making the most of technology and are trying to make Puja accessible to all!

Capturing the Extravagance of Kolkata’s Durga Puja

This event is different from the others due to the awe-inspiring works of craftsmanship that shine bright in terms of design and construction. The intricate method of creating idols of deities and adorning them with jewels is something that never fails to catch attention. The same goes for the creation of the makeshift yet well-crafted pandals! In fact, they can be more than just a tribute to divinity.

There are organizers that actually see this as a way to outdo others. As a result, there tends to be a huge surge of innovation when it comes to themes and ideas. While puja committees focus on appeal and display, it is the visitors who actually benefit from the sights! Each pandal then becomes an excellent frame that truly captures the happiness and celebrations of the festive season.

How the Celebrations Now Reach Your Comfort Zone

Bridging the gap between the outdoor experience and the physical distance, Puja organizers have gone a step further to introduce ‘virtual pandal-hopping’. This means streaming the Puja itself on popular social media platforms such as YouTube as is the case with several big organizers in the city. Of course, Santosh Mitra Square and Debdaru Fatak are notable names in the game.

However, others have also decided to step up and follow suit. In fact, there are plans to install giant screens on the paths that lead to their pandals. This gives others the opportunity to witness the rituals happening inside without actually stepping in. If this weren’t enough, people can do a 360-degree virtual tour of the pandal on their websites.

They have now brought the Puja quite literally to your doorstep!

Final Thoughts For Durga Puja Organizers

If anything can be learnt from this, it is the realization of the role that technology has come to play during this pandemic. Work from home and online classes have now become a reality with the intent of connecting people far and wide.

Why should Durga Puja be any different? As we embrace the benefits of digital, puja organizers are actually warming up to the idea of doing the same.

Switching to an unrestricted digital viewing seems to be the best way of enjoying the celebrations while limiting crowds and contact. Ensuring social distancing norms will prove to be a humongous task, especially during a grand event like Durga Puja where crowded malls and pandals make up the most cherished parts of the festival. Of course, the decision passed by the Calcutta High Court takes the current scenario into consideration.

This is perhaps the best way to go about this.

As a matter of fact, this actually opens up a variety of possibilities! Did you know that the beauty of Durga Puja goes way past the boundaries of a pandal? The festive season has successfully captivated the presence of people from different states and countries. Tourists from regions like South Africa and New Zealand actually come here to experience this festival exclusively.

And they still can!

So be sure to catch the celebrations online this Durga Puja!

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