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J’khand allows reopening of religious sites; permits Durga Puja with curbs

People of Jharkhand heaved a sigh of relief as the state government finally announced reopening of all religious places from October 8 and also paved the way for the public celebration of Durga Puja, albeit strictly adhering to Covid-19 guidelines.

A statement of the Jharkhand government said: “After a thorough review of the prevailing pandemic situation it has been decided to allow Durga Puja celebration in the state, keeping in mind that there are no congregations which could trigger the spread of the infection. Therefore, the lockdown related curbs currently within the containment zones will be extended until October 31.”

It said that all the religious sites outside the containment zones are permitted to open from October 8 in compliance with protocols that shall be issued separately.

The state government has also allowed interstate public bus travel which shall comply with the SOPs on preventive measures laid down by the Department of Transport and Civil Aviation in this regard.

As per the order issued by the Home Prison and Disaster Management Department, SOPs have also been laid down for all the Durga Puja organizers.

The guidelines say that Durga Puja may be performed in small pandals where it has been done traditionally only with the objective of performance of rituals without public participation for which the Puja pandals shall be covered on all sides in a way to prevent any public view of the idols. Moreover, these pandals would not be constructed on any themes.

The order said that there will be no decoration in the area around the Puja pandal nor welcome gates in and around the vicinity.

The order stated that the size of the idols shall be less than 4 feet and there will be no use of a public address system, nor any food stalls in and around the pandal.

There will be no Ravan ‘dehan’ this year and no musical or cultural program will be organized during Durga Puja. Face masks will be mandatory. Only seven people will be allowed to visit the Puja pandal at a time, the guidelines added.

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