Durga Puja, one of the biggest festive occasions is celebrated every year with great enthusiasm across the region. Unlike every year, there is something largely amiss, the prevailing onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit Durga Puja celebrations in Assam in a way hitherto unknown.

While other festivals like Bohag Bihu and Eid-ul-Fitr had to bear the brunt of the pandemic, Durga Puja for a change is being held across the state in a subdued manner.

In the midst of all this, the first day of Durga Puja, known as Maha Shasthi, is being observed by people across the state.

Missing are the lavish puja pandals and the various themed idols that are otherwise a staple menu of the Pujas every year. The aim is to avoid gathering of crowds so that Covid cases in the state don’t get any fillip.

With preventive guidelines and SOPs issued by the government puja committees across Assam are seen taking all possible preventive measures as they gear up for the rest of the celebrations.

Guwahati sees lavish Durga Puja celebrations each year. But this year, things have been rather dull with puja celebrations being low key keeping in mind the threat of Covid.

In Assam’s Kharupetia, the venue which otherwise sees lavish pandals set up for the festival, is sporting a rather plain and simple appearance keeping in pace with the SOPs.

But the scaling down of celebrations and pomp is not deterring people from celebrating the glory of Goddess Durga. Puja pandals were seen being set up in different parts of Hailakandi district even as people came forth to celebrate the festive season while also taking care to maintain precautions.

While making efforts to meet the demands of the SOPs and protocols issued by the government, puja committees were seen sanitizing their respective pandals amid the preparations on the first day itself.

Even as Assam has been recording a low Covid positivity percentage since recent times, authorities are intent on keeping the numbers low by making sure that all guidelines are followed properly amidst the celebrations.

State Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today during the inaugural programme of new flyover in Guwahati, once again cautioned people to maintain safety norms during the Durga Puja celebrations. He urged the people to exercise restraint on celebrations so that the COVID-19 situation doesn’t deteriorate.

While celebrations may be subdued this year, the spirit of Puja can still be felt as the state and region gear up for the remaining 4 days of celebrations.