Calcutta HC allows 'Sindur Khela', 'Arati', 'Anjali' in Durga Puja pandals

By PTI

KOLKATA: The Calcutta High Court on Thursday modified earlier its orders restricting entry of visitors in Durga Puja pandals in view of improvement in COVID-19 situation and permitted all activities and rituals like ‘Anjali’, ‘Arati’, ‘Sindur Khela’ inside the marquees.

The court made it clear that the relaxation will be subject to the maximum number of persons, which is allowed inside a puja pandal, and compliance with other conditions such as double vaccination and wearing of masks.

Modifying earlier orders of the high court, a division bench comprising justices IP Mukerji and Aniruddha Roy directed that with the said conditions being followed, “all activities and puja rituals like Anjali, Arati, Sindur Khela, etc., are permitted inside the pandal.”

The high court had in October 2020 ordered that in case of smaller pujas, a list for people entering the pandal each day of the four-day festival may include up to 20 names, but not more than 15 persons in case of smaller pujas should get access to the pandals at any given point of time.

It had directed that for the larger pujas, the charts may include up to 60 names, but at no point of time should the number of persons present within the pandals or the covered area be more than 45.

It had said that the norms for the highest-end pandals would only apply to pujas where the pandals cover an area in excess of 300 square metres, excluding the dais on which the idols are placed.

In a petition seeking similar curbs for this year also in view of the Covid, the high court had on October 1 this year directed that restrictions imposed last year would apply during this year’s Durga Puja celebrations as well.

A prayer for review of the order was moved before the court on Thursday.

The division bench, in its order, said that a “little review” of the directions is necessary with the improvement in the COVID situation and administration of double vaccination to a substantial number of people.

The bench directed that entry into a pandal will be limited to the maximum number of persons permitted at any point of time, as per the earlier orders of this court.

“Such entry shall be unrestricted provided each visitor is double vaccinated and wears a mask,” the court directed.

The bench directed that the compliance of the entry requirement will be checked by the puja organisers at the entrance.

“Spot verification is to be made by the police. If any Puja organisation is found to be in default, the Puja and all other activities in that pandal may be forthwith cancelled by the police,” the bench directed.