Durga Puja 2021: Puja rituals begin with Mahalaya but the main festival starts on Maha Sasthi, the sixth day of Devipaksha.
Durga Puja 2021 date: The five-day festival of Durga Puja is celebrated with much zeal and pageantry across the country, particularly in West Bengal. This festival is said to be one of the biggest festivals in the country. The preparations are in full swing to welcome the goddess to her earthly abode. Durga Puja is particularly significant for the Bengali community. But there are many other states–Assam, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and Tripura which celebrate the festival with full of energy and enthusiasm. The five-day festival ends on Dussehra . The day celebrates the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura, the buffalo demon. The victory depicts the triumph of good over evil.
The festivities usually begin with Maha Sashthi but the preparations for the festivals begin much earlier–with Mahalaya which is the last day of the dark fortnight (Krishnapaksha) of Ashvin month. Goddess Durga is believed to descend on Earth on this day every year. Devipaksha begins the next day. It marks the first day of Sharad month, marking the Durga Puja celebration.
Durga Puja 2021: Significance and vidhi
Puja rituals begin with Mahalaya but the main festival starts on Maha Sasthi, the sixth day of Devipaksha. Ghatasthapana is considered as one of the most significant rituals as it marks the beginning of nine days of festivity. There are well-defined rules and guidelines to perform ghatasthapana or kalash sthapana by Indian scriptures during a certain period of time at the beginning of Navratri. The ritual is an acknowledgment of the goddess, and it is also said that doing it at the wrong time may invite her wrath. Ghatasthapana ritual is prohibited during amavasya and night time. First one-third of the day is said to be the most auspicious time to perform while Pratipada is prevailing.
Over 5,000 cops to man streets during Puja
Kolkata Police Commissioner Soumen Mitra, while launching the department’s 2021 Puja Guide, said that more than 5,000 police personnels would be deployed to man the crowd during next week’s festivities in Kolkata, according to the Indianexpress.com report. The city is almost in a festive mood, with several big Puja pandals having been inaugurated already.
Follow covid protocols: Avoid crowds and processions, WB Health department
The city police chief would follow orders from Calcutta High Court on strictly following Covid-19 protocols during the celebrations. Those who have received both the doses of covid-19 will be allowed to enter pandals this year. Puja committees can organise their traditional Durga Puja rituals such as Sindur Khela and Anjali. These rituals were prohibited last year due to the covid-19. As per the court’s latest guidelines, at least 45-60 people would be allowed to enter big pandals and 10-15 people would be allowed to enter smaller pandals.
Puja guidelines issued by the state government
On Monday, the state government listed out the Puja guidelines. The order read, “This year, Puja is being organised and celebrated in the middle of this unprecedented pandemic. This demands proper and adequate health safety measures for the citizens. Puja Committees must ensure the health and safety norms for themselves and for the participants and visitors.”
“Spacious Open Pandals with Separate Entry-Exit Pandals shall have to be spacious and should be kept open from all sides. If it becomes essential to have a closed ceiling, the sides will have to be kept open. Pandals must keep adequate space and arrangements for ensuring physical distancing in terms of the existing Covid-19 pandemic norms. There should be separate Entry and Exit arrangements with separate gates. Mingling and crowding should be avoided at all places. Floor markings and other signages should be made on entry and exit routes and assembly points to ensure compliance of physical distancing norms,” the order further read.
“Use of masks and sanitizers shall be compulsory for all visitors to the pandals. To meet any exigency, organisers shall make adequate arrangements for distribution of masks in close vicinity of the pandal for visitors who inadvertently come to the pandal premises without wearing masks. The use and availability of hand sanitizers should similarly be made compulsory in the pandal premises and neighbourhood.”
Mamata Banerjee inaugurates Durga Puja pandals
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, on Friday, inaugurated several Durga Puja pandals in South Kolkata for the third straight day. The chief minister also urged people to follow Covid-19 protocols during the festivities and said, “I would urge the people to please follow all Covid-19 guidelines during Durga Puja. Please wear masks while visiting pandals. Do not let your guard down in this festive season,” at Samaj Sebi Sangha. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief inaugurated pandals at other places as well such as Ekdalia Evergreen, Ballygunge Cultural, Singhi Park, Hindustan Park, Falguni Sangha, Mudiali, and Shiv Mandir.