The COVID-19 pandemic has not only changed the way we live our lives, but also how we celebrate. From festivals to weddings – everything in the ‘new normal’ is barely what is used to be.
Indians like to celebrate everything grandly; so when one of the grandest festivals come around, even COVID-19 cannot eradicate our creativity and festivity.
To represent how much we loathe this pandemic, a Hyderabad based Durga Puja pandal features the Goddess slaying the virus in place of her usual asurnemesis. According to the organiser, Gulab Srinivas, the 31-feet idol captures the essence of what people feel – that of coronavirus affecting the lives of people just like a demon.
“This year, COVID-19 has been troubling us the most so we decided to create an idol of goddess Durga killing it like she killed the demon Mahishasura,” he told ANI. Special artists from Kolkata were brought in to create the idol.
While the message is clear, the means to deliver the message are eco-friendly. Srinivas claimed that only environment friendly and non-toxic materials like clay and grass were used to create the idol base and water-colours were used for painting.
The organisers also made sure that the virus-killing idol pandal should not contribute to the spread. The COVID-19 guidelines are being followed diligently, according to Srinivas, and everyone is being made to follow social distancing norms and wear masks.
He also added that the idol was much smaller than the usual 44 to 50 feet, another side effect of the pandemic.
The pandal organisers are making sure that people stay safe, but even so, many people are taking extra precautions by staying at home. A devotee named Maninder Singh said how instead of group prayers, many of them will be offering individual prayers.
While people in Hyderabad can choose whether or not to visit the pandal, places like Delhi and Mumbai don’t have that option. Delhi’s Bengali-majority area, Chittaranjan Park, is usually the epicentre of pujo celebrations in the city with pandals, events, and mela. However, even the famous mela ground is empty this time and most temples have restricted entry.
This year, Durga Puja is being celebrated from October 23 to October 26 across the country.