Maha Saptami today, puja festivities grip state amidst pandemic

October 23, 2020: The Durga Puja festivities have started with the Maha Saptami on Friday, marking the beginning of the worship of Goddess Durga on her four-day sojourn to her maternal abode.

DY365
DY365
Sanitiser kept at the entrance of a puja pandal in Guwahati.

October 23, 2020: The Durga Puja festivities have started across Assam with the Maha Saptami on Friday, marking the beginning of the worship of Goddess Durga on her four-day sojourn to her maternal abode.

The day began with the taking out of banana plantains-- 'Nabapatrika' (symbolising Lord Ganesha's wife) for a ritual dip at nearest water bodies as priests made arrangements for the day's worship of the goddess and her celestial family.

The five-day Durga Puja started on Thursday with Sashthi Puja. On Thursday evening, formalities of the Durga Puja began with the Sashthi puja  began with recitation of verses from the Holy Chandi, the blowing of conch shells (Shankha), and the beating of dhak-dhols (drums) in puja pandals.

This time, participation has been made limited at the mandaps due to the Covid-19. No one will be given entry into the mandap without checking the temperature and without a mask.

The ceremonies have been shortened this year as per the instructions to avoid the infection of Covid-19. The government has already issued protocols to be followed by both puja committees and the revellers.

These include mandatory Covid tests for priests and committee members, spacious pandals with open from all sides, adequate space for physical distancing , measures to avoid crowding at all costs and ensure that not more than 10 to 30 persons can congregate at a time depending on the size of the pandal, separate entry and exit gates, mandatory use of face masks for all visitors, use of microphone by priests so that devotees need not come close to him to offer anjali and no distribution of prasad in the pandal or community feasting.

The government has also instructed that restaurants will be closed at 10.30 pm and only takeaway food will be allowed, subject to relevant permissions from the government. Besides, pillion riding will not be allowed for males during Puja days. However, pillion riding is allowed during Puja days for women or child below 15 years.

According to the epic Ramayana, before attacking Ravana in Lanka to free his wife Sita, Lord Rama had performed Durga Puja in autumn — a time when the gods’ sleep, according to the Hindu religious texts.

The goddess, astride a lion and wielding an array of weapons in her ten hands, stays for four days to eradicate all evil from Earth before returning to her husband Lord Shiva in Kailash on Dashami.

The festival epitomises the victory of good over evil. During Durga Pija, Goddess Durga along with her children Goddess Lakshmi (goddess of wealth and prosperity), Saraswati (goddess of knowledge and music ) Ganesha (god of good beginnings) and Kartikeya (god of war) are also worshipped.

 

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