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AsiaStoryFestivals of India ; Durga Puja amid Pandemic by Pritam Dutta

Durga puja in West Bengal is one of the famous festivals of India which witness large public gathering every year. The year 2020 will be remembered for the curse of Corona Virus pandemic. More than 1.2 lakh people have already lost their life in this pandemic. India is among the worst impacted countries.

The year 2020 will be remembered for the curse of Corona Virus pandemic. More than 1.2 lakh people have already lost their life in this pandemic. India is among the worst impacted countries.

Due to the pandemic public gathering is restricted all over the world.  Durga puja in West Bengal is one of the famous festivals of India which witness large public gathering every year. But this year Durga puja is not same as the previous years. In West Bengal Durga puja is not only just a Hindu puja rather it is a festival for all and the socio economy of the state largely depends on the grand festival. Decorators, idol makers, artists, street vendors and every Bengali eagerly wait for Durga puja every year. But 2020 the year of the pandemic, and Durga puja is not exempt. Amid fresh regulations from the Calcutta High Court that limit entry of mass. Other precautions put in place by organisers themselves; Kolkata is embracing a puja markedly different from what it usually sees. The large crowd gathering during the puja was a big concern for government and health department. Barriers, five metres for the smaller pandals, and 10 metres for the larger ones, have been set up to avoid overcrowding and in turn, risk of exposure to the virus. As it stands, a handful of volunteers and the priest will be the only constant inside pandals this time. Sindur khela, dhunuchi naach , pushpanjali and immersion of the idol have also been scaled down this year so that  lesser people will attend the ceremonies and participation is personal choice.Year old traditions changed, ritual modified to avoid Covid related contamination risks. Through my lens I have tried to document this year’s Durga puja from mahalaya to bisarjan (immersion) which is different than usual celebration due to the Covid pandemic.

About Pritam Dutta

Pritam Dutta is an independent photographer who currently lives in Kolkata, India.  His professional career started as a software engineer, but he decided to make a change to pursue his true passion for photography. The curiosity and hunger for learning that had motivated his engineering career did not vanish. Pritam now uses photography as a vehicle to understand and help depict issues that puzzle him, and satisfy his passion for learning. Love for painting drove him towards photography to capture the emotions and actions of people . Among his most prominent themes are culture, religion and people. To him photography is the best platform to represent moments of truth. [Official Website]

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Photo by ©Ryotaro Horiuchi | Japan | Issue#14
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