Durga Puja 2020: Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Durga Puja will be different this year. In the 'new normal', Bengalis living outside India are busy taking online lessons to perform Durga Puja themselves. COVID-19 has forced the priests from West Bengal to cancel their international travel plans. For decades, priests from the state used to travel to countries - from the United States to Japan and Europe - to do the puja for Bengalis settled there.
"The COVID-19 outbreak has restricted our movement but Durga Puja cannot wait. After requests from friends in India and abroad, we decided to conduct online workshops where all puja rituals will be taught," Jayanta Kushari of the Sarva Bharatiya Prachya Vidya Academy, told news agency Press Trust of India. The Academy has decided to conduct online classes on September 27 and October 4, Mr Kushari added.
From ghot puja, before the idol of Durga is installed on pratipad, to kola bou snan, chandipath and the yagna, all rituals will be taught, he said. Ghot puja is praying to Durga in an urn till Shashthi when the idol of the goddess is installed and kola bou snan is the ritual of bathing a small banana plant, which symbolizes the wife of Ganesha.
The online workshops will be held at a time convenient for all participants across different time zones, Mr Kushari said. The organisation has been conducting workshops for people willing to work as priests apart from their regular jobs.
Last month the group had conducted similar online classes for 175 people in front of a semi-finished Durga idol at Shobhabazar Rajbari, an iconic building in north Kolkata. "More people can attend online sessions than in physical workshops in the present situation. This might be the new norm even in post-COVID times," Mr Kushari said.
Another priest in Kolkata, Srikanto Chakraborty said, he is looking for offers from puja committees across the state after his regular client in London told him that he has put off Durga Puja plans this year.
Durga Puja 2020: Days and dates
- Panchami: October 21
- Shashthi: October 22
- Saptami: October 23
- Ashtami: October 24
- Navami: October 25
- Vijaya Dashami: October 26 - the last day of Navratri culminating in Dussehra