Durga Puja is the most important religious festival on the Bengali calendar. The success of a barowari puja – a public ritual as opposed to a private one intended for a family – is defined by its ability to pull crowds.
Thousends of people descend on the streets on these days, in Agartala as well as in every district, and move like waves in a vast sea of humanity from one pandal to the next.
The number of visitors in the peak hours, generally between 6 pm and 12pm, goes up to tens of hundreds at a single pandal. Durga Puja is potentially catastrophic because its hallmark is crowd.
A large crowd inside confined spaces in a humid atmosphere shouting at the top of its voice is a recipe for absolute disaster. The virus may thrive in such a situation.
The mask will be totally useless there because the confined spaces will be dense, aerosol-generating environments. it is next to impossible to maintain the prescribed six-feet distancing on the streets, in vehicles and in pandals.
If people from the other places or less affected districts come to Agartala and adjacent areas, as visitors or to work at pandals, contract the novel coronavirus and then take it back home, new susceptible populations could be exposed to the virus.
Durga Puja is a social festival that cuts across religion, caste and economic lines. So be alart and strictly maintain the Covid Guidelines. Remember that Covid is yet to over.