Amid economic slowdown, Durga Puja festivities grip NE states


Notwithstanding the economic slowdown brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, Durga Puja festivities have gripped the people of the northeastern states, especially the puja revellers in Assam, Tripura and Manipur.

However, due to the Covid-induced economic slowdown, most clubs, puja organisers and community leaders said that they had to cut down the budget and minimise the necessary decoration of the pandals this time, as the overall financial situation is not very favourable.

Though the five-day-long Durga Puja festivities commenced on Monday, the actual festival got underway with ‘Mahashaptami’ on Tuesday.

Last year, the pandemic had restricted not just gatherings and movement of people, but had also dampened the passion and zeal with which the puja is celebrated every year.

Though the puja fervour is much better than last year, the illumination, glitz and theme-based festivities are missing in most places, reflecting the lower budgets of the Puja committees this year.

While most of the governments in the northeastern states have relaxed the Covid restrictions during the festive season, they have appealed to the people to remain cautious and use face masks.

Pradip Sharma, secretary of a community puja committee in Dispur, said that this year they built a small pandal and reduced other expenditures due to the adverse economic situation.

“We are simply following the rituals and there are no big cultural programmes this time. We also couldn’t erect a theme pandal this year,” Sharma said.

He said like pre-pandemic years, sponsorships or advertisements are also very less this year.

In Guwahati and other places of Assam, Durga Puja is being held with a greater zeal as compared to last year, when a minimum number of pujas was held with very few people venturing out of their homes due to the pandemic.

After visiting many pandalas and temples in other parts of Assam, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday visited the Bengali-dominated Barak valley where went around several puja pandals, offering prayers.

Sarma began his tour to the valley on Tuesday with a visit to the Kanchakanti Devi Mandir at Udharbond and then to the Shyamananda Bhoiravbari Durga Puja, Panchanan Shivbari Sarbajanin Durga Puja, Sheuratola Durgotsav, Premtola Sarbajanin Durga Puja, Ramkrishna Mission Sevashram, Bilpar Durgabari Durgapuja, Bajrangpur Tea Estate Puja, Tarapur Sarbajanin Durga Puja and the Tarapur Sarbajanin Durga Puja.

Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb and his Manipur counterpart N. Biren Singh also inaugurated a number of pujas in their respective states.

In Tripura, around 2,200 community pujas, down from 2,500 in 2019, are being organised this year.

In Meghalaya, the Durga puja celebrations have started in Shillong and some other parts of the state.

Police Bazar, the main commercial hub of Shillong, wore a normal look with people busy with their usual routine in a festive mood.