NEWS
18/09/2020 11:24 AM IST

What Social Distancing? West Bengal Forgets Covid-19 For Mahalaya Rituals

People ditched their masks and took a dip in the river Hooghly for 'tarpan' in Kolkata.

Mahalaya marks the day Goddess Durga is believed to descend from the heavens to earth, and an important day in the Bengali Hindu calendar. 

Despite constantly increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases in West Bengal, the state recorded 3,197 new cases on Thursday, hundreds chose to flout social distancing norms to perform ‘tarpan’, a Mahalaya ritual, on the ghats of Kolkata. 

The Indian Express reported that Babu Ghat, Princep Ghat, Golabari Ghat in Kolkata saw massive crowds as people took a dip in the Hooghly, a distributary of the river ganga. 

The report said people performed the rituals across the state. 

Photos from the ghats on the banks of River Hooghly shows people standing shoulder to shoulder without masks. 

Here are some images: 

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Devotees perform rituals on the bank of river Hooghly to mark the occasion of Mahalaya, at Jagannath Ghat, near Howrah Bridge on September 17, 2020 in Kolkata, India. 
Hindustan Times via Getty Images
A police officials issues warnings for devotees performing rituals on the bank of river Hooghly to mark the occasion of Mahalaya, at Jagannath Ghat, near Howrah Bridge on September 17, 2020 in Kolkata, India. 
SOPA Images via Getty Images
 Devotees perform 'tarpan', in Kolkata. 
Pacific Press via Getty Images
People performing rituals on the ghats of river Hooghly. 
SOPA Images via Getty Images
More devotees perform rituals on the banks of the Hooghly. 

This comes even as chief minister Mamata Banerjee has said she will not let Covid come in the way of Durga Puja celebrations. 

While greeting people for Mahalaya, Banerjee said, “On the auspicious occasion of Mahalaya,I extend my warm regards to one & all.Although #COVID19 has restricted how we celebrate festivals, we shall not allow it to dampen the spirit of this Durga Puja. To this end & to lighten up every home,I undertake #MahalayaProtishruti.” 

Usually, Durga Puja is within few days of Mahalaya, but this year it only begins on October 22. It is the biggest Hindu festival celebrated in Bengal. 

Earlier this week, Banerjee had said that an advisory board set up by the state government had said that it would be a “big challenge” to conduct Durga Puja rituals this year. 

“They have given us a very good suggestion that the pandals should not be covered so as to allow enough ventilation. Places other than where idols will be kept should be left open from the top. We have accepted their proposal and during the meeting with puja committees on September 25, we will hold further discussions,” Banerjee said. 

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