Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Durga Puja will be celebrated on a limited scale this year.
In a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus, different rituals of the largest annual festival of the country's Hindu community will be performed this year by strictly following hygiene protocols, without holding any Kumari Puja Bijoya processions in Dhaka.
Leaders of Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad made the announcement at a press briefing on the upcoming festival, held at the Dhakeshwari temple in the capital on Saturday.
They said, "Taking the coronavirus situation into consideration, the Kumari Puja festivities will not be held at puja marquees in Dhaka this year. However, they may take place in other parts of the country."
"Temples in the capital will be closed down during the Puja and no Bijoya procession will be organised. The temples will make their own arrangements for the immersion of the idols," they informed, adding that special prayers will also be offered for deliverance from the pandemic.
Instead of the usual seven days, the Puja will be held this year over a period of five days, beginning on October 23 and ending on October 26.
"Devotees will be discouraged from visiting the Puja marquees after evening hours as chanting of psalms and devotional music will be completed during the Puja itself. Visitors will not be allowed to enter the temple premises after 9:00pm. The temples will make digital arrangements and encourage devotees to pay offerings from home.
"Separate arrangements for entering the temple compounds will be made for male and female devotees. The Bijoya Dashami will be held on October 26, but no procession will be held.
"There will be no lighting decorations and psalm-chanting competitions. Devotional songs will be played on loudspeakers at the temples and puja marquees. Firecrackers will not be allowed. In addition, temple authorities will also refrain from distributing prasad or khichuri to avoid public gatherings.
"The puja will be observed at 30,231 marquees across the country this year, compared to 31,391 last year.
Responding to a question, the Hindu community leaders said Kumari Puja will not be held in Dhaka this time as organisers have been directed by the government to enforce hygiene protocols in puja marquees, including social distancing, wearing of masks and hand-sanitising.
General Secretary of Puja Udjapon Parishad, Nirmal Kumar Chatterjee, read out a written statement during the briefing, while its President, Mrinal Kanti Das addressed media queries.