Navratri Durga Puja 2020
The word “Navratri” is an amalgamation of two separate words, “Nav” meaning nine and “Ratri” meaning night; hence, Navratri translates to nine nights in English. This is the celebration of Devi Durga, a Hindu goddess of power/Shakti that lasts for ten days and nine nights.
Though there are four Navratri in a year, the one most Hindus observe worldwide is during autumn. They celebrate the Puja differently in different regions and in their own unique ways. While most people fast or become vegetarian for these nine nights, the Bengalis enjoy the festivities with lavish cooking and eating. It’s time for fun and fashion.
Arrival – 17 October
This year, the Navratri begins on 17 October 2020 and will continue till 25 October. However, with the COVID 19 situation, things will be drastically different. In Bengal, people celebrate the Durga Puja widely and with a lot of pomp and vigor. There are various pandals where you can find Idols of clay and other materials in different sizes that devotees worship during the puja.
Navratri Durga Puja 2020
Numerous people throng these puja pandals during the evenings and all night long. Worshippers call this “Pandal Hopping” whilst in Gujarat, the festival is celebrated with “Garba”. It is a dance form that includes circular motions with hands and feet, and “Dandiya”, a dance form with sticks. Here, men and women dressed in their traditional dresses, form a circle and dance together in circular movements. These circles can increase and decrease in size while in motion, and it feels fantastic to be a part of it.
Various organizers organize Dandiya or Garba nights, and people dance the night away and make merriment across India. However, this might not be the case this year due to the pandemic. There will naturally be restrictions for safety reasons.
Rules & Regulation across India in 2020 Durga Puja celebrations
The state government of West Bengal hasn’t come with any rules or regulations yet for the 2020 Durga Puja celebrations. However, puja organizers have come up with a new set of guidelines to ensure safety. This is awaiting discussion and approval of the Chief Minister.
- There will be a special entrance or a tunnel for sanitization.
- Not only the height of the idols but also the heights of the pandals will be smaller than usual. However, the height is still not final and awaiting discussion.
- Pandals will be more open and airy so that idols can be seen from the outside, without entering.
- Sanitization of the puja premises at regular intervals.
- Organizers will distribute masks among the devotees visiting the pandals. Those not wearing one will be denied entrance.
- There will also be requests to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation to provide a minimum of one tanker per Pandal for spraying sanitizer on visitors.
- Organizers may allow a maximum of 25 people inside the Pandal at a time. The crowd will continuously be moving with no pauses inside the Pandal to click pictures and selfies.
- Whole fruit offerings will be accepted, and no fruits will be cut into pieces.
- Food stalls will have no sitting space available, and decorations will be a lot less to discourage Pandal hoppers.
What to expect in COVID-19 situation in Navratri Durga Puja 2020?
We can assume that a lot of its celebration this year will be internal than external. You can expect to include masks in all the new attires and make it a fashion statement. There will be a lot less crowd in comparison to other years.
The celebrations will be low-key, and there will be possibilities for canceling the famous Nabami lunch or dinner. At best, there will be a bare minimum of the same. There is also a possibility of the Puja celebrations going digital in many places. Organizers might air their puja celebrations via cable channels or online portals. This might also include the “ashtamir anjali”. People should maintain social distancing and follow all precursory measures to maintain safety.
Why West Bengal & Gujarat have special celebrations with Navratri Durga Puja?
While Indians across the country call this festival the Navratri or Dussehra, in Bengal people celebrate it as the “Durga Puja”. In fact, this is the most awaited time of the year. Everything rotates and revolves around Durga Puja in Bengal. It’s an emotion and not just a celebration. It begins with “Mahalaya” and ends with “Bijoya”, i.e. the immersion of the idol. However, the puja celebrations begin from “Shashti”, the 6th day in the ten days of puja. The battle between the shapeshifting Mahishasura and Devi Durga, where good prevails over evil is why Bengalis observe Durga puja with special celebrations. It’s to honor feminism in its highest form.
In Gujarat as well this is one of the primary festivals. It’s celebrated with “Garbo”, a clay pot as a sign of a womb and when it’s lit inside, it represents the “Atma” or soul. People fast during the nine days of puja in honor of the goddess of Shakti/power and her nine elements.
Though there may not be the grandeur and pomp in this year’s celebration lets pray and hope that we can overcome this pandemic and resume the celebration in the years to come.
Happy Navratri and Durga Puja
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