Gross violations of Covid-19 social distancing norms were seen at several ‘ghats’ of river Ganga in Kolkata and it’s adjoining Howrah district as people came in hordes to offer “tarpan" on Thursday morning.
Thousands of people were seen violating safety guidelines as most of them did not ever bother to wear masks and use the sanitising channels while entering the ghats on the occasion of Mahalaya.
The auspicious day marks the last day of ‘Shradh’ and the beginning of the Durga Puja festivities, the day when the goddess Durga is believed to have descended on Earth.
People in West Bengal traditionally wake up early morning on Mahalaya in a bid to make offerings to divine entities as per Vedic practice remembering their forefathers and their departed souls.
Amid announcements of maintaining physical distancing guidelines made by the Kolkata Police and disaster management teams, the rituals were performed, at a time when the daily figures of Corona cases reached an all-time high in India.
Social media was soon flooded with visuals of natives offering their prayers to their ancestors as social distancing went for a toss. Netizens expressed their concern over having these gatherings when India is second in the list of coronavirus cases.
I understand emotions and all. But we should have really skipped Tarpan this year. Ghats are full of people with no social distancing, no mask. Really Sad. #Mahalaya2020— Sneha Saha (@sahas1301) September 17, 2020
Yesterday ‘tarpan’ wasn’t allowed stating Covid situation. Today it was allowed. I’m guessing Covid doesn’t exist today! Just saying 😁 pic.twitter.com/2U2mMZ9Hjp— Pooja Mehta (@pooja_news) September 17, 2020
people need to be more sensible and learn the alternatives. My father did Ganga Abahan and performed Tarpan at home following social distancing and fulfilling all religious requirements.— Gourav Bose (@GouravBose7) September 17, 2020
Where the hell in Bengal Social distancing is maintained? Are you blind to see the Sunday Veg and non veg market, in Diamond harbour route busses even in Metro station.You people are very much aggressive to put your political strength to Stop Tarpan on Mahalaya?— ust (@ust89210484) September 16, 2020
Covid norms go for toss as thousands gather for 'tarpan' at Kolkata ghats https://t.co/KdLSUQvLpU#britishasianews #asianews #asia pic.twitter.com/hmyk2rREpZ— British Asia News (@british_asia) September 17, 2020
The state ruling Trinamool Congress volunteers also distributed free masks at several ghats, including Ahiritola Ghat, and joined hands with the police to do the crowd management activities.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also extended warm regards to all the residents of the state.
“On the auspicious occasion of Mahalaya, I extend my warm regards to one & all. Although Covid-19 has restricted how we celebrate festivals, we shall not allow it to dampen the spirit of this Durga Puja," she said. She urged everyone to come forward, extend a helping hand to those in need and spread joy everywhere.
“As a part of this pledge, I vow to ensure that this Durga Pujo, no one is devoid of the festivities," Banerjee tweeted, greeting everyone on Shubho Mahalaya.
On the other hand, state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists had performed the ritual of ‘Tarpan’ on the eve of Mahalaya for its slain activists, despite the city police’s efforts to prevent the programme to be held at a Kolkata ghat. Initially, the venue was decided at Baghbazar ghat in north Kolkata, then changed to Golabari ghat in Howrah - exactly on the other side of the mighty river.
The Kolkata Police officials cited the prevailing Covid-19 situation for its action and had dismantled a temporary podium on Wednesday erected for the Shahid Tarpan, in memory of slain BJP activists in Bengal in order to avert a political face-off.
( with inputs from IANS )