This year's Durga Puja, the biggest religious festival of the country's Hindu community, will be celebrated on a limited scale amid the coronavirus pandemic, Hindu community leaders said yesterday.
They said there will be no "Kumari Puja", one of the main attractions of the five-day festival, in Dhaka, while celebrations have to be limited for devotees at mandaps earlier than usual.
Besides, distribution of special food items will be held back this time around.
Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad yesterday held a press conference at Dhakeshwari Temple premises in the capital to inform media about festival preparations.
Hindu community members will start celebrating the five-day festival on Thursday, with much enthusiasm and religious fervour.
Community leaders at the press conference also urged devotees to not bring out procession on Bijoya Dashami.
Milon Kanti Dutta, president of the organisation, yesterday told The Daily Star this year Kumari Puja will not be celebrated in Dhaka to avoid excessive crowd to maintain health guidelines.
Different puja organisers were also asked to not distribute spicy rice to avoid crowding, he said.
This year, puja will be arranged at 30,213 mandaps across the country, which is 1,185 fewer than last year, said a statement read out at the press conference.
This year, celebration at the mandaps have to be closed for devotees after 9pm while efforts have to be taken to limit people's presence throughout day, it said, citing a directive taken after meeting held with home ministry on October 4.
Earlier, the parishad gave a 26-point directive on August 26 regarding limited-scale celebration of the festival.
It urged everyone to cooperate with law enforcement personnel deployed to ensure security.
According to Hindu scriptures and the Bangla almanac, Durga Puja is observed in sync with the moon's cycle. The five-day festivity and prayers begin on the sixth day of the full moon and ends on the tenth day or Bijoya Dashami.
Durga, the slayer of demon Mahishashur, appears to be riding on the back of a lion and accompanied by her children Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati with 10 weapons in her 10 hands.
At the invocation of the devotees, she descends on the earth, stays for the next four days and leaves after slaying all evil forces and blessing the devotees.
Every year, Goddess Durga arrives on a specific carrier and chooses another bearer for her departure. Her choice is seen to predict how the following year will fare for the world and its inhabitants.