The Malad Ramlila, which commonly sees thousands of spectators arrive for its impressive performance, has instead been live streaming a daily recitation of the ‘Ramcharitmanas’ from a nearby temple. Organiser Raman Jindal of the Shri Ramlila Prachar Samiti said, “We are broadcasting the ‘Ramayan paath’ by Virendra Yagnik live on YouTube, Facebook and on TV every evening from 4.30-7.30pm. The highlight of Sunday’s final episode will be the coronation of Shri Ram.”
Durga Puja pandals will perform darpan visarjan although the spectacular sindoor khela, where married women smear vermilion on one another, will be absent.
The HRCWA (Hillside Residents’ Cultural and Welfare Association) of Thakur Village, Kandivali, celebrated its seventh Durgotsav with a ‘Ghot Pujo’ instead of the Devi moorti to avoid crowd. “All pujas and cultural programmes are being beamed online, including a performance by famous playback singer Rupankar Bagchi on Dussehra,” said spokesman Sanjoy Bhattacharya.
Over in Mulund, the Bengal Institute of Art and Culture is observing a muted Puja at Kalidas Sports Complex. Joint secretary Somor Roy said, “We have dispensed with public, prasad and floral anjali. Our focus remains the puja. All we are doing is permitting very few pass holders instead of the regular 2,000-3,000 people, and preparing the special bhog for Ma Durga. Our idol is 4 ft tall. The tableau is not made in Ekchala style this year but has separate figures of the Goddess and her children.”
Households and pandals in Navi Mumbai, Bhayander and Thane have also done their best amid the pandemic. Asit Ghosh from Vashi brought the idol for his household style Durga Puja from the famous Kumartuli of Kolkata, made by the “even more famous” Mala Pal. “This year she won the prize for most beautiful idol in Kumartuli for sculpting our Ma Durga idol,” he said.
Aamra Prabashi in Hiranandani Estate, Thane, is celebrating its 18th year of Durga Puja with a combination of physical rituals and digital activities. “Instead of a small idol as stipulated by the authorities, we have a large photo of Ma Durga and mangal kalash which is worshipped at the pandal. Pushpanjali and Sandhya aarti are live online,” said trustee Subhashis Das.
Bhayander’s Banga Sangha has cancelled its mahaprasad, visarjan procession and cultural programmes, said organiser Rathin Dutta. “The idol is brought from Kolkata by sculptor Subhojit Das. Devotees are invited for darshan wearing masks, using sanitiser and observing physical distancing norms,” he said.