| Kolkata |
October 17, 2020 11:30:35 am
It’s a pleasing October afternoon, someplace across the late 2000s. A lanky, stressed 16-year-old boy rushes house from faculty, dumps his bag under the examine desk and picks up an already-packed rucksack and does a last-minute examine. Finishing his final day at college earlier than Durga Puja holidays, he ticks away a guidelines earlier than he’s off on a Gangotri-Cheerbas-Bhujbas-Gomukh-Tapoban trek together with his household the following day.
Lower to 2020, the boy, now a full-grown 27-year-old man, ‘masked’ and considerably confined by the pandemic to his house and its neighborhood, can solely reminisce his previous Puja holidays this 12 months. However he has a plan for celebrating pandemic-hit Puja in a different way. Deepro Majumder is exploring small villages within the outskirts of his hometown, and a few of their conventional pujas together with these nonetheless run by descendants of royal and zamindar households this 12 months.
For Majumder, born and introduced up in Santiniketan — a spot which, despite being part of Bengal, has remained removed from the perpetual insanity surrounding Durga Puja — the Puja trip at all times meant travelling to the mountains. “There’s some connection between Durga Puja and mountains for me, that has developed over time… possibly as a result of as we had at all times, with few exceptions, deliberate mountain journeys at the moment of the 12 months, as this was the one frequent vacation for my dad and mom,” he explains.
Because of having lived near the campus of Visva Bharati, which follows the Brahmo Samaj’s precept of shunning idol worship, the variety of Pujas round had been much less, and so was the joy surrounding these. “It’s been years that I’ve been in Santiniketan throughout the Pujas. I’ve heard of close by villages like Hatshirandi, the place pujas are supplied to goddess Durga and her youngsters painted on clay backdrop. I’ve determined to journey there this time,” he says.
One other village, Moukhira, homes round 20 terracotta temples. “Right here, the attraction isn’t any celebrated Puja, however these temples,” he says, sharing his plan a couple of bike journey to the place with a couple of associates. He can even swing by the standard family-run Pujas in Ruppur, Surul and Taltor, all at a motorable distances from Santiniketan. “All these have made it to my checklist due to their previous world attraction,” he says, admitting that the very previous household pujashave at all times attracted him greater than /barowari/(neighborhood) pujas that are too crowded for his liking.
Then there’s the Durga Puja in Boner Pukur Danga in Sonajhuri space began by artist Badhan Das who himself used to make the idols. “This is likely one of the points of interest even for the vacationers who go to Santiniketan throughout the Pujas,” he says, whereas including that guests will must be cautious this time.
Like Majumder, lots of people in Kolkata too are searching for a breath of contemporary air by driving off to locations at a three-four hours’ distance, says Shibani Bhattacharya, a Kolkata-based journey agent. She observes that the corona scare amongst Kolkata individuals has resulted in two kinds of behaviours this time. “Unable to gauge the diploma of threat outdoor, some persons are weary of travelling, whereas others are travelling to keep away from the Kolkata crowd,” she says. “Once more, there are those that have been searching for a getaway from the 4 partitions of their houses after months of restricted motion.”
Nevertheless, bookings are undoubtedly low this time as in comparison with earlier years, Shibani agrees. “However people who find themselves venturing out are choosing brief journeys to close by locations,” she says. Other than the favored vacationer locations akin to Digha, Mandarmani and Kashpur, they’re additionally focused on exploring Purulia, Mayapur, Nabadweep, Jhargram and even Dooars.
Most people are preferring non-public autos whereas some are hiring vehicles for touring in brief teams. “We’re additionally urging individuals to limit their teams to relations to minimise the chance issue,” says Bhattacharya. Most of those journeys are simply three to 4 days lengthy, she provides.
Travellers this time are enquiring concerning the Covid protocols and security measures taken by the lodges, visitor homes and homestays earlier than deciding upon which one to e-book. “Accommodations are principally working with 50% occupancy. A room vacated by a shopper is allotted to a different solely after a two-day hole and correct sanitation. Lots of locations are usually not permitting senior residents as they’re extra liable to an infection,” she says. The lodges are additionally offering an SOS quantity to contact in case of any emergency and get in contact with the closest medical clinic or physician obtainable.
Bhattacharya says plenty of the household Durga Pujas in Kolkata too have restricted entries of outsiders this 12 months. “There are journey guides in Kolkata who take individuals on a tour to those conventional Pujas in previous homes, principally situated in North Kolkata, whereas additionally narrating in brief the fascinating backstories of every of them. This 12 months, such excursions are usually not allowed, until you present them Covid detrimental certificates,” she explains.
India Tourism has deliberate sure packages through which individuals can go to pujas in close by villages, get pleasure from their rural attraction and return the identical day. “There are 15-20 such Pujas listed by India tourism,” Bhattacharya says.
Gargi Saha and her household are among the many only a few who’re trusting public transport for lengthy excursions this Autumn break. Saha, a Kolkata resident, who will probably be touring Kalimpong-Lolegaon and if attainable Darjeeling simply after the Pujas will board a prepare to New Jalpaiguri, the railway station nearest to the hill station. Requested about security issues whereas boarding a prepare, the 24-year-old engineer says, “Now we have no method however to imagine that the prepare journey is secure as this journey has turn out to be a necessity after months of lockdown.”
Nonetheless not assured sufficient to journey out of Bengal this 12 months, the Saha household determined to accept a vacation spot inside Bengal, however couldn’t discover rooms of their most popular lodge. “They aren’t letting out all of the rooms at a time. They recommended we go to on the post-/Dashami/ (final day of Durga Pujas) when the rooms will probably be obtainable once more.”
Sumonika Ganguly, who additionally desperately desires to maneuver out of Kolkata throughout the Pujas due to the push at pandals, can also be looking out for a secure place to remain in Bolpur-Santiniketan the place she plans to go along with her husband and seven-year-old son. “Its virtually unimaginable to maintain my son at house when the Dhakis’ beats come calling throughout the Pujas,” says Ganguly, a lecturer at a Kolkata school, apparently frightened about her baby’s publicity to a crowd of at the least 300-400 individuals at their /para/(of her locality) pandal.
If the journey materialises, the household will probably be driving to the vacation spot on their automotive. However the household is used to such journeys as her husband is a member of Kolkata on Wheels, an organisation arranging thrilling convoy drives inside Kolkata to above 300 kms outdoors the town. “Although Kolkata on Wheels just isn’t organising driving journeys now, we had deliberate this journey throughout the Pujas informally with two different households. It one way or the other didn’t work out,” Ganguly rues. “Let’s see if the three of us can transfer out of Kolkata this Puja,” she sighs.
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