KOLKATA: With the threat of the spread of COVID-19 during pandal-hopping casting a shadow over Durga Puja festivities in West Bengal, a crowd-puller big-budget puja in Kolkata has decided to allow only locals to visit its marquee.
The Santosh Mitra Square Puja Committee, in a statement on Wednesday night, said it has decided to not allow any outsider to visit its marquee based on the Badrinath Temple to prevent the pandemic from assuming gigantic proportions after the puja.
Only residents of adjacent wards, besides committee members, will be allowed to enter the puja compound after they exhibit identity proof, it said.
"We are aware that this decision will be extremely painful for many people.
But a festival cannot be bigger than human lives," the statement issued by the committee's president Pradip Ghosh and general secretary Sajal Ghosh said.
The puja draws lakhs of visitors every year on all five days of the festival.
Praising the state government for tackling the COVID- 19 crisis, the committee hoped other puja committees will also follow its lead, keeping in mind this year's pandemic situation and the threat of community transmission.
The committee's decision was praised by many people on social media.
"Let this decision be emulated by other big-ticket pujas as well," a netizen said.