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Now streaming live: puja in the time of pandemic

Salt Lake club does away with pandal; sets up giant screen for people to watch rituals
Ganesh Puja being streamed live to an LED screen on a stage erected near the PNB roundabout in Salt Lake on Saturday.

Snehal Sengupta   |   Salt Lake   |   Published 23.08.20, 02:11 AM

A Salt Lake club on Saturday streamed live Ganesh Puja rituals to a giant LED screen near the PNB roundabout from a member’s house.

The Yubak Sangha Club, which has held its puja at the same spot in the BA Block for the past 11 years, decided against erecting a pandal this year to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The giant screen has been fixed on a stage, along with speakers.

As the streaming started in the morning, passers-by clicked photographs. Several residents in masks and caps stood with folded hands as club volunteers ensured there was no crowding.

The men also put sanitisers on the hands of the visitors and asked everyone to maintain social distance. A set of masks was also kept at one corner and people could take one home.

“The puja has become a regular fixture for people of our block. We were a bit sad that this year the organisers decided to do away with the pandal… but I quite liked the fact that all rituals were live-streamed here,” Rudrani Chatterjee, who lives in the AB Block, said.

Chatterjee stepped out of her house in the afternoon, clicked a few photographs of the LED screen and a selfie with it in the background before going back home.

At Maharashtra Niwas on Hazra Road, priests started the puja with a small Ganesh idol and a few devotees.

The Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations organised by the Maharashtra Mandal is among the oldest in Calcutta, a tradition it has upheld since the 1930s. For Maharashtrians based in the city, the Hazra Road address is still the place to be during this time of the year.

At Satyanarayan Park, the organisers of one of the biggest Ganesh Puja in the area decided to call off the celebrations. In Burrabazar, too, the celebrations were muted.

In Salt Lake, the rituals were live-streamed to the LED screen from a house in the BB Block. A priest offered the puja to a small idol, along with a few puja organisers, one of whom acted as the cameraperson.

“We set up a camcorder on a tripod. The images were streamed live to the screen… our regular electrician who deals in sound and video equipment helped us set it up,” Kaushik Chanda, one of the puja organisers, said.

Another member of the club said the location of the house where the puja was held was “deliberately not made public”. “Many people would have landed up at the house to offer puja. We would not have been able to say no to anyone…. We did not want to take any chance during the pandemic.”

A real estate developer in Salt Lake who is associated with the puja said the arrangement suited the club’s budget, which underwent a “huge cut” because of the pandemic.

“We could not raise any subscriptions this year. We wouldn’t have been able to afford a large-scale puja,” the developer said. 

People can view the puja live on a Facebook page created by the organisers. Those willing to donate money can do so online; they will receive prasad, including khichdi, and hand sanitisers and masks delivered to their homes, an organiser said.

The Salt Lake Maitri Sangha Club, which holds its puja in the CF Block, is doing with a small pandal this year.

Former mayor of the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation Sabyasachi Dutta is the president of club. The club decided to do away with big celebrations as people “would not step out”, he said. “We don’t want a huge gathering. We have an open pandal where people can get a glimpse of the rituals as they pass by.”

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