The Belur Math, global headquarters of Rama Krishna Math and Mission, has decided not to allow devotees during the Durga Puja for the first time in its history due to the pandemic situation and will live stream the proceedings instead.
A Belur Math spokesman told PTI on Tuesday "we request our lakhs of devotees, who visit the Belur Math temple compound and pandal on the four days every year, to sit at home and watch the rituals on YouTube from October 21 to 26 (the day of Panchami to Dashami).
The devotees can watch the rituals by clicking on link on youtube, he said.
This is for the first time in the 119-year history of Durga Puja in Belur Math that pilgrims will not be allowed to witness the puja started by Swami Vivekananda in the same complex in 1901, the spokesman said.
The puja will be held inside the temple of Ramakrishna unlike in a marquee on an adjacent plot of the temple as being done for past 20 years, he said.
The famous Kumari puja on the day of Asthami, where a girl of less than eight years of age is worshipped as Durga after being selected by monks, will also be held like in past years but only the child and her parents will be allowed after mandatory COVID-19 tests, he said.
The Belur Math authorities had in August barred entry of visitors to the math complex after opening it in mid-June with several COVID-19 cases reported among the monks and other staff.
Though they have all recovered, the authorities are wary of fresh contamination from the contagion as the pandemic still rages in the country, the spokesman said.