(Eds: With more inputs) Kolkata, Oct 26 (PTI) The five-day Durga Puja festivities in Bengal came to an end on Monday, albeit colourful processions, which usually mark the occasion, were largely missing from the city streets, as the idol immersion ceremony was observed by just a handful of people.
Dressed in traditional outfits and with masks worn on faces, devotees, while maintaining safe distance, touched the feet of goddess Durga as chants of 'asche bochor abar hobe' (till next year) rent the air.
Women offered sweets to the goddess, even as the traditional 'Sindur Khela' (women smear each other with vermilion) was mostly restricted to organisers and a few local residents at the pandals.
In some parts of the state, effigies of Ravana fashioned as the coronavirus were burnt as part of Bijoya Dashami celebrations.
According to Kolkata Police sources, adequate arrangements had been made to ensure the idol immersion ceremony was peaceful everywhere, with CCTVs installed at all river ghats and personnel from civic bodies and Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) present at the venue to monitor the situation.
All puja committees were told to send bare minimum members to the ghats for the observing the rituals.
Close to 1,800 idols were immersed in various ghats of the city till 9 pm, police said. Around 54 ghats were earmarked for immersion.
Heavy cranes fixed atop boats were seen in action at some of the ghats to help lift and extricate the remains of the idols from the river to avoid water pollution.
Some puja committees came up with innovative ideas, placing the idols in makeshift water reservoirs and sprinkling water to dissolve those.
This year, however, the Durga Puja carnival at Red Road, where big ticket committees showcase their idols before participating in the immersion procession, has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. PTI PNT RMS RBT RBT