Members of Satya Sai Group applying vermilion on  one another at Kalibari, Kolar Road in the city on Monday
Members of Satya Sai Group applying vermilion on one another at Kalibari, Kolar Road in the city on Monday

BHOPAL: Bengali women in the city ticked all the right boxes of COVID-19 on Monday when they took part in ‘Sindoor Khela (playing vermilion)’.

Every year on the day of Vijaya Dashami Bengali women put Sindoor on the idol of Goddess Durga, and then, apply it on one another. Nonetheless, this year, the celebrations were environed with certain restrictions. Women began to muster at different Puja Pandals from 11am, and the celebrations began at 12pm. It continued till 3pm. Both married and unmarried Bengali and non-Bengali women took part in it.

Psychiatrist Ruma Bhattacharya says every year she waits for the festival. After taking part in the four-day Durga Puja festival, she remains active throughout the year. Dhunuchi dance and playing Sindoor Khela infuse a new life in her. “So, we can’t miss it,” she says.

Every year, she visits TT Nagar Kali Bari to participate in Sinddoor Khela, but this year, the event was not held due to corona-related restrictions. So she visited Purvachal Club in Habibganj to take part in Sindoor Khela where everything was systematic.

Members of Satya Sai Group applying vermilion on  one another at Kalibari, Kolar Road in the city on Monday
Members of Satya Sai Group applying vermilion on one another at Kalibari, Kolar Road in the city on Monday

There was no entry without thermal scanning, face mask and hand sanitization. There were separate entry and exit rows. One chair was put about four feet away from another to maintain social-distancing norms. At a time only five women were allowed to apply vermillion on one another for one minute. “That one minute is enough for us,” she says, adding that she enjoyed it a lot.

A member of Dakshineswar Kalibari committee in Danish Kunj Bridge, Meeta Mallik, says the event was organised in small-scale due to covid-19, but they performed all the rituals. They followed all the corona-protection norms, and that was the reason why it took three hours to complete. The event began at 12 noon and ended at 3pm.

At a time only five women were allowed to take part in the event. She says they perform dance every year, but they kept away from it because of the corona pandemic. Besides separate gates for entry and exit, there were areas where women waited.

Psychiatrist Ruma Bhattacharya (second from the left) playing vermillion at Purvachal Club in the city on Monday
Psychiatrist Ruma Bhattacharya (second from the left) playing vermillion at Purvachal Club in the city on Monday
Social activist Shibani Ghosh applying vermilion  on  one another in Sector I, Shakti Nagar in the city on Monday
Social activist Shibani Ghosh applying vermilion on one another in Sector I, Shakti Nagar in the city on Monday

A social activist, Shibani Ghosh, says she organised Sindoor Khela at her home and her neighbours took part in it. She says wearing masks was mandatory. A few non-Bengali women of Sai Sarita Group also took part in Sindoor Khela, held at Kalibari on Kolar Road.

Bhopal artiste joins Sindoor Khela in Dubai

A theatre artiste Swastika Chakraborty from Bhopal has taken part in Sindoor Khela (putting vermillion) in Dubai. It was an amazing experience, she told Free Press over the phone. They went to a big hall in a resort, 45km away from main Dubai. All Bengalis gathered there and celebrated the occasion. There were some corona-protection norms. A small idol of Goddess Durga was installed. A priest from Delhi performed all the rituals on Zoom App. There was a local priest, too, who performed certain rituals on the spot. “We presented Dhunuchi dance and took part in Sindoor Khela. We also performed Aarti of the idol and chanted slokas.

Theatre Artiste Swastika Chakraborty (third from the right) celebrating Durga Puja with her family members in Dubai
Theatre Artiste Swastika Chakraborty (third from the right) celebrating Durga Puja with her family members in Dubai

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