MB Subba 

The annual Durga Puja is being held at the Devi Panchayan temple in Thimphu with strict Covid-19 safety protocols.

The nine-day event is conducted for the long life of His Majesty The King, His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, and Members of the Royal Family; and peace and prosperity of the country, according to the Hindu Dharma Samudaya of Bhutan (HDSB).

The recitation of prayers by Pundits, which began on October 17, will conclude on October 25, which will be followed by Dashain or Tika on October 26. The puja is also being held at the old temple above the Thai Temple in Thimphu.

Executive director of HDSB, Narayan Sharma, said that the Hindu community is observing the puja as a low-key event due to the Covid-19 situation. He said that the puja is also being held to keep Bhutanese safe from Covid-19.

Director of the Department of Culture, Nagtsho Dorji, said that no separate notification on Covid-19 protocols for the puja and Dasain have been issued and that the general Covid-19 protocols that were issued for the events like tshechus and dromchoes would apply.

“As much as possible, gatherings should be avoided,” she said, adding that the Tika ceremony and prayers within the family can be held as usual.

Dasain is celebrated on the tenth day of the Hindu month of Ashwayuja or Ashwina, and is the grand culmination of the 10-day annual festival of Navaratri. Dasain was declared a national holiday in 1980.

Goddess Durga, also identified as Shakti, Bhavani and Adi-Parashakti, is always depicted as a fearless Goddess whose mythology revolves around winning of good over evil.

The word ‘Durga’ literally means invincible.

As per the Hindu lunisolar calendar, the Durga Puja falls in the month of Ashwina, typically in September or October.