By Biswaraj Patnaik in Puri, September 16, 2021: Just a couple of days ago, when the Odisha Special Relief Commissioner rightly restricted the Durgapooja idol size to a maximum size of 4 feet, a hue and cry ensued as if heavens had come crashing down. The Cuttack city pooja organisers fumed and fretted, which was normal given their level of understanding the complexities of life.

Routinely, Samir Dey, the forgotten BJP leader with no following as of now and Md Moqim, the incumbent local Congress MLA have to thrive on making some noise against the government decisions to survive rather than get lost permanently. No one pays much attention what they scream out.

But along with them, Bhatruhari Mahatab, the sitting BJD MP, a renowned medico Dr Siddharth Das, and a seemingly knowledgeable lawyer Dharani Dhar Naik kept expressing anguish over the idol size reduction issue saying brazenly that there was no way the size of an idol could boost spread of infectionis mot acceptable.

They do not most certainly have the rock bottom faculty to figure out how attractive objects pullunruly crowds. Most shockingly, the sitting Cuttack MP evidently against the ruling dispensation, did not hesitate to poison the minds of gullible masses by saying provokingly that evil would set in if the age-old idol size is ignored, no matter what. Bhatruhari went one step forward to instigate the Cuttack grumblers to petition the honourable high court to intervene and pass favourable orders. These pinheads have proven, beyond doubts, to be enemies of mankind.

When the novel corona pandemic struck India, Odisha was the first state in the country to clamp lockdown in March, 2020. Three days later, prime minister Modi took notice and locked down the whole country for nearly three months until slowly unlockdown processes were begun after immeasurable death disasters had occurred. How people suffered then is ordinary history today.

Odisha was also the first to install sophisticated testing equipment and organise maximum hospital beds and nursing health workers in record time. But because of the novel virus with strange powers, was extremely difficult to contain, lives couldn’t be saved easily as was happening all around the world. It took at months to know how exactly the virus was invading the host, multiplying and causing damage at different organ locations. Medicos just managed to discover some basic behaviour of the pathogen and picked some skills to save lives by managing on symptoms onlywithout ever being able to know what drugs would prevent multiplication of the virus.

By the end of September, the surge levelled and suddenly begandeclining rapidly. The world revelled believing novel corona was gone. By December, like elsewhere, the common folks of India too went berserk. They proudly got off guard-merrily discarding themask, laughing off social distance norms, and deriding hand hygiene protocols. The virus, lurking coolly all around meanwhilehad comfortably mutated to become more lethal and ferocious. Mo wonder, it struck like a nuclear bomb.

The second wave did not give much time to the human species even to brace up. All the specially made covid hospitals, having been closed days before, could not be put together to become functional in a hurry, particularly when wits, at all levels, were completely lost. Around this time, frighteningly rising number of positive cases had literally driven authorities and experts blank in the head.Thus the second corona wavehas etched indelible history for posterity.

Now even after huge sero-positivity proof all over the world, and widely-vaccinated people in most countries including India, the pathogen doesn’t seem to have accepted defeat. It has mutated even faster and breaking through to infect even immunised humans. The non-vaccinated kids now stand most vulnerable though they can fight back well. But what needs to be borne in mind is that vaccineslose efficacy after six months.

And mildly sick kids are likely to make the elderly severely ill. So the Americas, whole of developed Europe, Australia and the rest of the world including the declared covid-free Israel and New Zealand are now back to masks, social distancing, hand hygiene and other stringent covid appropriate behaviour to keep life safe. The novel corona is still around.

The extreme pain and pressure experienced by human species all over the planet in the first corona wave, and helplessly so, has create medical history. When corona kept playing around, every other medical activity including cancer treatment and critical research,was abandoned only to devote all available time to scan the virus and get to know how it spread and killed human hosts in matter of only days.

By the grace of the almighty, they managed to see the pathogen through and succeeded in developing several effective vaccines in record time. Once the first surge of infection waned and people started getting vaccinated, governments imagined the pathogen was vanquished forever. Naturally therefore, the world was flung open giving kind of an impression that the virus would never be able to make a comeback. But, the virus lurking all this while, made a second invasion -this time with much greater intensity and virulence.

MP Bhatruhari Mahatab, doctor Siddharth Das, Lawyer Dharanidhar and the headless opponents of the life-saving safety measures would do good to know that because in 2015, Deshapriya Park had brought Kolkata to a standstill during the Pujas attracting lakhs of curious visitors that thronged to see the 88-feet Durga idol, nearly causing stampede because organisers had publicised the statue to be the tallest Durga in the world.

So the 2020 statue during the pandemic, was purposefully reduced by the organizers to a 10-feet idol. The objective as they made clear was solely to scale down the celebrations which would not attract visitors in huge numbers that would make following Covid behaviour practically impossible.

Similarly in Maharashtra, the size of Lord Ganesh idols in public celebrations across the state have been restricted to four feet in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.So much so that even the idols installed at home for private family poojawere expected to be not taller than two feet, said a notification issued by the Home department of Maharasthra. The notification also had made it mandatory for people to use marble or metal idols during the Ganesh festival. And if clay or other materials were to be used, then the ‘visarjan’ (immersion) ceremonies would have to be either at home or in artificial ponds if organised in the area by civic authorities.

The guidelines further said that public organisers should make arrangements possible to provide online Ganesh darshan, pooja, aarti, etc. through cable systems, websites or social media networks. Under no circumstances would any visitor be seen around the Pooja pandals, which could implicate organisers in criminal cases.

So the people of Odisha must begin to question the knowledge and intention of the MP, the MLA, the long-lost Samir Dey along with the medico and the legal superbrain who are obviously deceiving the masses for cheap popularity.

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