Priests Hit Hard as Income Dries Up Amid COVID-19 Crisis

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KOLKATA, INDIA, July 20, 2020 (Siasat Daily): With several weddings and religious functions being put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Hindu priests in Kolkata and its vicinity are in dire straits, some even looking for an alternative source of income to make ends meet. Sushanta Chakraborty, a priest in Agarpara on the northern outskirts of the city, is selling vegetables in his locality, something that he said his “ancestors couldn’t have thought of, no matter what the circumstances.” “Some households which I had been visiting for decades to perform rituals on auspicious occasions wouldn’t invite me anymore.” “Before March, I used to earn anything between US$467 and $534 every month. Now, I barely manage to take home $10.68 per day,” Chakraborty said.

Vijay Upadhay, a priest in the city’s Kestopur area, has taken to Facebook to urge people that they be allowed to perform household rituals. “Narayan puja rituals are now taking place without the presence of a priest in many households. I appeal to all of you to remove the misgivings and allow priests conduct the rituals,” he said. Montu Chakroborty, a priest in south Kolkata’s Chakraberia area, believes that the situation will change for the better during Durga puja.

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