'COVID-19' roams around in WB to spread awareness

'COVID-19' roams around in West Bengal to spread awareness

 Representative image. (Credit: AFP Photo)

Raising awareness about the COVID-19 outbreak has taken a unique form in West Bengal where a veteran puppet artist has come up with a short folk drama to raise public awareness about the pandemic.

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The 12-minute long drama called Biswatras Corona ( Corona, the terror of the world) in Bengali has five characters such the COVID-19, Yamraj, the god of death, a doctor, a folk singer and some villagers. All the artists are wearing large plastic masks to portray the characters.

During the drama, COVID-19 speaks to Yamraj about how he will infect and kill those who are not taking precautions. The virus also tells the god of death that he will have to take away the dead after the infected patients die.

“I will get into these people through their mouth and nose. After they die you (Yamraj) will carry them away,” says COVID-19.

Then suddenly a doctor appears on the scene and urges people to frequently wash their hand with soap and maintain social distance.

The puppet artist Nirapado Mondal said that the locality where he lives and the surrounding areas are densely populated and he has come up with the initiative to urge people to maintain social distance.

However, due to the lockdown, his team members are unable to join him. So Mondal turns to his family members and neighbours for performing the drama.

“We have decided to hold performances in several market areas so that we can reach out to the maximum number of people. However, we will strictly maintain social distancing during the performances,”  said Mondal. He also said that one such performance was held at a local market last week.

During the performance, the artists are also cautioning people who are not wearing masks and not maintaining social distance.

“I forgot to wear my mask that day. Suddenly Yamraj (the artist playing the character) came and hit me with his sponge club. He told me not step out without a mask,” locals said.

However, sources in the district police said despite being well-intentioned there is a “practical problem” with such performance in market places.

“There can be a gathering around such performances which may compromise social distancing,” a district police official said.