The mood was upbeat as the Bengalis in town joined hands with locals to celebrate Durga Puja. With the smell of incense and clanging of bells, Bhubaneswar Kali Badi Puja Committee was redolent of the faraway West Bengal on Sunday morning.
The puja had all the paraphernalia associated with the event complete with an impressive figure of eight-armed Goddess Durga slaying a demon and flanked by the idols of Ganesha, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Karthikeya.
The dexterous hands of the artisans from Kolkata conjured up the image of a benevolent Goddess devoid of any anger despite slaying the evil forces as represented by the demon. Astride a ferocious-looking lion, the idol is about 6-foot tall.
The celebrations commenced on Saturday (Maha Sasthi), which according to Bengali traditions, marked the arrival of Goddess Durga on earth while Saptami on Sunday is reckoned to be the first day of the Durga Puja involving traditional events such as ‘Naba Patrika Sthapana’ and ‘Pushpanjali.’ The Kali Badi Puja Mandap came alive with the beat of the ‘dhak’ or the traditional drum and the blowing of the conch.
The Maha Ashtami falls on Monday and this marks the beginning of the Sandhi Puja. The festivities will conclude on Wednesday with the Bijaya Dasami and the idol will be taken in a procession for the immersion.
Before that, Bengali women will play ‘Sindur Khela.’
The annual festival remains an occasion for Bengalis in Bhubaneswar to integrate with their roots. Agrees S Mareek, member of the Kali Badi Puja Committee: “We have around 400 Bengali families in Bhubaneswar. Every year, we come together to observe Durga Puja.
The community bonding is visible over here.” These 44 families have been celebrating the event with traditional fervour for the past 49 years.