Dhenkanal city is all set to celebrate Laxmi puja with great pomp and gaiety on Monday.
A slew of attractions and festive activities have been put in place to lure visitors from across the country.
This year 38 pandals, studded with innovative themes, have been erected to adorn equally beautiful idols for the 11-day puja.
It seems every nook and corner of the town is prepared to welcome the Goddess of Wealth. In rural parts of the district, the number of puja pandals exceeds 70.
The town has been lit up with colourful illumination. The ‘Seesh Mahal’ of popular Hindi movie ‘Moghul-e-Azam’ finds a place at the puja pandal at Ganesh Bazaar. This gate has been created at a cost of ` 2.5 lakh.
The ‘Chandi Medha’ in Meena Bazaar is an attraction here with the Goddess being adorned with priceless ornaments.
This time, the puja committee here has prepared gold ornaments, worth ` 35 lakh, for the deity. “The total cost of the medha and ornaments of the pandal here would cost over ` 1.55 crore,” said Abhimanyu Behera, president of Meena Bazaar committee. Pandals have also been erected at Jawahar Chhak, Laxmi Bazaar, Ganesh Bazaar, Mahavir Bazaar, Kanchan Bazaar, Anand Bazaar, Baji Chhak, Chadan Bazaar and Karigar Sahi.
At Kanchan Bazaar, people of Hindu and Muslim communities jointly organise the puja. So is the case in Ganesh Bazaar.
This year, the Station Bazaar puja committee is celebrating its silver jubilee and to make it memorable, it has roped in song and dance troupes from various parts of the State to host
cultural nites for eight days.
The Laxmi Puja tradition in Dhenkanal dates back to 1923 but was stopped for reasons unknown till Meena Bazaar took the initiative in 1943. The puja attracts people from various religions and communities.
The other major attractions are the Palli Sabha and Dhenkanal Mahotsav. As per bazaar committee sources, more than 10,000 vendors from across the country have come to the town to sell their wares.
The administration began consultations with puja committees and civil society forums about a month back to ensure a hassle-free puja. Several platoons of police have been deployed to oversee security arrangements during the puja.
This apart, the local civic body has taken measures to ensure proper sanitation.
Major roads have been spruced up at a cost of ` 2.5 crore. Around 100 sweepers have been deployed for sanitation work at different puja pandals.
Over 10 lakh people are expected to throng Dhenkanal for a glimpse of the Goddess during the puja
that will continue till