BHUBANESWAR: In a unique initiative, Bomikhal Durga Puja Samiti has planned to pitch for an everlasting human-animal bond to maintain a balanced ecosystem. This year, the puja pandal will be a replica of Hastinapur Palace having cut-outs of two elephants and as many lions. “We want to spread a message among the citizens that co-existence of human beings and wild animals is important to maintain a healthy and diverse ecosystem,” said Bomikhal Durga Puja Samiti vice-president, Banti Jena.
Amid increasing incidents of human-wildlife conflict, long-term survival of some of the world’s most iconic species like elephants and tigers is at risk, said the samiti. Human-wildlife conflicts end up in giving negative results and even lead to loss of precious lives. Defensive and retaliatory killings may eventually drive some animal species to extinction. These encounters have a global ramifications, Jena said. While the 120 feet wide and 80 feet high pandal is being designed by artists from West Bengal, the idol of Goddess Durga is being crafted by artisans from Cuttack. The idol’s height will be 13 feet and medha’s 18 feet. The goddess will adorn a silver crown weighing around 7 kg. Lighting at the pandal and the roads will be set up by technicians from West Bengal.
Devotees will be offered ‘khichdi’ prasad twice a day from Sasthi to Dasami. Around 3,000 devotees will be offered ‘anna’ prasad consisting of rice, ‘dalma’, ‘khatta’, ‘khiri’ and others on Astami. Cultural programmes will also be held during the five-day-long festivities starting from Sasthi.“Around 30 to 40 CCTV cameras will be installed at the pandal to keep a close eye on anti-social elements.
At least 100 volunteers equipped with walkie-talkie sets and 20 staff of private security agencies will also be deployed to ensure the festival passes off smoothly,” said Jena. Wheelchairs will be available for senior citizens and differently-abled people visiting the pandal and a barricade will be set up to ensure they do not face any hassles while entering and exiting. The samiti has also planned to take out a grand ‘bhasani’ jatra by including two camels from Rajasthan.