JEYPORE/UMERKOTE/ROURKELA: Amid Covid curbs, Mahashtami was celebrated at different temples and Durga Puja pandals in Koraput and Nabarangpur districts besides Sundargarh’s Rourkela on Wednesday. In Koraput, devotees made a beeline for the temples of Jagatajanani, Bhagabati, Basanti, Dakhinakali, Muthyalamma, Birikhamba and Durga from early morning. While special rituals were performed at the shrines, no animal sacrifice was reported in any of the temples.
The celebrations were low-key in different villages of Narayanpatana, Bandhugaon, Boipariguda, Kundra, Borrigumma, Nandapur, Pottangi, Semiliguda, Lamataput, Kotpad and Kundra. Only the village heads conducted the symbolic puja without any fanfare or animal sacrifice. Tribal heads of Jamunda, Telia, Konga, Khodapa, Solpa and Dharanahandi took out divine lathis (symbol of Goddess Durga) from their respective villages to Jeypore Bhagabati temple as part of the annual Dussehra festival. These lathis will be taken in procession to different temples in Jeypore town for the next four days.
The district police has put in place elaborate arrangements to ensure strict adherence to Covid-19 guidelines. Night curfew has been imposed in Jeypore town to prevent crowds at pandals and temples.In Nabarangpur too, Mahashtami was celebrated sans the usual fanfare. Like last year, the puja pandals at Umerkote, Papadahandi and Nabarangpur town witnessed less crowd due to the Covid restrictions. A total of 143 puja pandals have been set up in the district this year.
Security has been tightened for Dussehra festival with deployment of police personnel at the pandals. Collector Ajit Mishra appealed to residents to celebrate the festival with strict adherence to Covid protocols.In the Steel City of Rourkela, Durga Puja was a muted affair for the second consecutive year. The festival is being celebrated at over 100 locations in the city without any fanfare. While the size of idols has been reduced as per government guidelines, there is a restriction on immersion procession as well.
Majority of the city residents are avoiding the puja venues. However, some venues are witnessing public participation with devotees ignoring Covid protocols. On the day, a large number of devotees visited the Vaishno Devi temple atop Durgapur hill and Tarini temple near Panposh to offer prayers to the deity on Mahashtami.