Odisha soaks in Durga puja celebrations

People participate in dance, music, feasting while many observe fast across the state
Goddess Durga at a pandal
Goddess Durga at a pandal

BARIPADA/ANGUL/ROURKELA/JAGATSINGHPUR: Dussehra celebrations rose to a crescendo across districts in the state with people in large numbers observing Mahashtami on Sunday at various temples and pandals. Besides religious fervour, people were seen participating in dance, music and feasting while many observed fast as a mark of reverence to Goddess Durga.

In Mayurbhanj, the traditional ‘Dansaye,’ performance by Santhal tribal groups accompanied by song and music, evoked a unique and heartwarming atmosphere during Dussehra. People from tribal communities in Mayurbhanj worship Devi Durga in their own distinctive way known as ‘Dansaye.’ Santhal groups from rural pockets of the district gather in Baripada to perform this unique dance form dedicated to Devi Durga, beginning from Sasthi till the end of Dasami.

In Angul and Talcher, a wave of festive spirit engulfed the coal mines area, where an enthusiastic crowd of hundreds of thousands flocked to the puja mandaps spread across collieries. The coal employees in this region are particularly jubilant this year, as they received an impressive puja bonus of Rs 85,000 each.  A coal worker of Deulbera Sarat Pradhan shared his excitement and stated, “We are elated that the central government has granted us the highest-ever puja bonus of Rs 85,000 per head, including contract workers in the collieries. Overall, the atmosphere in the coal mines area and its colonies is brimming with joy and happiness.”

Puja mandaps have been set up in Deulbera, Lingaraj, Dera South Balanda, Bharatpur, and Nandira coal township areas. Notably, the idols at Deulbera and Dera have been skilfully crafted by artists hailing from states outside Odisha. The city of Rourkela too embraced a joyous festive spirit on Ashtami, drawing an enthusiastic crowd of pandal hoppers to the vibrant puja venues.

To ensure a safe and peaceful celebration, the Rourkela police put in place extensive security measures. Rourkela SP Mitrabhanu Mohapatra disclosed that 24 platoons of police forces, in addition to over 400 home guards, have been deployed at the puja venues and key road intersections to enhance crowd and traffic management. Enhancing security and monitoring, prominent Puja venues have been equipped with surveillance cameras and adequate lighting around the pandals.

In Jagatsinghpur, Durga puja was celebrated in villages and hamlets of Gopinathpur panchayat, under Biridi block, with a distinct flavour. What sets the festival apart is that it doesn’t only involve the worship of Goddess Durga but also embraces Lord Ram, Krishna, Sita, Lord Jagannath, Lord Hanuman, Sai Baba, and other deities.

Close to 30 puja pandals have been erected in the villages, with the majority dedicated to the worship of other deities. For instance, the villagers of Balia pay homage to Lord Ram, Lakshman and Sita, while those of Akhadashai hamlet revere Lord Jagannath. Villagers from Sundishai worship Lord Hanuman, and residents of Machishai have set up a Sai Baba pandal. Other villages like Tamil Sahi, Akhadashai, Mahajan Sahi, and Sialshai, have their unique celebrations.

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The New Indian Express