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With more than 300 Puja Pandals, Durga Puja Celebrations pick up pace in twin cities of Odisha

To ensure an incident-free Dussehra, the commissionerate police have tightened security in the twin cities

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Durga Puja, Wikimedia
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Bhubaneswar, Oct 9: Durga Puja celebrations have picked up pace in the twin cities of Odisha — Bhubaneswar and Cuttack — with people thronging the pandals to seek blessings of Goddess Durga.

More than 300 major puja pandals and innumerable smaller ones in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar have come alive with stunning decorations and sparkling lights. People are moving from pandal to pandal to seek and admire the puja decorations created on different themes.

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People were also seen shopping in malls and enjoying delicacies at eateries across the twin cities.

However, weather may play spoilsport during Durga Puja celebrations as the Indian Meteorological Department has forecast rainfall in the wake of an upper air cyclonic circulation formed over the Bay of Bengal.

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“The rainfall would continue till October 10. However, there would be moderate rainfall with intervals,” said Bhubaneswar Met Office Director Sarat Chandra Sahu.

To ensure an incident-free Dussehra, the commissionerate police have tightened security in the twin cities.

Police Commissioner Y.B. Khurania said the police has made elaborate arrangements for vehicular traffic management and upkeep of law and order situation during the puja and idol immersion.

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While police aid posts were set up at different places, patrolling also has been intensified. The Quick Reaction Team (QRT) and Striking Force have also been stationed, he added.

To keep a close watch on anti-social elements, CCTV cameras have been installed at strategic points, including at the puja pandals. Surveillance is also being maintained in crowded market places, hotels, restaurants and malls. (IANS)

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Kashmere Gate Durga Puja is the 108 Years Old Annual Ritual in Delhi

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Kashmere Gate Durga Puja
Durga Puja. IANS

New Delhi, Sep 24, 2017: Kolkata might be the cynosure of Durga Puja celebrations, but not far behind is the national capital, which plays host to more than 350 pandals (marquees). And the Kashmere Gate Durga Puja has been continuing this yearly ritual for the past 108 years, making it Delhi’s oldest Puja.

Its theme has always been traditional. From maintaining the quintessential “sabeki ek-chala-thakur” (traditional one platform) goddess Durga to carrying the idol in a bullock cart for the “visarjan” (immersion), this Puja stands out against the rest.

“The bullock cart visarjan is organised only by us. No other pandals organise such a procession in the national capital,” Samarendra Bose, a committee member of the Delhi Durga Puja Samiti, told IANS.

“And the Bhog! It is also a highlight of our celebration. Every year we feed the afternoon meal to around five to six thousand people. And on Ashtami (the eighth day), the turnout crosses more than 10,000. It’s a big responsibility on our shoulders and we make sure that everything goes smoothly during the Puja,” he said.

Also Read: Devotees Offer Prayers to Goddess Durga and Observe Fast for Nine Divine Nights, Starting Today

There’s quite a history attached to this Puja. Due to the efforts of an unnamed railway employee, the first Puja was organised in 1909 at the Roshanpura Kali Mandir near Nai Sarak. From 1913 to 1946, the Puja used to be organised in a dharamshala (community hall) near Fatehpuri Mosque. Later it was shifted to the Bengali Senior Secondary School at Alipur Road near Civil Lines but the nomenclature continued unchanged.

“In the initial years, the idol used to be brought from Benaras, but from 1926, the idol began to be made in the city itself. And now it’s made within the school premises,” Bose stated.

What hasn’t changed are the customs associated with the Puja. No matter how popular theme pujas are becoming, the Kashmere Gate Durga Puja continues to be a traditional one.

“Theme idols can never reflect the charm or the beauty of a traditional one. We don’t bring the idol from CR Park or Kolkata; rather it is made inside the school premises, like the way it happens in home Pujas,” Bose pointed out.

For the five days the Puja lasts, the atmoshphere within the pandal turns into a mini Bengal. From people clad in their traditional attire to cultural programmes and, of course, Bengali’s favourite cuisine — biryani — turns it into a major draw.

“We organise cultural programmes but only the local residents participate. We don’t invite artists (like most pandals do). Also, we make sure that at least during the five days, all the functions are conducted in Bengali,” Bose said.

The charm of this Durga Puja couldn’t even be ignored by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who visited the pandal in 1969. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is also believed to have attended the celebrations in 1935.

“The priest and the dhakis (drummers) have been brought from Kolkata. We make sure that there is no dearth of bhog. After all it’s a major attraction of Kashmere Gate Durga Puja,” Bose said.

So, make sure that Kashmere Gate Puja is on the must-visit pandals list this year! (IANS)