Bhubaneswar: 22/10/23:Dussehra celebrations in Odisha capital got bigger this year with a whopping 185 pandals. While Maha Navami puja is underway at ‘shakti pithas’ on Sunday, thousands are thronging mandaps, where rituals of Maha Astami are being conducted, in the city.
The 78 feet tall and 100 feet wide pandal set up by Damana Gopinath Jew Durga Puja committee here is an imaginary replica of Virata Raja Palace from the Mahabharata.
It was in the court of King Virata that the Pandavas spent a year in exile. Around 25 artisans from West Bengal started working on the Pandal on September 4, using bamboo, wooden planks, plywood, cloth, glass and thermocol.
The committee is also organising melody and cultural programmes.
The Goddess here is being worshipped in the Hastinapur Palace-themed pandal adorned in brick red and yellow hues, emulating the grandeur of the palace as depicted in BR Chopra’s popular television serial Mahabharat. The pandal is 75 feet tall and 120 feet wide. A team of 40 craftsmen from West Bengal slogged for nearly two months to build this massive structure.
The altar is 18 feet high and the Goddess Durga, for the first time, is seen here wearing a silver crown of 7 kg. The 10 ft idol has been sculpted by sculptors from Cuttack led by Sitan Behera.
“This year we’re celebrating 60 years of Durga Puja at Bomikhal. Governor Gansehi Lal is scheduled to visit the Mandap on the occasion of Vijay Dasami,” said committee president Prakash Chandra Jena.
Melody and cultural programmes have been arranged here for five days.
To celebrate woman empowerment with the recent passing of the woman reservation bill, Nayapalli Durga Puja Samiti has created a replica of the famous ‘Mani Mandir’ of Gujata built in 1935 by Thakor Saheb Sir Waghji to immortalise his love for his wife Manibai.
The 85-feet-high and 120-ft-wide pandal with 14 idols, including that of two dancers, has been created by over 30 artisans from West bengal. Non-harmful materials have been used to design the pandal. The height of the idol of the goddess is close to 15 feet.
Free prasad sevan is being organised for thousands of devotees every day till Dasami. There will also be melody and cultural programme. Ramlila will begin today.
A Golden Palace-themed pandal has been erected here with focus on decoration and portrayal of mythological characters and tribal culture in illumination.
Around 50 artists from West Bengal have built this 85 feet tall and 150 feet wide pandal. While the altar is 20 feet high, the idol is 12 feet tall. Goddess Durga and other deities are decorated with silver ornaments.
Melody and cultural programmes are also being organised here.
A 22-feet tall tableau has been created here by a group of craftsmen from Cuttack, using dry fruit shells collected from tribal-dominated districts of the state.
While the theme of the pandal is Mahalaxmi Temple of Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh, the art on the gate as well as in the interior have been made from shells of nearly eight to nine varieties of dry fruits by 25 artisans from West Bengal.
The idol has also been sculpted by master craftsmen from Cuttack. The puja here involves a unique tradition, with the garland from the Narayani Pitha of Balugaon being placed on the idol of goddess Durga.
“We wanted to make our pandal free of plastic this time for which the idea of dry fruit was proposed and brought to reality,” said joint secretary Smaran Lenka.
The 85 ft high and 120 ft wide pandal here is a replica of a castle, having the design of a temple. The idol of Goddess Durga is 12 ft high and adorned with a gold crown weighing around 1.5 kg. The silver tableau is 15 ft, weighing 170 kg.
This year, Saheed Nagar Durga Puja Samiti is focussing on rituals and prasad to be offered to Goddess Durga. Kakara and other such traditional food items including khichdi, dalma and kheer prepared in pure ghee are being offered to the deity. “Since the market is flooded with duplicate food items and products for puja, our staff collected these essentials including desi ghee, sandalwood and firewood for ‘Homa’ and ‘Yajna’ with the help of villagers,” said secretary of Saheed Nagar Durga Puja Samiti Sachinandan Nayak.
They are also selling the prasad to devotees at the pandals, apart from distributing it free for around 1,000 people.
A Taiwan Buddha Temple-themed pandal has been erected here. More than 35 artisans from West Bengal slogged for last two months to set up the pandal, which is 65 feet high and 120 feet wide.
The 20 feet idol of Goddess Durga has also been crafted by an artist from Bengal. The medha is around 24 feet high. Special bhog consisting of a variety of pithas will be offered to the Goddess on Nabami and ‘dahi pakhala’ on Dasami. Devotees visiting the pandal will be given prasad till Dasami.
Melody and cultural programmes are being organised with various artists, actors and singers entertaining the visitors. The committee said that the bhasani procession will also be taken out in a grand manner and Naga Sadhus from Jajpur and Keonjhar will be part of it.
OLD STATION BAZAAR
Mesmerising underwater scenes of Dwarka Nagari, which is believed to have sunk in the Arabian Sea, have been created inside the 154 feet wide and 40 feet high pandal here, while depicting the grandeur of the City of Joy with hand-pulled rickshaws, Ambassador cars and tramway and also Kolkata’s Bowbazar on the front of the mandap.
It is 68th year of the Puja.
Sarbajanina Durga Puja Samiti of Old Station Bazaar have also engaged six women volunteers to highlight West Bengal’s traditional dress style.
Besides this pandal, Communal harmony is the hallmark of District Centre Owners’ Association Puja Committee at Chandrashekharpur. This puja was started in 2008 after getting a proposal from a Muslim resident Sahjahan SK. He is a member of the Puja committee too.
Meanwhile, the Commissionerate Police has deployed adequate women police officers at five major Durga Puja pandals — Nayapalli, Saheed Nagar, Jharpada, Rasulgarh and Palasuni — for the safety of female devotees. They will be stationed in uniform and in civilian clothes. “These five specific pandals will have additional women police personnel as the footfall is massive every year. We will leave no stone unturned to ensure the safety of devotees,” said Commissioner of Police Saumendra Priyadarsi.
Six control rooms have also been set up at major puja mandaps, like Nayapalli, Saheed Nagar, Rasulgarh, Baramunda, Jharapada and Old Station Bazar.At least 13 mobile parties have been formed for sectoral patrolling.