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Kolkata throbs to the beat of dhaks as Durga puja festival begins today

Staff Reporter
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The entire city has been lit up with different kinds of illuminationleading to the 2,700-odd community puja pandals

Traditional drummers wait at the Sealdah Railway station in Kolkata on Wednesday for puja committees to book their services for the festival.— Photo: Sushanta Patronobish
Traditional drummers wait at the Sealdah Railway station in Kolkata on Wednesday for puja committees to book their services for the festival.— Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

The city, it seemed, just cannot wait any longer for the start of what is the biggest event in West Bengal’s social calendar — the five-day Durga puja festival that commences on Thursday.

 The anticipation was almost feverish on Wednesday and the city was already throbbing to the beat of the dhaks (traditional drums) outside the elaborately decorated puja pandals — a day ahead of Mahashashti that marks the beginning of the worship of Goddesss Durga.

 The entire city has been lit up with different kinds of illumination leading to the 2,700-odd community puja pandals across the city, giving them a festive look that even the uncertain weather could not dampen.

 There were teeming crowds in shopping malls and other market places as people went about their last-minute purchases on the eve of the festival.

Plethora of themes

 Other than the usual religious fervour centring around the rituals and worship, the community pujas have put up a plethora of themes — from rising crime against women to 100 years of Indian cinema — sending out a social message to those visiting the pandals.

 Lakhs to descend

on streets

With lakhs of people expected to descend on the city streets during the festival, the Kolkata police decided to deploy for the first time an aerial surveillance device that will send feeds to the police headquarters to help in crowd management.

 Ensuring smooth flow of traffic is a major challenge to the police and personnel will be deployed in full strength for this.

 Security is another concern and a strict vigil will be maintained outside major puja pandals, where crowds are expected throughout the night in the coming days.

Rain concerns

 Amid the anxieties over the weather and slight drizzles during the day there was some good news in the evening from the Regional Meteorological Centre at Alipore that forecast little possibility of heavy rains till Friday night.  Due to a cyclonic depression over the Bay of Bengal there might be heavy rainfall in certain coastal areas of the State on Saturday, an official said.

 Governor M.K. Narayanan who, over the past few days, inaugurated a number of community pujas, greeted the people of the State on the occasion in a statement issued during the day.

“The festival of Durga Puja provides a unique opportunity to the people to reaffirm their faith in secularism and national integrity. It fosters brotherhood and friendship among different sections of society irrespective of caste, creed and religion,” he said.

The festival will continue till October 14 — Dashami — the tenth day of the lunar calendar after which the idols of the Goddess will be immersed in river Hooghly.

Entire Kolkata has been lit up with different kinds of illumination

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