The five-day Dussehra festivities which were marred by cyclone Phailin came to end on Tuesday. Although the excitement and crowds were clearly missing in Milita Bhashani Utsab – united immersion ceremony – the religious zeal among devotees remained high and many of them were seen thanking the deity for diminishing the impact of the cyclone. “Cyclone has poured cold water on our plans. After devastation caused by the cyclone, we decided to keep the immersion ceremony low key,” said Gajendra Jena of Bomikhal Puja Committee here.

3 places attract people

As many as 15 Puja pandals had come together at Sahid Nagar as part of their united immersion ceremony. Three central locations – Sahid Nagar, Nayapalli and Chandrasekharpur – from where decorated idols were taken out towards different direction for immersion were centres of attractions. Despite pressing engagement in relief and restoration works, elaborate security arrangement was made to ensure that the Bhasani Utsab passed of peacefully. The idols were immersed in the rivers Daya and Kuakhai.

Twin furies

Our Cuttack Correspondent adds:

Battered by back-to-back twin furies of nature in the form of a severe cyclone and floods in which people across the length and breadth of the State are suffering, the puja committees of Cuttack observed the famous immersion festival of Durga puja in a very low-profile manner on Tuesday.

Shunning all lavish expenditure which is integral to the festival, the puja committees took out their tableaus after Bijoya Dasami on Monday and immersed the clay idols of the deities in water bodies in a simple way without any fanfare. Many puja committees even did not feel it necessary to go to the Devi Gada, on the bank of river Kathjodi to immerse the idols and completed the ritual at nearby water bodies.

Fire tenders

Since river Kathjodi is now filled to its brink due to the floods, the district administration has deployed fire tenders and ODRAF team along with earthmovers to meet any eventuality. The entire police force that was deployed in the city for the five-day puja was asked to help people in battling nature’s fury.

Meanwhile, the puja committees of the city have also decided to contribute generously to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to provide solace to the affected people. The Barabati Sarbadharma Sanskrutika Parishad, which holds the ‘Ravan Podi’ in the city in grand style every year, has suspended the ritual for the year. “We have suspended the ritual this year, in view of the cyclone and floods and have decided to contribute Rs 8 lakh to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund,” said the Parishad president Asirbad Behera in a press release.

Phailin casts shadow

Many puja committees have also decided to announce their quantum of contributions to the Fund after the ritual of immersion of the deities, informed the Mahanagar Peace Committee Secretary Bhikari Das on Tuesday.

It may be mentioned here that the five-day puja was also marred due to the cyclone. Prior to the cyclone, the puja committees dismantled their decorations from the puja mandaps and the mandaps wore a deserted look on Mahaashtami night, when the State was battered by cyclone Phailin.

People, however, managed to offer pujas on Mahanabami and Bijoaya Dasami on Sunday and Monday during day time. Thanks to the local electricity utility company, power was restored in many parts of the city within 24 hours of the cyclone and the puja revellers at least managed to go pandal-hopping on these two days braving intermittent rains, of course.

Religious zeal among devotees remained high and many of them were seen thanking the deity for diminishing the cyclone impact