Cuttack: Amid ceremonial chants, Goddess Durga was welcomed along with Ganesh, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Karthikey at different pandals of the silver city on Sasthi.
The otherwise vibrant celebrations wore a sombre look amid COVID-19 pandemic. The devotees, however, kept the festive spirit alive in their hearts and minds and prayed Maa Durga to free them of the novel coronavirus scare.
OMMCOM NEWS spoke to some of the people who are used to celebrating the auspicious festival in a pompous manner, and as they talk, they explain how the festivities are going to differ this year amid the coronavirus scare.
The height of the idols of the Goddess was restricted to four-feet and any public congregation has been banned near the mandaps. After pran pratistha ritual, to further discourage the public from paying respects, the pandal organising committees have curtained the main mandap. Additionally, police forces have been deployed in the periphery to prevent crowding.
This year instead of people brushing past each other to catch a glimpse of the Goddess, the mandaps only have selective committee members and priest.
Maheshwar Das, who is an accountant of Bidyadhar Puja Committee said that they are strictly abiding by restrictions imposed by the State Government. He added that the puja is a celebration of Maa Durga’s arrival but also a symbol of communities coming together.
Nua Bazar Puja Committee’s General Secretary Umesh Chandra Sahoo said, ”The festivities are a low-key this year owing to the pandemic. We have received ample support from Police and local administration. Our only prayer is that next year we will be able to celebrate in the usual grand manner.”
Durga Puja has never been just a festival in Odisha, it is a symbol of unity, enthusiasm, fraternity and brotherhood, a representation of rich Odia culture and heritage.
Along the same lines, a devotee Atuya Kumar Das urged Maa Durga to end the pandemic and prayed for health and prosperity for all.
This year, the Durga Puja festivities are dampened a bit, because of the pandemic. However, devotees are hopeful that the next year will be celebrated with great fervour and they aspire to bid the deadly virus goodbye.