**Cuttack/Bhubaneswar:** Much prior to the grand puja of Goddess Durga on the auspicious occasion of Dusshera in the silver city of Cuttack and temple city of Bhubaneswar, plan of action is undertaken with utmost care by the respective managements and puja committees.
The millennium city of Cuttack, also world renowned for its intricate and lustrous filigree art, has carved a niche for its dazzling ‘chandi medha’ (silver tableau) at several mandaps (pious pedestals).
A case in point here is Ranihat’s ‘chandi medha’ at the backdrop and golden diadem (crown) worn by the mesmerizing clay idol of Goddess Durga.
Interacting with OMMCOM NEWS, Bijay Kumar Sahu, President of Ranihat Puja Committee said, “Donation here is voluntary. The residents and local businessmen voluntarily contribute to the Mother. It’s not an overnight affair rather an outcome of concerted efforts for years together. At last in 2004, the ‘chandi medha’ and ‘suna mukuta’ (golden crown) of the goddess could be materialised. Every year after the puja, silver and gold used to be purchased from the balance budget.”
On the security and safe storing of the treasure trove Sahu informed, “We’ve a strong room under the surveillance of six CCTVs. The CCTVs also cover the outer part of the mandap. Also two security personnel keep hawk eyes on for 365 days.”
In the capital city of Bhubaneswar too, yearlong preparation is made for celebrating the puja in a grand scale and earnest manner.
Briefing to OMMCOM NEWS Narayan Mohapatra, Secretary, Sahid Nagar Puja Samiti said, “Within March 31, we prepare a budget for the year. Our collection is once that caters to Durga Puja, Laxmi Puja and Kali Puja in turn. We don’t resort to different collections. Our general body meeting is held in April. We don’t have election, rather prefer selection. Suppose our annual budget is pegged at Rs 50-60 lakhs, we spend it on the three pujas, social activities, blood donation camp, relief work, etc., and for that the executive body plans ahead how to collect the earmarked amount. By May, we fix the budget and prior preparation is made for the ‘torana’ (façade) as now it is under the frantic spell of competition among the mandaps. If not planned much earlier, we won’t get the artisans for it at the eleventh hour. For that purpose we rope in workers from outside as they prove to be adept. We maintain a good rapport with our limited donors and always try to meet the expenses in the best way even from the minimum collections. By Maa’s grace, it has all run hassle-free for the last 39 years. Since last year, we’re having ‘chandi medha’ for which a lot of devotees have contributed wholeheartedly of their own. Kudos to the ‘bhakti’ (devotion) of people!”
Pabitra Mohan Behera, President, Nayapalli Durga Puja Samiti informed, “We convene meeting with commitment and conviction six months earlier. We prepare our budget for the current year’s puja. At the meeting, the members also volunteer their contributions. While some devotees bear the labour charges, some other devout devotees shoulder the expenses of ghee, rice, dal, bamboo, cloth, etc. For the ‘prasad seban’ and community feasting, there are also some donors. An average of Rs 20-28 lakhs budget is required.”
Saturday being the propitious moment of ‘maha saptami puja’ (splendid seventh day ritual of the deity during the ‘navratra’), mandaps are all abuzz with the solemnisation with right earnest and utmost devotion.
Bomikhal Durga Puja Samiti priest Rabindranath Mohapatra told OMMCOM NEWS, “Today is auspicious ‘saptami puja’. ‘Chakshyu Dan’ and ‘Prana Pratistha’ (invocation of the Divine Mother) is performed. Puja is underway in a grand manner. Ahead are also the propitious days of ‘astami’, ‘navami’ and ‘dasami’. ‘Maha Astami’ on Sunday, ‘Maha Navami’ on Monday and it’s the day of rest for the deity. On Tuesday, ‘purnahuti’ will be offered at 7 pm. Another important ritual ‘aparajita’ is also on the same day. Sacrifice for Maa Kali is also offered.”