By Rashmi Ranjan Mohanty
Cuttack: “Bara masa re Tera Paraba” (13 festivals in 12 months), goes an Odia saying about the plethora of festivals in Odisha. And no place fits the description better than Cuttack, the old capital of the state with a rich history of over 1000 years.
People from every walk of life come together and celebrate the festivals in a grand way, justifying the sobriquet ‘City of Brotherhood’ that the city has earned over the years.
While Dussehra is being celebrated with customary zeal, the city on Tuesday came alive with people in large numbers thronging the numerous puja pandals –magnificent in marvellous decoration and sparkling lights – to offer prayers on the occasion of ‘Dashami’ also known as ‘Vijaya Dashami’. The atmosphere was one of devotion and religious fervour as people from all walks of life participated in the celebrations with equal enthusiasm.
With lakhs of people visiting the puja pandals, the organisers are competing with each other in offering gold and silver crowns to the deities and constructing welcome arches to outshine each other.
Dussehra is being celebrated at 154 puja pandals in the town. Goddess Durga is being worshiped at 74 pandals while the rest 80 pandals have Hara Parbati (Lord Shiva and Goddess Parbati), Kaliyta Dalana, Sri Chaitanya , Nitai Goura and Radha Krushna as the presiding deities.
While the city got 22 pandals decked up with intricate silver works in the hood of idol, three puja pandals in the town have given ‘golden’ touch to the presideing deities, leaving the pandal hoppers in the capital city spellbound.
Choudhury Bazaar Puja Committee which offered gold crown to the deities in 2002 to coincide with its golden jubilee, other organisers of Mangalabag Puja Committee and Sheikh Bazaar Puja Committee are also offering gold crowns to the deities to give the ‘golden’ touch their puja.
While the main crown of Goddess Durga of Mangalabag Puja Committee is made up of 2.5 kg gold, the other crowns which are made for Lord Ganesh, Kartik, Goddess Laxmi and Saraswati weighs little over 2.5 kg.
Similarly, Sheikh Bazaar had made a gold crown for Goddess Durga in 2008. A crown of 3.5 kg gold was made at a cost of Rs 28 lakh which continues to be the star attraction of Cuttak Dussehra.
Known for their impeccable dexterity, filigree artisans of Cuttak have always received appreciation worldwide.
Besides, some theme-based welcome gates made in the MIllenium City have made the passers-by to stop for a while and have a closer look at them.
While the Khannagar puja committee has paid tribute to the brave Indian soldiers by showcasing their difficult life at Tiger Hill and Siachen posts at its pandal, Badambadi is stuffed with rice light strings and the decorations include three massive light gates in addition to the replica of ISKCON temple at Mayapur in West Bengal.