Cuttack: “Bara Masa Re Tera Paraba” (13 festivals in 12 months)... So goes the Odia proverb on the series of festivals celebrated in the culture-rich state. And no place fits into the description better than Cuttack, the ancient capital city of the State with a rich history spanning for over 1,000 years.
There is a god or goddess for every occasion and every section of the society celebrates the festivals with gaiety and religious harmony in the city. People from all walks of life come together and celebrate the festivals in a grand way, justifying the sobriquet ‘City of Brotherhood’ which Cuttack earned over the years.
However, 2020 is going to be very different for ‘Katakias’ and, all thanks to the pandemic. Even though the festive fever has gripped the city, netizens are barred from pandal hopping as mandaps are performing the Durga Puja in closed doors this year.
With the restrictions are in place, the roadside vendors, who set up food stalls during the 10-day puja celebrations and cater to the needs of the visitors, are uncertain about their business. The fear of contamination, coupled with the restrictions imposed by the administration, has compounded their woes, said the traders.
Preeti Sen, who has been running a restaurant since the last three years near Shelter Chaak, said, "I had good business in the last the two Durga Pujas. From Navmi the business gains momentum and reaches its peak on Bhasani (immersions). But due to corona this year, my restaurant has been witnessing very less footfall on any average day this year. Hence, the chances making good business during this puja season are very dim."
"I regularly set up a dahibara and aludum stall during Durga Puja. However, I am unsure about putting up a stall this year due to the pandemic. As restrictions are in force, it will be difficult for us to sale eatables," said Kalia Sahoo, a dahibara, aludum seller.
Echoing in the same voice, Karuna, a chat stall owner in Chandinchowk area said, "Our business is down since long as people prefer not to eat outside food fearing contamination. I was hoping a turnaround during the Puja. But following the government decision to bar congregation of devotees at the mandaps, I have given up hopes."