Rashmi Ranjan

A renewed enthusiasm has gripped devotees as Durga Puja celebrations have kicked off in major cities across the State. Festivities have gathered steam after a lull of two long years courtesy Covid-19 pandemic.

All major cities in Odisha have turned bright and colourful. Shopping malls, sweet shops, gift corners and other business outlets are witnessing heavy footfalls of customers.

Needless to say, Millennium city Cuttack which is synonymous with Durga Puja is making all efforts to make the festival grand. The puja in the city is famous for umpteen reasons, as decorations range from gold and silver filigree backdrops to sky-kissing theme-based gates. 

However, one lesser known fact, which has been a part of the century-old tradition associated with Durga Puja, is the use of flags during the immersion ceremony. 

Significance of flags

The flags used during puja and immersion ceremony help the crowd identify idols of different Puja committees. 

Different puja committees take out flags of different colours, symbols with special mentions on it helping people identify the idols.

"Apart from banners, puja committees in Cuttack carry giant flags with special symbols and pictures of Goddess Durga which make it easier for people to identify the idols of puja committees," said Debendra Nath Sahoo, Cuttack Mahanagar Shanti Committee president.

Tailors have a tough time 

While preparations have reached crescendo at most of the pandals in the State, artisans in the Millennium City of Cuttack are working round the clock to meet the deadline. But unfortunately, the contribution of these artisans, who play a major role in making the puja a huge success, has allegedly remained unrecognized so far. 

A tailor family in Cuttack's Darji Sahi has been providing flags of all sizes to various puja pandals for over several decades. These flags are used during Dussehra and immersion procession.

"Earlier, my grandfather used to stitch flags for the puja which subsequently my father followed. My father and I used to make flags but after his death due to Covid-19, I have taken up the responsibility of making flags," said Santosh Kumar Moharana.

“In the aftermath of Covid-19, Odisha witnessed low-key Durga Puja celebrations for two consecutive years. But this year, I received a good order and my entire family is busy making the flags before the deadline," Moharana added.

"I received orders from around 10 puja committees and I need to deliver around 200 flags. With very less time left for puja and immersion ceremony, I along with my family members have been working round the clock to ensure timely delivery," he stated.