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Ramakanta Biswas

Bhubaneswar: Festivities permeated the air today on the occasion of Maha Saptami, the second day of Durga Puja celebrations as devotees in large number thronged various puja pandals across the state and offered prayers.

In the capital city, people along with friends and families visited the beautiful pandals, which were reverberating with chants of mantras (hymns) and the sound of gongs.

As per the rituals, Goddess Durga descended onto the earth yesterday on the occasion of Maha Sasthi which marks the beginning of the celebration of this grand festival. This year, goddess Durga is being worshipped at 172 pandals in the Capital City and 162 pandals in the Silver City of Cuttack.

In Cuttack, the pandals are drawing huge crowd with their gold and silver ornamentation and decoration. Similarly, the beautiful pandals made on themes replicating the architecture of various famous temples and buildings have also turned out to be major attractions among visitors.

At Padampur royal palace in Keonjhar, Durga Puja is being celebrated as per the royal traditions. Organised since ancient times, Durga Puja is celebrated in much fervour and gaiety here. People in large numbers visit the royal palace to witness the festival. A unique ritual of 'Khanda Dhua' (ceremonial washing of the swords) is organised at the palace during Durga Puja. After the cleaning of the swords and other weapons used during by the royals during their rule, they are taken on a grand procession. The palace which remains closed for public throughout the year, is opened during Durga Puja.

Similarly, Maa Sarala pitha in Jhankad of Jagatsinghpur witnessed footfall of a large number of devotees on the occasion of Durga Puja. Devotees thronged the shrine to have darshan of the goddess. Maha Ashtami was celebrated at the shrine today.

Meanwhile, the Commissionerate Police has relaxed the timings of musical shows during the Durga puja celebrations in the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. Now, the puja committees can organise musical programmes till 12 AM instead of earlier restriction of 10 PM.

Twin city police commissioner, Sudhanshu Sarangi made an announcement in this regard today and said the earlier norms have been relaxed keeping in view the Durga Puja celebrations.

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