Goddess’ Maha Ashtami rituals performed across Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Amid ‘hulahulis’ and chanting of the ‘chandi path’, devotees thronged various pandals and shrines across the State to offer specials prayers to Maa Durga on the auspicious occasion of Maha Ashtami today.

Adorned in new clothes, devotees were seen flocking the puja pandals since morning in Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Rourkela, Balasore, Sambalpur and other towns for the special ‘Sandhi Puja’.

As per sources, the Sandhi Puja rituals are being carried out when the Ashtami tithi ends and Ram Navami tithi starts and it is considered to be very auspicious. This year Ashtami tithi ended at 12:49 PM.

Weapons of the Goddess were also worshiped as per the rituals on the Maha Ashtami day called ‘Astra Puja’.

Mostly the women were seen thronging various pandals in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, who later offered saree, ‘chunri’, ‘sankha’ and ‘sindur’ to the Goddess and prayed for the well-being of their families. Several pandals also followed the practice of offering a special ‘Ashtami Bhog’.

Meanwhile, all the puja committees have made extensive arrangements to ensure hassle-free darshan of the deity.

“Today is Maha Ashtami and we are expecting women devotees in huge numbers. In view of this, we have installed CCTV cameras to keep a tab on the movement of the devotees and ensure security to women. We have also deployed women volunteers to control the crowd,” said a member of the Nayapalli Puja Committee in Bhubaneswar.

On the occasion of Saptami on Tuesday, huge crowd had gathered at various mandaps and pandals in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.

Around 176 puja mandaps have been set up in Bhubaneswar this year, while in Cuttack 166 pandals have been set up..

“While 24 puja mandaps in Cuttack have chosen silver backdrops for the deities, nine of them have given a golden touch to the idols. Over Rs 38 crore has been spent on the filigree work alone. For the jewellery of the deities, the organisers across 166 mandaps have spent at least Rs 18 crore,” informed secretary of Mahanagar Puja Committee Bhikari Das to PTI.

The Commissionerate Police has also issued guidelines imposing restrictions on the movement of traffic in the twin city Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. CCTV cameras have been installed at different key locations to keep a watch on the criminal activities.