Kolkata, Oct 3 (PTI) Braving rain, crowds swelled at the ornate Durga Puja pandals on Monday evening in Kolkata and across West Bengal after the ritualistic ‘pushpanjali’ (floral offerings) to the Goddess by worshippers in the morning of ‘Maha Ashtami’.
Festive fervour oozed all-around in the brightly illuminated city as revellers attired in their best descended on the streets to visit popular puja pandals, with the number of people increasing manyfold in the evening.
Following the Maha Ashtami puja in the early morning, worshippers gathered at their local puja pandals to offer ‘pushpanjali’ to Goddess Durga amid chanting of mantras (hymns) by the priest.
A forecast of rain by the Met department failed to deter the revellers as they appreciated the intricate artworks at the pandals after two years of Covid pandemic-related health safety restrictions.
All Durga Puja pandals in West Bengal had been made no-entry zones for members of the public in 2020 and 2021 on orders of the Calcutta High Court to curb the spread of Covid-19 infection due to crowding.
Light rain at some places in the city and suburbs in the evening caused traffic snarls and crowding in a few areas but the visitors braved such small deterrents to make a beeline to visit popular Durga Puja pandals, with many coming from the nearby districts also.
Suburban railway and the Metro services, apart from state transport and private buses, have been augmented to facilitate smooth movement of people.
Visitors thronged puja pandals also in other cities of the state, including Siliguri, Cooch Behar, Durgapur, Asansol, Bardhaman and Kharagpur.
In keeping with tradition, Kumari Puja was held in the morning at Ramakrishna Mission’s Belur Math in Howrah.
In a first, the ‘pushpanjali’ at some pandals was held with Bengali verses instead of Sanskrit, courtesy of an initiative to promote the mother tongue by some Sanskrit scholars and veteran priests.
The weather office has predicted heavy rain in the coastal districts of South 24 Parganas, Purba and Paschim Medinipur districts till Tuesday morning owing to a cyclonic circulation in the northwest Bay of Bengal.
Thunderstorms with lightning are likely at some places in Kolkata and nearby areas, it said.
The weather office has also forecast heavy rain in all the districts of north Bengal, including Darjeeling and Kalimpong, till Wednesday morning. PTI AMR NN NN
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Source: The Print