In Pictures: Gajalaxmi Puja Begins In Odisha’s Dhenkanal Sans Frills

Dhenkanal: The annual Gajalaxmi Puja began here without the traditional fervour amid COVID-19 guidelines and protocols. All the 38 puja committees stuck to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) issued by the administration while observing the rituals.

Clearly, the pandemic has robbed the most anticipated annual event for the people of Dhenkanal. Gajalaxmi Puja celebrations in Dhenkanal is almost a century-old tradition. Every year, Goddess Laxmi is worshipped here for 11 days from the day of Kumar Purnima. This is followed by Visarjan Utsav with a huge street carnival.

Every year, tens of thousands of devotees throng the town to catch a glimpse of the goddess.

During these 11 days, the city wears a festive look, stretching from College Bypass to Korian Bypass. Both sides of the road are decorated with colourful and illuminating lights.

However, everything is different this year. The grandeur is missing. The height of the idols is restricted to 4ft while the pandals are covered on all four sides. Public congregation has been prohibited. The puja is only being observed to save years of old tradition and rituals.

Biswanath Behera, president of the Militi Bazaar Puja Committee said, “We are celebrating the puja with full compliance to the guidelines issued by the administration. Decorations and lighting in and around the pandals have been kept minimal. Only seven persons are allowed to perform the rituals.”

The puja will continue till November 8 without any public participation. There will ‘visarjan utsav’ on November 9 in compliance with the guidelines issued by the administration.

Story and picture credit: Abinash Sahu

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