[Watch] This Durga Puja Pandal In Bhubaneswar Recreates The Beauty Of Varanasi Ghats

Bhubaneswar: The countdown for the five-day-long festival of Durga Puja has finally begun. After a gap of two years when COVID-19 disrupted Durga Puja celebrations, Odisha’s twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack are gearing up to host one of the country’s biggest festivals once again with much fervour and gaiety.

This year, the five-day-long festival starts on October 1.

For various puja committees, it’s that time of the year again when they compete with one another to come up with the best pandal in town, paving the way for theme-based pandals over the years.

Among the theme-based pandals that is sure to draw the crowds this time is the Durga Puja pandal at Old Station Bazaar in the temple city. About 120-ft long and 40-ft high, the pandal recreates the beauty of Varanasi ghats.

“This year we have thought of a new concept for Old Station Bazaar by exhibiting Varanasi ghat as the theme,” the designer of the pandal Subhas Behera told Odisha Bytes. He is an alumnus of BK College of Art and Crafts.

“For the past two years people have not witnessed Durga Puja so we expect a huge crowd this year. Our committee members together decided to showcase Banaras Kashi this year as the pandal gate. Puja preparations began after Ganesh Puja,” Behera said.

The Sarbajanina Durga Puja Samiti of Old Station Bazaar has always tried to showcase unique ideas and themes in a very small area. “Around 50-60 per cent of the preparations are already over and we are expecting the unfinished work to get over in the next few days,” puja committee secretary Deepak Jena told Odisha Bytes.

The craftsmen are working round the clock to complete the decorations and other last-minute preparations.

“We have a special attraction for children this year — a light show of ‘Vikram and Betal’. The characters will come alive and play hide-and-seek with the Goddess,” Jena said.

He also spoke about plans to promote Durga Puja tourism this year. “We have arranged accommodation for visitors from outside the city as well as the state. We will facilitate their stay in Old Station Bazaar area. They have to send an e-mail mentioning the number of visitors and duration of stay,” he said.

In a unique move, this year pandal-hopping will be facilitated for children of jail inmates. “We focus more on the art and culture of Odisha and encourage local craftsmen to work on the Goddess’ idol. We are launching a website where tourists planning to visit our pandal can book their stay online,” said councillor of ward 45 Amaresh Jena.

A budget of Rs 40 lakh has been fixed for this year’s pandal preparation. Around 50 CCTV cameras will be installed in view of the huge crowd expected at the pandal. Apart from the teams of Commissionerate Police, approximately 200 volunteers of the puja samiti will be deployed for traffic management. Wheel-chair arrangements have also been made for senior citizens.

“For the last 15 years we have made a mark by executing different ideas and themes in Old Station Bazaar such as ‘Sholay’ movie and ‘Chota Mora Gaan Ti’, among others. We have not increased the budget for jewellery decoration as we will use the 2.5 quintal silver and 750 gm gold which we had before the COVID lockdown,” a committee member told mediapersons.

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