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Dashain spirit rules rival rallies
- Dancing to the Drum

Darjeeling, Oct. 18: Idol or shila, it didn’t matter to the 5,000-odd people who took out several phulpati processions in town today ushering in the festive mood.

Girls dressed in their traditional finery danced while young boys played the madal. Masked dancers entertained the crowd that had lined up to watch the rallies go by.

Subash Ghisingh had a last-minute surprise lined up this time too. Yesterday, the GNLF leader announced a one-day Durga Puja, using a shila, at Chowrastha here.

He had in the past introduced an 18-hand Durga idol (instead of the traditional 10 hands) and had completely replaced the idol with the shila (stone) in 2006.

The two big processions today were brought out by the DGHC and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). While the DGHC started its procession from near the Ava Art Gallery, the GJM, the newly formed party of Bimal Gurung, had Eden Dham as its point of origin.

Gurung, who was expelled from the GNLF recently, flagged off the procession from Nripendra Narayan Bengal Hindu Hall near Chandmari. He, however, did not take part in the rally, which ended at Mahakal Mandir.

The DGHC rally which had participants like Deepak Gurung, the president of the Darjeeling branch committee of the GNLF, and Pranay Rai, the Darjeeling MLA, ended at Chowrastha.

That the festive spirit was the binding force was evident from the number of processions that had come out.

People were not worried about aligning themselves on political lines especially with Subash Ghisingh springing a one-day Puja surprise and Gurung countering it with a phulpati procession.

Gurung was expelled for “anti-party” activities after he said the hills should accept nothing short of Gorkhaland.

The announcement came in the wake of the Union cabinet approval of the Sixth Schedule status — a GNLF trump card — for the hills.

“There is no time for politics during festivity. After all the Dashain is the biggest festival of our community and everyone is too busy to worry about such issues,” said Sujan Tamang, a housewife.

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