Bhubaneswar, Oct. 3: The Jharpada locality is holding its first ever Durga Puja, but it is as much a beginning as a closure.
The celebrations mark the end of a two-decade-old blood feud between the two most powerful families of the area, the Jenas and the Mangarajs.
After losing six young male members to the violence, the two landlord families’ elders had sat down to talk peace for the first time on August 23. The inspiration was the release of a few members from either family on bail.
When the talks ended, the families had not only buried the hatchet but also worked out a long-term business pact. Celebrations were in order, and the Jenas and Mangarajs decided to organise the joint Puja.
Residents are overjoyed. “It’s the prospect of peace in the area that really matters,” said Musharraf Khan, 41.
Sridhar Jena, the local corporator, said: “We had tried several times in the past to organise a Puja but it never materialised. This time everyone agreed, so we are celebrating. More than 200 youths from the area are working as volunteers to make the Puja a success.”
Sources said the two patriarchs, Shyam Sunder Jena and Ugrasen Mangaraj, who are childhood friends, played a pivotal role in fashioning the truce. “You can’t imagine how happy I feel today,” Shyam Sunder, 68, said. “Please don’t reopen the old wounds; we have already lost so much. I only hope that our younger generations live in peace and happiness.”
Ugrasen mirrored his friend’s feelings. “That was a costly misunderstanding. It has taken a heavy toll. We want to put all that behind us,” he said. “This Durga Puja festival has united us all.”
The huge pandal, designed by artists from Bengal, is attracting crowds. The logo of the Jharpada Durga Puja Samiti, formed by the two families, reads: “Unity brings progress.”
“Once the samiti was formed, people started contributing money on their own,” a source said. From the Rs 30 lakh collected, Rs 1 lakh has been donated to the chief minister’s relief fund.
Bulei Jana, an octogenarian resident of the area, said: “The village goddess, Adishakti, has been worshipped since time immemorial. However, the idol (built in the 15th century) now lies in the state museum. Now, with this Puja, Maa is being worshipped again.”