| An idol of Goddess Lakshmi at a pandal in Kendrapara and (below) a Puja mandap in Bhubaneswar. Telegraph pictures
Bhubaneswar/Dhenkanal/Kendrapada, Oct. 11: Goddess Lakshmi is being worshipped across the state with much enthusiasm as celebrations of Gajalakshmi Puja began on Tuesday.
Dhenkanal and the capital city are high on the spiritual essence and have been decorated with pandals and lighting. However, Kendrapara that is well known for Lakshmi Puja celebrations has made modest arrangements in the wake of the recent floods.
Dhenkanal city wears a magnificent look with attractive lighting and colourful decoration grandly observing the Puja. More than 60 idols are being worshipped here, the most prominent idol being the silver idol at Meena Bazaar, a crowd puller. Moreover, other prominent pandals are erected at Jabahar Chhak, Lakshmi Bazar, Ganesh Bazar, Baji Chhak, Mahabir Bazar, Bus stand, College Bazar, Anandabazar, Deulsahi, Annapurna Bazar and other places.
Police have made elaborate preparations to ensure a peaceful Puja. Thirteen platoons of police force had been deployed and CCTV cameras installed at many places, said Dhenkanal superintendent of police Satish Gajviye.
In Bhubaneswar, the major pandals that observe Gajalakshmi Puja have flaunted beautiful lighting. The Unit-IX Puja committee has especially made arrangements for visitors to worship the idol at the pandal. The idols at the pandals at Kharavela Nagar, Ashok Nagar and Bapuji Nagar, too, have been adorned with ornaments.
“We make sure to visit the pandals to worship the goddess and seek blessings of peace and prosperity,” said Manoranjan Rath, a Bhubaneswar resident.
However, the usual zeal is missing in Kendrapara. The devastating floods have cast a shadow on the weeklong celebrations here.
“Unlike past years, there has been considerably lower turnout of pandal hoppers from the rural areas as major portions of the district were hit by flood last month. In many areas, the flood-hit people are yet to pick up threads of life. This would definitely take sheen off the festivity,” said Harilal Agarwal, a Puja organiser.
“We are erecting mandaps. But, expenditures have been cut down for decorative arches and structural designing along the pandals,” said Nrusingha Patri, another Puja organiser.
This year, 63 Lakshmi idols have come up in the town amid tight security. “To ensure peace and harmony during the festival, security measures have been beefed up with deployment of 16 platoons of armed police,” said Kendrapara superintendent of police Narasingha Bhol.
Observed for 11 days in most parts of the state, the festival is believed to be associated with the birth of Goddess Lakshmi.