The incessant rain and high-speed winds accompanying cyclone Phailin turned Dussehra celebrations in Patna into a damp squib this year.
Though the weather in the state capital was dry on the first eight days of Navratri, most pandals bore a deserted look on Navami.
“Relentless showers prevented me from taking my children out for pandal-hopping this year. My office was closed on Sunday and Monday because of Dussehra. I did not think it prudent to venture out with children in such rainy weather,” said Sanjay Kumar, a resident of Boring Road.
Similar weather and mood were reflected across the state on Navami and Dussehra.
Many Puja samitis claimed that high-speed winds caused losses to light and sound equipment. “There was hardly any crowd at our pandal on Navami as compared to the earlier eight days. The decorator is asking for a compensation of Rs 30,000 for damage to his tent,” said Prashant Kumar, Jansadharan Puja Samiti, Punaichak.
The Ravanvadh could not be held at Gandhi Maidan despite being advanced by a day. The effigies of Ravan, Meghnad and Kumbhakarna could not be burnt on Navami evening owing to rain and strong winds. Anticipating bad weather, the Ramleela Committee had pre-poned the programme from Dashami to Navami. However, nature did not seem to be in the mood of allowing residents to celebrate the victory of good over evil.
Because of high-speed winds, Ravan’s effigy could only be raised from its waist. Though the committee workers poured several litres of kerosene on the three effigies but the rain and the winds hampered the Ramleela at the last moment. Despite repeated attempts, the workers could not torch the rain-soaked effigies.
On Monday, it was time for immersion of Durga idols on Dashami. Though it rained, most Puja samitis were determined to conclude the festivities with enthusiasm. They danced in the rain all the way to the ghats. The district administration had set up control rooms at Collectorate and Bhadra ghats for idol immersion.
Few Puja samitis, however, felt that the safety arrangements were not sufficient for idol immersion. “Despite such bad weather, there are hardly any divers. The number of police personnel was also inadequate to manage the crowds. The administration should have postponed the immersion by a day in such weather,” said Samrat Banerjee, a member of New Generation Durga Puja Samiti, Jakkanpur.
Most hangout spots were also deserted. Eco Park, usually teeming with visitors on Sundays, was almost empty on Navami and Dussehra. Cinepolis, the multiplex at P&M Mall, witnessed low footfall during the holidays.