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Lakshmi pandals draw crowd

Bhubaneswar, Oct. 22: The Lakshmi Puja pandals in the city compensate for the spoilt Dussehra revelry owing to Phailin.

Though the scale of the pandal decoration may not be as big as it is for Durga Puja, the festive mood seems to be good enough for families to come out for pandal-hopping. Something they missed during the last festival.

The 11-day Gajalakshmi Puja that is simply known as Lakshmi Puja commenced on Friday. Last Sunday, the rush on roads grew as parents took their kids throughout the city’s pandals.

“Phailin destroyed all our plans for Dussehra. But since the festive feeling is more visible now, we planned to go around the city to enjoy what we missed out during Durga Puja,” said Pramod Bohidhar, a businessman.

Large idols of Goddess Lakshmi have been set up with austere decorations at many spots across the city. The light arrangements, however, add a colourful ambience and make the atmosphere festive.

The pandals in most areas such as Vani Vihar, Nayapalli, Sriya Square and so on have been made with humble decorations. Even Ashok Nagar and Kharavela Nagar puja arrangements, that are usually quite lavish, have been hosted with not much grandeur. However, the most famous Lakshmi Puja pandal that is set up at Bapuji Nagar, lives up to its fame. This year the Bapuji Nagar Youth Association that has hosted its 48th annual Lakshmi Puja has a huge pandal made with special grass. Designed like a bungalow with exquisite interiors, it is the most striking pandal in the city this year.

“We have only invested in a grand pandal, and that too, with much less budget compared to previous years. We have planned to contribute to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund,” said association secretary Nihar Patnaik.

Police said that including the small and big Puja set-ups, the number of idols hosted during the ongoing Laxmi Puja sum up to over 70. “This year, the number of Puja pandals have grown in number for this festival. We had received at least 80 applications for permission,” said a police official. While Dussehra is usually the grandest festival hosted by city-based associations, this year, Lakshmi Puja has definitely exceeded the grandeur of Dussehra in the city.