The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rain dampens festive spirit
- Low budget pandals & traditional themes rule in Tripura

Agartala, Oct. 9: Kaash flowers sway in the gentle autumnal breeze, heralding the goddess’ homecoming. But untimely showers have dampened the festive fervour in Tripura this time around.

A day ahead of the actual commencement of ritual Durga Puja festivity, the state witnessed 50mm of rainfall. A depression in the Bay of Bengal has made the officials of the meteorological department less confident of their forecasts: “Whether the weather gods will relent during Durga Puja is difficult to predict at this stage.”

Besides, with Assembly lections just four months away, a rise in the political barometer has also cast a shadow over the festivities.

Two major rallies — one organised by the Tripura Tribal Land Restoration Committee and the other by the CPM — paralysed normal life here, bringing business transactions to a total halt for six hours. This was preceded by a youth and women’s rally. The Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT) is slated to organise another massive rally tomorrow at the Stable ground.

Amid the political din and bustle, the preparation for the Puja festivities is subdued. As in previous years, more than 3,000 community Pujas will be organised by clubs across the state while the number of Pujas has gone up to 300 in and around this capital city.

“These are the Pujas for which formal permission has already been sought and given. The number may go up because some applications were received quite late,” police sources said.

Keeping in view the dormancy of militant presence, the security set-up will leave nothing to chance to ensure a smooth and peaceful Puja. “Maximum security arrangements will be made and traffic police will ensure smooth movement of people and vehicles,” a police source said, adding that details of deployment were being worked out.

A new feature of Durga Puja this year is that most of the major clubs in the capital town have slashed their budgets in response to an appeal made by chief minister Manik Sarkar. Famous for organising big budget Pujas, the Aikatan Yuba Samstha in Shantipara area has this year slashed its budget to Rs 14 lakh and is planning to make the entire pandal with glass and colourful decorations.

Traditional themes continue to dominate pandal construction. Grandiose Club in the Maharajganj Bazar area of the town is creating a replica of the famous Sun Temple of Konark at their pandal.

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