A procession of Durga idols at Vani Vihar in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday. Picture by Ashwinee Pati
Cuttack/Bhubaneswar, Oct. 12: Durga Puja in the twin cities concluded peacefully with lakhs of devotees from various parts of the state attending the bhasani (immersion) ceremony that was observed with grandeur today.
However, tension had gripped Cuttack in the morning following a clash between residents of two localities - Samal Sahi in Pithapur and Jhola Sahi in Cuttack - over the ongoing sahi (lane) boundary dispute.
Police said trouble erupted after some criminals had ransacked an electronic gate installed by the Puja organisers of Jhola Sahi. Suspecting the involvement of their opponents, the youth from Jhola Sahi allegedly assaulted some Puja organising members of Pithapur - which escalated into a clash. Both the groups hurled stones and bottles at each other. The situation was brought under control after senior police officials rushed to the spot. "We had taken timely steps and deployed two platoons to avoid further clash," said Purighat police station inspector-in-charge Tapas Pradhan.
Senior police officials informed that nearly 65 platoons of police were deployed for the smooth conduct of the immersion ceremony in Cuttack, while 30 platoons were deployed in Bhubaneswar.
Over 50 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras were also installed at 18 locations in Cuttack, while extra force, including the strike force and quick action teams, were deployed at Buxi Bazar, Howrah Motors Chhak and Ranihat. As many as 85 idols out of 156 were immersed at the temporary ponds dug by the Cuttack Municipal Corporation at Debigada till filing of this report.
Similarly, the immersion procession for 172 idols in Bhubaneswar started this evening. Three makeshift ponds have been dug up near the banks of Kuakhai, Daya and Bhargavi rivers for idol immersion in the capital city.
On the other hand, most of the Puja organisers opted for traditional musical instruments rather than orchestra groups to bid adieu to the goddess. This change of choice was part of a pledge to organise the immersion ceremony with minimum noise pollution. Be it the ghoda nacha, dulduli or other traditional instruments, including conch and cymbals, were extensively used by several Puja committees for the third consecutive year.
A crane lifts an idol from a makeshift immersion pond on the banks of the Kathajodi river in Cuttack on Wednesday. Picture by Badrika Nath Das
Various troupes from Sambalpur, Balangir and other west Odisha districts staged a number of performing arts on the occasion. Over three lakh devotees thronged Cuttack to bid farewell to the goddess on the traditional immersion route from Ranihat to Debigada via Buxi Bazar and Choudhry Bazar.
In Bhubaneswar, the police have restricted plying of vehicles on the stretch between Vani Vihar Square and Rajmahal Square.
"As part of initiative to organise a peaceful immersion, we used only ghanta (cymbals) in our procession. The youth of the committee also refrained from dancing before the idol this year," said Khannagar Puja Committee secretary Prafulla Sahoo.
The Balu Bazar Puja Committee in Cuttack has been using traditional and organic colours for the past 15 years during the making of their idol for Durga Puja. Various other Puja committees have also started using organic colours in decorating their idols from this year, said Balu Baazar Puja Committee member Suryakant Sanganeria.
In another development, Nayapalli police have arrested five youths for allegedly trying to molest two girls near the Nayapalli pandal last night. A group of girls thrashed the youths when they passed lewd remarks to them and later tried to molest them.
"They passed lewd comments towards us near the Puja pandal at Baramunda and then followed us up to Nayapalli. As soon as we got down from the bus, they tried to molest us and we retaliated and handed them over to the police," said Ramarani Senapati.