Kolkata, Oct 23 :
Amid prayers and a plethora of glimmering fireworks, West Bengal celebrated Diwali and Kali Puja Thursday with enthusiasm and fervour.
As the sun set, clay lamps (diyas) and streams of tiny lights lit up the eastern metropolis while pyrotechnics provided a stunning backdrop.
Durga Puja is the biggest festival in West Bengal. However, Kali Puja celebrations are in no way low-key.
People across the state exchanged sweets and savouries with friends, neighbours and relatives. The festival saw the mingling of a sizeable population of non-Bengali communities (Marwari, Gujarati, Bihari) and Bengalis across the state to celebrate Diwali.
Thousands of people visited Kalighat and Dakshineswar Kali temples since morning to offer prayers to the goddess on this auspicious day.
Long queues were seen at Tarapith temple near Rampurhat in Birbhum district, where lakhs of pilgrims converged to seek blessings of the goddess.
Children helped their parents put up glittery decorations in their homes. An array of crackers – torches, sparklers, flowerpots, rockets – spread cheer among revellers as they burst into colourful sparks against the night sky.
To prevent firecracker-related injuries and health hazards, alert citizens followed tips and advice issued by doctors.
Anupam Golash, senior consultant for plastic surgery at CMRI Hospital, advised against wearing synthetic garments, and keeping a bucket of water handy.
Girls and women showcased their artistic skills through variety of colourful Rangolis (folk art patterns created on the floor using coloured rice, flour, coloured sand and flower petals).
Cultural programmes were organised, and people thronged community pandals (marquees) dressed in their best ethnic wear.
Apart from community pandals, Kali Puja is also performed at houses. Family members pitched in to arrange items for the rituals and the Prasad (food offering to the deity).
The festivities have kept the city administration on its toes. Authorities have banned crackers emitting over 90 decibel of sound to control noise pollution.
The West Bengal Pollution Control Board has urged the residents to observe the norms for a safe Diwali.