Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Oct 3:
With puja committees in the Odisha capital engaged in a fierce battle to outdo each other in pomp and ostentation, pandals in the city have got bigger and better this year.
Pabitra Mohan Behera, president of the Nayapalli puja committee, boasts that Rs 25 lakh was spent on erecting the 25-feet high pandal, which resembles the iconic Laxmi Vilash Palace hotel in Udaipur, this year. “We hired artisans from Kolkata to construct the pandal,” says a proud Behera.
The idol at the Sahid Nagar mandap, one of the oldest in the city, is smaller (14 feet) than the one at Nayapalli. But at 75 feet, the pandal more than makes up for the relatively smaller size of the idol. The intricate jari work that marks the pandal bears the unmistakable touch of master craftsmen from Cuttack.
The 70-feet high pandal at Rasulgarh, shaped like the famous Buddha Mandir of Sikkim, has been decorated with a silver and tin coatm on the outer walls. The 18-feet high idol placed inside has been drawing people in droves.
Thousands of devotees have been visiting the mandap every day. The crowd gets particularly big in the evenings. You can see people streaming in till very late in the night,” says a visibly ecstatic Pradeep Barisal, president of the Rasulgarh Durga Puja Parichalana Committee.
“We have spent approximately Rs 30 lakhs towards construction of pandal and paying the craftsmen from Kolkata,” he adds.
There are other big pandals in the city too, notably in Master Canteen Square, Bapuji Nagar and Old Town.
While not every pandal had the kind of budget that the bigger and older puja committees had, no efforts have been spared by the smaller ones to attract devotees.
There are a total of 167 pandals in the capital city this year – 57 of them belonging to the ‘A’ category, 65 to ‘B’ category and 47 to ‘C’.