Kolkata, Sep 30 (IANS) Devotees thronged marquees and community pujas across West Bengal on Saturday to bid farewell to Goddess Durga on “Vijaya Dashami”, the last day of the festival.
With anticipation of the homecoming of the deity next year, married women decked in the ritualistic red-and-white saris marked the event with the customary “Sindoor Khela” or smearing each other and the idols with red vermillion to prepare Goddess Durga and her four children — Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartik — for their return to their heavenly abode on Mount Kailash.
As part of the observances, enthusiasts cutting across religious and age barriers indulged in “dhunuchi naach” – dancing to the beat of the ‘dhaak’ (drums) holding aloft earthen bowls laden with incense and camphor.
Decorated with lights and garlands at the entry gate, the prominent river banks in the city bore a festive look, poised for the immersion ceremony on Saturday afternoon. The drum players, busy playing the signature tune of ‘Visarjan’ (ritual of immersion), made way for the idols to be carried into water.
Young and old devotees joined hands to complete the final rituals before immersing the goddess at the end of the five day festivity. Some teenagers were busy clicking selfies with the goddess smeared with vermilion and flowers.
At Babughat, one of the prominent immersion banks in Kolkata, the immersion started from around 2 p.m., which was halted for nearly half an hour due to a sudden shower. Several household and housing complex pujas gathered at the entry gate with the face of the idols covered in plastic. The immersion restarted after the rainfall had reduced.
“We all wait for this festival every year as it is so close to our hearts. It seems the four days of the puja gets over in the blink of an eye and on ‘Dashami’ we all come here with a heavy heart as our mother is going away,” said a veteran member of central Kolkata’s Mukherjee family where the goddess is being worshiped for the last 75 years.
“We all shall eagerly wait again for the next year. This festival is so special because it brings joy to everyone across the society,” he added.
An amount of enthusiasm could be seen among the youngsters present at the river banks as some of them have come to watch the immersion for the first time. After four days of pandal hopping, they were busy capturing the ritual in their cameras.
“I have heard about the wonderful immersion ceremony here in Kolkata. Last year I watched the pandals here but missed out on this part. So this year I have come to Babughat with my uncle. The emotion around the festival is wonderful,” said Amit Parekh who stays in Delhi.
A salient feature at Babughat was the alacrity with which the premise was being promptly cleaned by the 20 KMC workers after each idol was placed in the river. The flowers and debris are washed away and the structures removed to prevent river pollution.
Tight security arrangements were made on all the ghats. Police vans were posted at the entry gates and the boats were kept ready in case of any emergency.
With most of the community pujas opting not to immerse the goddess on Saturday and Sunday, the tenth day of Muharram, the rush at the river banks were relatively less.
Before the pujas, the West Bengal government had issued a notice prohibiting the Durga idol immersion after 6 p.m. on September 30 (Dashami) and for the entire day on October 1, the ‘Ashura’ day of Muharram, observed as a solemn day by Muslims.
However, the Calcutta High Court rejected the state government’s directive and permitted the idol immersion to take place on all days till midnight starting from Dussehra.
According to the police, the popular dates of immersion would be on October 2 and 3. However there would be around 8-10,000 personnel posted at the immersion banks to avoid any untoward incidents.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wished people on the occasion through a Twitter post. Former India captain Saurav Ganguly also took to twitter to everyone well on the auspicious occasion.
At the prominent community pujas in the city, enthusiasts queued up even on Saturday to complete their last round of pandal hopping.
There were long queues before sweet shops as people started visiting relatives and friends to wish each other “Shubho Bijoya (Happy Vijaya Dashami)”.
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