Durga Puja festivities kick off today

SHILLONG, Oct 1: Unbridled by the vexatious pandemic which had taken its toll on merry-making and celebrations for the past two years, Durga Puja festivities this year is all set to kick off with vigour from Sunday. After two years of restricted celebration due to COVID-19, the mood in the city is now festive and buoyant.
Although celebrations will begin from Sunday, all puja pandals donned eccentric decorations and were well illuminated on Saturday too.
Even devotees were seen flocking pandals as different Durga Puja committees were making final preparations for a grand celebration.
As such, Police Bazar and Iewduh have been witnessing rush of people thronging the two major markets before puja begins.
Shopkeepers have reported their sales to have picked up slightly in the last few days. However, they have one complaint — with regard to online shopping; shopkeepers feel online purchasing has affected their business.
In Khasi Hills, there are 126 community puja pandals, 11 in Jaintia Hills and 120 in Garo Hills districts; with many of the puja committees celebrating their silver, golden jubilee and even diamond jubilee.
General secretary of the Central Puja Committee (CPC), JL Das, on Saturday said puja celebrations will be different this time as there are no strict curbs.
According to Das, there is an anticipation that more number of people will come out of their homes to take part in the festivities.
Notwithstanding the pomp, long queues of traffic have become a regular affair in view of the puja celebrations and the condition is likely to persist as the city is expected to log high footfall.
CPC general secretary Das has advised people not to take out their vehicles and walk instead, while informing that Shillong Public Transport Service (SPTS) buses would ferry the public during the celebrations.
The number of tourists arriving in the state has also recorded a spike.
Hotelier Parambir Singh has confirmed that the flow of tourists has improved in Shillong during the puja celebrations.
Different kinds of competitions have also been planned in different puja pandals. The popular drum-beat competitions will be held at Puja Pandal of Rilbong Durga Puja Committee, Rilbong, from 10 am on October 3.
It may be mentioned that a series of routine joint meetings between CPC, puja committees and the District Civil & Police Administration has been held which deliberated over issues relating to the peaceful celebration. District police administration will deploy round-the-clock security at all puja pandals in Greater Shillong region as well as other district/sub-division of the state during the ensuing puja days.

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