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Crowds even bigger on Panchami

This year initiatives have been taken by various puja organisers in Bengal to make the biggest festival of the region eco-friendly.

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

The revellers hit the streets on Panchami evening, taking advantage of the dry weather for most part of the day.

The city streets, crammed with pandal-hoppers from north to south, witnessed traffic jams as vehicular movement slowed down in many parts of the city.

Although the early morning hours of Panchami saw rainfall which initially threatened to dampen the Puja spirits, the crowds swelled on the roads and in front of the puja pandals as the day progressed and the weather improved.

Apart from the visitors to the pandals, many people returning from work joined in the pandal-hopping spree in the evening as the festive mood pervaded.

The surge of revellers had started from Tritiya as most of the big-ticket puja pandals were thrown open to the public then.

Over the last two days, the crowds have continued to grow.

Even though commuters faced immense trouble due to the restriction on plying of buses on Talla bridge as many routes have been diverted, there were no shortage of pandal-hoppers.

“I have started visiting the puja pandals from yesterday evening as I am worried about the forecast of rain during the Puja days. I have already visited many puja pandals of South Kolkata such as Suruchi Sangha, Chetla Agrani, Deshapriyo Park, Ekdalia Evergreen, Jodhpur Park, Tridhara Sammelani. I want to avoid the congestion during the Puja days and spend time in my neighbourhood,” said Pinaki Roy, a resident of Khanna.

“The crowd today is more than yesterday and there seems to be no end to the line of visitors. It seems as if it is Saptami or Ashtami and not Panchami,” said a volunteer in front of a North Kolkata puja pandal.

Police were out on the streets with special security arrangements in place at 180 major big-budget Pujas and other smaller community pujas.

The police have also beefed up security at key Metro rail stations and major roads of the city.

Police have also decided to post special teams for vigil near pandals during the late hours to prevent any untoward incident.

More than 18,000 officers were deployed for crowd management today while the traffic department has posted 3000 officers to manage traffic.

The anti-rowdy squad of Kolkata Police has also set up special team for the safety and security of puja revellers.

The major crowd-pullers this year so far have been Sreebhumi Sporting Club, Dum Dum Park Bharat Chakra, Lake Town Adhibasi Brinda, Tala Barowari, Hatibagan, Bagbazar Sarbojanin, Chaltabagan Lohapatty, Kumortuli Park, Ahiritola Sarbajanin, Santosh Mitra Square, College Square, Tridhara Sammelani, Hindusthan Park, Chetla Agrani, Naktala Udayan Sangha, Deshopriya Park, Ballygunge Cultural, Samaj Sebi Sangha, Mudiali Club and Bosepukur Sitala Mandir.

This year initiatives have been taken by various puja organisers in Bengal to make the biggest festival of the region eco-friendly.

Use of various harmful items such as synthetic paints and toxic metals has been prohibited. Most of the pujas have used natural items to decorate their pandals and idols.