Going by the calendar Durga Puja is to begin on October 8 but a quick reality check by HT revealed that the Pujas this time have got off to an unprecedentedly early start, with none less than chief minister Mamata Banerjee leading the charge!
While going on an inauguration spree, posting pictures on twitter, and wishing people for the festive season, Mamata inaugurated the 100-feet high pandal of Sreebhumi, among a few others, on Wednesday — two full days before Mahalaya — traffic jams could be seen near the approaches of quite a few major pujas — especially the ones inaugurated by Mamata — on the nights of Thursday, Friday and Saturday, though for small durations.
Sujit Bose, the local MLA and the chief patron of the puja at Sreebhumi, said, “Our pandal has been conceived with Puri’s Jagannath Temple in mind and built with fibre glass and steel.” The idol will be inaugurated on Sunday but crowds have started gathering since Mamata inaugurated the pandal. Steady streams of visitors kept heading for the puja, especially in the evenings, on Thursday and Friday. The footfall at Sreebhumi is likely to rise substantially from Sunday with the word having spread that the goddess will be decked up with gold ornaments worth Rs 6 crore.
A volunteer at the puja said, “Crowds have started visiting the pandal, but since the idol will be inaugurated on Sunday, we are not allowing anyone to go inside. Some are getting upset with this but we can’t help.”
Kolkata Police officers HT talked to agreed that this is indeed a new trend and said that they are expecting a major surge in the number of pandal-hoppers from Wednesday (Chaturthi)!