Imphal: The five-day long Durga Puja festivities have gripped the people of the northeastern states, especially the puja revellers in Assam and Tripura.
The festivities being organised in ethnic violence devastated Manipur in much subdued manner.
A Manipuri intellectual and writer, Raj Kumar Indrajit Singh, said that various Durga Puja organisers including the local clubs across Manipur observed that in view of the overall situation in the state and economic distress of the people just a few Durga Puja being held in some places maintaining the basic minimum rituals.
“Not only Durga Puja, all kinds of festivities including the ‘Ningol Chakkouba’ are not being organised this year in Manipur. Due to over five month long ethnic strife, puja organisers and people in general are not mentally ready to hold any kind of festivities in the state this year,” Singh said.
Though the five-day-long Durga Puja festivities commenced on Friday with “Bodhan”, the actual festival got underway with ‘Mahashaptami’ on Saturday.
On Chakkouba day, that falls on November 15, state’s very old festival, Meitei women, particularly the married ones, in their best traditional attires, move to their natal homes and enjoy multi-dishes with their parents and siblings. With simple gifts and blessings given by their parents and brothers, the Ningols (women) return home with high spirits.
The puja fervour is much much better than last year, the illumination, glitz and theme-based festivities are visible in most places of Assam and Tripura, reflecting the higher budgets of the Puja committees this year compared to last year and Covid-19 pandemic hit 2021.
For successful celebration of Durga puja festival, Assam government has provided Rs 10,000 each to 6,953 puja organisers as grant-in-aid.
In Guwahati and other places of Assam, Durga Puja is being held with a greater zeal as compared to last year (2022) and previous year (2021), when a minimum number of pujas was held with very few people venturing out of their homes due to the pandemic.
After visiting many pandalas and temples in other parts of Assam, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday visited the Bengali-dominated Barak valley where he went around several puja pandals, offering prayers.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Saha and other ruling party leaders also inaugurated a huge number of pujas in Tripura.
In Tripura, around 2,870 community pujas, up from 2,645 in 2022, are being organised this year.
In Meghalaya, the Durga puja celebrations have started in Shillong and some other parts of the state since Saturday.
Police Bazar, the main commercial hub of Shillong, wore a normal look with people busy with their usual routine in a festive revelry.
With the deployment of additional police and other forces, security has been beefed up in Assam, Tripura and other northeastern states to ensure peaceful celebration of Durga Puja.
CCTV cameras have been installed at important, sensitive, possible crowded locations and big-budget pujas to manage the pandal hoppers and other crowds.
Vigil along the India-Bangladesh borders with Assam and Tripura has been further tightened and the state authorities have asked the Border Security Forces (BSF) to maintain a strict vigil along the international border to foil any infiltration attempt and cross border movement of inimical elements.