Kolkata:Devotees thronged marquees and community pujas across West Bengal to bid adieu to goddess Durga on Thursday, the last day of the puja, which saw Mahanavami and Vijaya Dashami coinciding.
With anticipation of homecoming of the deity next year, they participated in the last rounds of prayers and rituals.
As per the almanac, Vijaya Dashami – the last day of the puja – merged with Mahanavami this year, thereby shortening the usual five-day affair to a four-day celebration. Idol immersions on Dashami conclude the festival.
However, the majority of the immersions are scheduled to take place on Friday and Sunday due to Muharram falling on Saturday.
Adhering to tradition, some household and community pujas proceeded to the banks of the river Hooghly around late evening on Thursday for the immersion.
Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee said at least 18 puja communities, including housing societies, carried out the immersion procedure during the day.
“We are expecting the number to go up to 3,500. On Sunday, the majority of pujas will immerse the idols across 19 ghats. We are co-ordinating with the Kolkata police to ensure a smooth flow. But we request the organisers to go for the ghat closest to their location and not flock to Babughat only,” Chatterjee said.
Members associated with the royal family of Shobhabazar or Shobhabazar Rajbari of north Kolkata watched solemnly as their deity was slowly lowered into the Ganga. The puja is in its 258th year.
With tears in their eyes, organisers of the Goabagan Sarbojanin, followed through the immersion ritual with shouts of “Asche bochor abar hobe” (See you next year).
Earlier in the day, people gathered at their community pujas to offer ‘pushpanjali’ or floral tributes for the Mahanavami (ninth lunar day) puja amid chanting of mantras in the name of the goddess.
The puja began after the end of Sandhi puja held at the confluence of Mahaashtami (eighth lunar day) and Mahanavami.
As part of the Vijaya Dashami 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.
Celebrities like actor Jisshu Sengupta joined in, swaying to the dhaak rhythms. Others did their last round of pandal-hopping.
Married women decked in the ritualistic red-and-white sarees 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 in Mount Kailash.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wished people on the occasion of Mahanavami through a Facebook post.
Vijaya Dashami, the culmination of Navratri, symbolises the triumph of good over evil. It celebrates the victory of goddess Durga over the demon Mahishasura who was defeated and slain by her after a nine-night, ten-day long battle. Vijaya Dashami ends early morning on Friday.