With Durga Puja, the biggest religious festival of the Bengali Hindu community, just around the corner, preparations are going on in full swing in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country.
Puja organisers are busy in completing all their last-minute preparations while traders are making good business as people of the Hindu community are buying different commodities ahead of their major festival.
A number of mandaps (temporary temples) are being erected for Durga Puja celebrations across the country. Artisans are passing hectic days in giving a finishing touch to the idols on the altar.
Idol sculptors have gone through a disastrous experience during the last year’s Durga Puja due to lack of work orders amid coronavirus pandemic but this year they have rebounded as the corona situation has improved and the number of puja mandaps has increased.
“We were depressed ahead of the festival. But we finally have bagged a good number of orders and now are working under immense pressure to deliver the idols in time,” said Joyonta Kumar Ghosh, proprietor of ‘Mritt O Mrittika’, a house that makes idols in Mymensingh city.
“We got orders for 18 idols, and the rate is between Tk 30,000-50,000, which is comparatively higher than that of the last year,” he added.
Like the idol sculptures, dhakis and other musical instrument players also struggled to make their ends meet last year. They have said that they are still suffering as they are yet to be booked by the puja organisers.
“We have repaired our instruments and now are waiting for the call from puja organisers,” he added.
On the other hand, shoppers are thronging to different markets, and shopping malls to buy new dresses for themselves and their family members.
Local fashion houses which offer dresses of authentic motifs receive a good response from customers during every Durga puja. According to owners and salespersons of these houses, this year they are doing good business and recovering the loss that they have incurred in the last year.
Shaheen Ahmed, owner of renowned local fashion house Anjan’s and president of the Fashion Entrepreneurs Association of Bangladesh, said that they brought many dresses of new design targeting the puja though they feared that shoppers would not buy those in big numbers.
“Luckily customers are coming to our outlets and choosing dresses according to their taste. We already have sold half of the collections we brought for puja,” he said.
The government has asked all Durga Puja organising committees not to allow fairs or stalls near the pavilions this year amid the Covid-19 pandemic while puja organisers are taking all necessary measures to ensure a safe celebration of the festival.
Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad general secretary Nirmal Kumar Chatterjee said, “We have instructed the puja organisers to follow health guidelines strictly amid coronavirus pandemic. We also have told them to avoid all sorts of illumination, cultural arrangements and splendor and assist hapless people of all religions and communities with that money.”
The annual five-day Sharodiya Durgotsab will begin with the unveiling of the face of the deity and Kalparambho on the day of Maha Sashthi on October 11 and end with the immersion of the idols of the Goddess Durga on Bijoya Dashami on October 15.
This year, Durga Puja will be celebrated in 32,118 mandaps across the country. Compared to last year, the number of puja mandaps has increased to 1,905.