.........CUTTACK: Durga Puja festivities have kicked off in the Silver City. But, all is not well for the Puja Committees, which are racing against time for completing the idols and welcome arches ahead of the Sasthi puja.The hostile weather under the impact of low pressure has dampened the spirit of idol makers as well as decorators who fear that more rain would mar the celebrations and their efforts would go waste.
This year, Durga Puja is being celebrated in as many as 160 mandpas in the city. Besides other decorations, erection of gigantic and colourful welcome arches is an intrinsic part of Cuttack Durga Puja and each committee spends `8 lakh to `10 lakh on it.This year, however, the work is moving at a snail’s pace due to rain for the last two days. “Due to rain, construction of welcome arches is moving at a snail’s pace. After getting wet continuously, the bamboos have turned slippery with a coating of moss. The artisans and labourers are not finding it difficult to climb the bamboo structures,” said Prafulla Sahoo, secretary, Khannagar Puja Committee, which is erecting a 70 ft high welcome arch replicating the Swami Narayan temple.
More than 80 per cent of the welcome arch should have been completed by this time. But, only 50 pc of the work has been completed so far, Sahoo said, adding that they would deploy more man power to complete it in time.The Chhatrabazar Puja Committee has decided to erect LED light gate but due to rain the work is yet to start, said its president Debendra Sahu.
Similarly, idols of Durga and Hara-Parvati have been affected in almost all the pandals due to moist weather. “Due to soggy weather, the process of colouring the idol of Goddess Durga is yet to commence though the final layer of clay has already been applied. The artisans cannot apply colour till the clay dries up,” said Niranjan Sahu, secretary, Chauliaganj Puja Committee which is coming up with two gigantic welcome arches replicating White House and Russian Palace this year. If the moist condition continues, we will be compelled to adopt alternative measures like using warmer, burner or blower to dry the idols, said artist Ajay Behera.