The Puja organised by the Oriya community in the city may not be as grand as the others but it still has the footfall equal to that of the big Puja. When a group of contractual workers had first planned to have a Durga Puja here, they did not have many hands to help. But over the past 30 years, more than 12 lakh Oriya people have joined in the celebrations. Some of the Bengali families also help them in all possible ways, said Mr Khirod Dhol, organiser of the Puja at the Gopi Bose Lane. “When we first began, they helped us to get the protima and the purohit. Women and youths helped us in the decorations and the rituals and also preparing the bhog. But over the years we have our own workforce. Bengali families, however, still visit and participate in the Pujas,” he added.
The Oriya community organises Pujas at various places in the city. The two prominent Pujas organised by them are the ones at Gopi Bose Lane and Garden Reach, near Metiabruz. The Puja is held with much fanfare for all the days till Dashami. Mr Kailash Chandra Naik, the priest, had been looking after the ritual for the past 15 years. The protima is brought from Kumartuli and Khhichuri bhog is distributed among the devotees on all the Puja days. Orissa is known for its Laxmi Puja celebrations. Durga Puja has never been so prominent there. But the fervour with which the community celebrated the Durga Puja here is noteworthy. Mr Dhol explains that a few Durga devotees had initiated the Puja. Of course, after staying in the state for so long, nobody can stay away from the frenzy that grips each and every soul during these few days of the Pujas. “With time, our involvement in the Puja increased and now it has become such that people await eagerly for the Pujas to come,” he said. The Puja organised by the Oriya community in Garden Reach is a perfect example of unity is diversity, said Mr Dhol. “A procession is held during the Pujas that is organised by Md Shakil, a resident of the area. While Mr Adikant Deheria, another resident, helps in bhog distribution,” he added.