Banarpal: Had it not been for Covid outbreak, the Nalconagar area in Angul district would have borne a different look altogether as Vishwakarma Puja is celebrated here for seven days with much fanfare.
However, amid the prevailing situation, the puja has been a low key affair here for the last two years.
Lord Vishwakarma, the divine architect, is worshipped at 23 places including Nalco’s Smelter and CPP plants. Here, a kind of competition exists among the committees, when it comes to celebrating Vishwakarma Puja with pomp and gaiety.
In order to make their pandals attractive, the committee members start preparation well ahead of the festive day. It remains a topic of discussion among locals as to who among Patline, Cast House, Roading Shop, RPU, Civil, Udyan, CPP Operation, Electrical, Carbon Area and Contractors’ Association pandals will take the cake in terms of decoration.
Going to keep their reputations intact, the committees rope in artisans and experts from outside as well. Spending lakhs of rupees, the puja is celebrated with much fanfare. Besides, theme-based huge pandals, pallishree mela, cultural programmes, joyrides, meena bazaar and food stalls attract people from far and near.
The Covid outbreak has played spoilsport for last two years, throwing cold water on puja plans and programmes.
Like last year, this year too these committees are worshipping Lord Vishwakarma’s photo or small size idols at their pandals sans all sorts of decoration. Similarly, the committees don’t have any special planning with respect to immersion procession.
“The Lord’s puja is being observed but without the usual merrymaking, making us feel as if the puja has been banned,” said Sangram Mishra, an Angul resident.
For the last two years, the tent house owners and artistes are also losing their income to the pandemic.
“Prior to the pandemic, we used to have contracts with puja committees to perform ‘Danda Nrutya’ during the puja period. Similarly, various artistes starting from singers to dancers used to earn decently by performing on stages. But these things have changed. We don’t have any contacts now. The local people are also not happy for having been devoid of all such activities synonymous with the Nalconagar Vishwakarma puja,” observed Bamadev Seth, a Danda Nrutya artiste from Kulad.
“We used to start constructing pandals months ahead of puja. At some of the pandals, artisans from other states used to work. That made us work in a competitive way. We used to earn in lakhs and it used to give us immense pleasure. Our earning, however, has stopped owing to Covid outbreak. So has the enjoyment,” said Kunal Seth, a Nalconagar based tent house owner.
Similarly, Jayshree Patnaik, a resident of Hindol, said, “For the last two years, we have been deprived of enjoying the puja. We feel very sad seeing the pandals today. There is no activity for which these pandals were known for. The people of Angul and Dhenkanal districts wait for this season every year. But the pandemic has put a spoke in our plans.”