Kumar Rajiv Nayan

Ara: Braving the inclement weather, thousands of devotees thronged the Puja pandals at Ara seeking blessings of Maha Gauri, the eighth form of Goddess Durga on the Mahaashtami day of Navaratra on Sunday.

With the opening of eyes of Maa Durga in the morning on Saturday, rain has played a spoilsport as it continued till afternoon on Sunday but it could not dampen the spirit of the devotees particularly women and girls who since early morning on Sunday who visited about 400 aesthetically decorated pandals in the town and rural areas of Bhojpur district. Traditional rituals marked the puja.

The Ara roads town remained swarmed with young and old alike almost throughout the day as it was drizzling. The rush only increased after the  rain stopped with people enjoying with family and friends and making the most of the roadside eateries. ” Everyday many devotees come to Maa Aranya Devi temple with their ‘mannats,’” said Prabhakar Mishra, a priest at the temple.

The slight October nip in the air ushered in just the right atmosphere for the Puja celebrations. Devotees made a beeline for catching a glimpse of Maa Durga’s grandeur at the Mahavir Tola, Nawada, Katira, Pakari, New Police Line, Dhobighatawa, Old Police Line, Mir Ganj, Mahadeva and Sheesh Mahal Chowk pandals. The Nala road crossing and K G Road area also remained heavily crowded.

Paldal hoppers had a hectic schedule as about 400 pandals have come up in Bhojpur district this puja.” For the last few days, I have been reading about various attractions of different Puja pandals in the newspapers. So I decided to take my family out to show them a few on Sunday,” said a serviceman, Ram Kumar, a resident of D T Road.

With sponsors contributing sizeable amounts for the celebrations, the decorations outside the pandals appeared to be more expensive than last year. Beautiful arch patterns, colourful rolex and LED lights decked up the paths leading to the pandals. However, Mathia road residents are missing out on the roadside decors near the Mahavir Temple due to bad condition of road.

The owners of roadside eateries had a hectic day as people literally queued up for savouring the delicacies that included chowmein, momo, chaat, samosa, litti-chokha and desserts. “My daughter insisted on having golgappas and would just not accept my pleas that they were not hygienic. I had to give in,” said Birendra Dubey of Club Road who was moving around the pandals with his son and daughter.

Auto drivers also raked in the moolah with many people ‘reserving’ the vehicles to move around the city with their families. Temporary stalls selling puja materials like ‘Mata ki chunari’ and flowers are also doing brisk business.

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