SHILLONG, Sept 27 - Durga Puja celebrations have begun and one of the attractions of the Puja in the State Capital is the easy-going fanfare associated with a hill station and an opportunity to get connected with loved ones.
The five-day celebrations are a riot of colours, with people in their new outfits, the pandals and lights and all the makeshift eatery joints, toys and balloons, but all these are in small scale as is typical with a small town.
It is also an opportunity for the vast number of �Probashis� (those not living in the home State) to meet their near and dear ones during the celebrations. With many pursuing their studies and also employed outside Meghalaya, these groups of pandal hoppers are easily identifiable with their subtle change in their lifestyle, attire and lingo.
On the other hand, the traffic snarls which are a part of the State Capital these days, only gets a bit worse during the celebrations and these are usually near the areas adjoining the puja pandals. However, with schools, colleges and offices closed, in several parts of the town traffic snarl actually eases during the celebrations.
Moreover, unlike big cities where serpentine queues are witnessed outside puja pandals, here in the State Capital there is a lot more space and people do move around freely and manage to sit and interact with their close ones in the pandals. Khichdi is usually served in most of these pandals as Puja offerings in the afternoon.
Then it is also easy when it comes to pandal hopping. With just over 60 pandals in the State Capital (within a radius of about 15 kms) this year, people generally are able to see most of these puja pandals during the celebrations.
Some of the must-see pandals include Ramakrishna Mission (Laitumkhrah), Rilbong, Jail Road, Rynjah, Hindu Mission (Mawprem), and Narsingh Akhara (Lumdiingjri.)
In Ramakrishna Mission the celebrations are held in the permanent Temple complex and there are hardly any expensive lights or decoration. But this is one of the most important destinations for pandal hoppers because it�s one of the oldest Puja celebrations in the State Capital. The Mission was established in 1937.
The Rilbong Durga Puja committee tried to recreate the Lotus Temple this year while the Jail Road Puja committee has recreated a Temple. Rynjah is well-known for its decorative lights.
Meanwhile, Meghalaya Governor Banwarilal Purohit has greeted the people. In his message, he said: �Durga Puja epitomises the victory of Good over Evil. May this festival usher in peace, happiness and prosperity for all and strengthen our bonds ever more.�