JORHAT, Oct 1 - Intermittent showers since last week seems to have added to the absence of the customary rush in Durga Puja shopping this time, unlike the earlier years.
The four-day Durga Puja will commence from Saturday next. Shopkeepers attribute the sharp fall in customers due to several causes like increasing number of shopping malls (over 10) opened in the town during the past few years, which often announces bumper sale sessions with heavy discounts and attractive offers.
Another reason cited by the shopkeepers was the increasing level of online shopping which offers a wide range of items at heavy discounts. Cloudy weather with sporadic showers since last week seems to have dampened the shopping spirit, feel the traders, especially those selling garments, shoes and cosmetics.
However, the scene was a bit better in the shopping malls on Sunday.
Meanwhile, preparations are on in full swing in 87 mandaps in and around Jorhat town to celebrate Duga Puja with pomp and gaiety. Workers are giving finishing touches to the mandaps with decorations of various kinds. Altogether, puja will be celebrated in over 200 mandaps across the district.
This time the district administration has changed the rules for seeking permission to organise puja in pandals in order to streamline the system and to bring more accountability on the organisers.
A senior district administration official told The Assam Tribune that to set up pandals unlike previous years, the puja committees were instructed to seek permission individually instead of the earlier practice of obtaining the same through the Jorhat Central Puja Committee, the umbrella organisation of all the puja committees.
The official said that the rule was modified to enable the administration to have names of all the office-bearers of the committees along with other necessary details in order to ensure that all norms were properly fulfilled to organise puja for the safety and security of the devotees who visit in large numbers.
A puja committee member, however, said that the new rule has led to a lengthy process of obtaining permission with clearances required to be sought from severel Government departments and agencies like PWD, fire brigade, APDCL, police, municipality, disaster management authority, apart from the mandatory no-objection certificates from the owners of the venue, especially if it is on land belonging to educational institutes or individual ownership.
The member mentioned as the administration had announced the change in rule shortly before the puja, the organisers were facing lots of difficulties in getting clearance from all the concerned departments and agencies as a result of which about 50 percent of the committees are yet to receive the official permission till date.
�Sufficient time should have been provided to the organising committees,� rued the member.
The district administration official further stated that they along with the police department had geared up to ensure a peaceful and safe puja for the revellers. The official said that as per a plan drawn up in this regard, elaborate security arrangements have been made.
CCTV cameras were installed in all the pandals for better monitoring of the situation, the official added.