Lives Spared, Hindus Complete Durga Festival in a Solemn Mood

BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, October 13, 2013 (Times of India): Organizers clearing debris from broken puja pandals, government officials clearing roads of snapped branches of trees and people queuing up before water tankers summed up the scene at Bhubaneswar and Cuttack a day after severe cyclone Phailin made landfall near Gopalpur.

Puja pandals (temporary road-side temples set up for a festival) of Rasulgarh, Saheednagar, Baramunda and Nayapalli, among others, were blown away in the strong winds of Saturday night while thousands of trees were uprooted. Several electric poles fell down while hundreds of slums were washed away. A newly constructed road along Daya West Canal breached at Jharpada locality of the state capital forcing suspension of traffic on the road.

Revenue and disaster management minister Surya Narayan Patro said all major roads across the state will be cleared by the evening. “National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and ODRAF forces are on the job. Road network would be restored by the evening,” he said.

Though weather continued to remain windy amid intermittent rain hundreds of people ventured out of their homes to pay obeisance at the fallen puja pandals on the occasion of Nabami puja. “The Goddess saved us from the worse. I feared I may not get a glimpse of the Goddess,” said Nirupama Panda, a housewife visiting the Saheednagar mandap.

Several localities in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack faced water scarcity due to power cuts. Tankers were deployed by the government. “There is not a drop of water at home to drink,” said Tilotama Nayak, a woman waiting for tanker water at GGP Canal Road in Bhubaneswar.

Slum dwellers who were shifted to schools and kalyan mandaps on Saturday started coming back to their houses. Business and commercial establishments and fuel filling stations largely remained closed.

Power distributor CESU (Central Electricity Supply Utility) said power will be partially restored in the city by Sunday evening and almost completely by Monday. “We have restored power to the state secretariat, Railways, Telecommunication Bhawan. Power will be restored to certain residential localities such as Saheednagar, Satyanagar and Bhimatangi area by the evening. Power was also restored in some localities of Cuttack,” CESU chief operating officer Sudarsana Nayak said.

Soaked in sorrow, puja organizers in the two cities have decided to either scale down or cancel the immersion ceremony. “We will not take out giant processions in wake of the cyclone. We will simply dip the murthis in river without any fan fare. The festive spirit was already lost,” said Pabitra Behera, president of Nayapalli puja committee in Bhubaneswar.

Source: Times Of India