Solemn start to Durga puja festivities in city

Motinagar AG Quarters pandal sends out green message

The idol of Goddess Durga and other deities made of environment friendly materials at the AG Quarters pandal at Motinagar in the city. (ST)

SHILLONG: Durga puja celebrations got off to a colourful start in the city on Saturday with hundreds of people queuing up to have glimpses of the decorations at pandals and the idols.
However, of the scores of pandals in the city, the one at Motinagar AG quarters is creating waves among revellers with its green message.
With rampant felling of trees in and around the city and air and water pollution, the puja committee thought it the best time to focus on promoting preservation of environment.
The idols at Motinagar do not have any ‘ashtra’, or weapons. Speaking to The Shillong Times, committee secretary Partha Dey said no harmful substance was used in making the idols. The platform on which the gods and  goddesses are placed is made of wood, he added.
The pandal is modelled in the form of a forest with a green canopy. A cradle with a baby on the top of the tree sends out a “strong message against aforestation”.
Besides, the committee is taking care of keeping the pandal clean and dustbins have been placed at different locations to avoid littering.
The Central Puja Committee (CPC) has been harping on cleanliness and the message was sent to all committees. “We took an undertaking from all the pandals that they have to organise cleaning drives in their localities,” CPC President Naba Bhattacharjee said.
He further said CPC has made it a point to see that the immersion ghat is cleaned within 24 hours of the immersion. A visit to different puja pandals in the city also revealed that cleanliness is being given top priority by most of the committees and most of them have put up dustbins in different places so that people do not litter.
Security was also high and there were police, volunteers and home-guards in every neighbourhood. The city police have deployed additional forces for crowd management.
There are 166 pandals, including 92 in Khasi Hills and 54 in Garo Hills, this year. There are 67 community pujas in Greater Shillong and five private. Most of the pandals are under the surveillance of CCTV cameras.