The Durga Puja rituals on Monday began with Maha Ashtami ‘Pushpanjali’ as devotees queued at pandals across West Bengal braving the rains.
Long queues were seen at community puja pandals as people gathered in large numbers to offer flowers to the Goddess after two years of muted celebrations due to the pandemic.
Kumari Puja was held at Ramakrishna Mission’s Belur Math in Howrah according to the traditions.
In a first, the Pushpanjali at some pandals was held with Bengali verses instead of Sanskrit, courtesy of an initiative to promote the mother tongue.
Among those pandals were 66 Pally at Kalighat, Behala Club, Dum Dum Tarun Dal, Ultadanga Bidhan Sangha and 47 Pally Jubak Brinda.
Sanskrit scholar Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri, linguist Pabitra Sarkar, and Kaliprasanna Bhattacharya, a priest who has conducted Durga Puja rituals for at least 60 years, came together for translating the verses.
Copies of the translated verses were distributed among the puja committees.
The rituals on Maha Ashtami — the second day of the four-day festival, including Pushpanjali and Sandhi Puja, are considered to be the most significant ones.
The weather office predicted heavy rain in the coastal districts of South 24 Parganas, East Midnapore and West Midnapore districts till Tuesday morning owing to a cyclonic circulation in northwest Bay of Bengal.
Thunderstorms with lightning are likely at some places in Kolkata and nearby areas.
The weather office has also forecast heavy rain in all the districts of north Bengal, including Darjeeling and Kalimpong, till Wednesday morning.