Maha Ashtami celebrated in Bengal with fun and fervour

Kolkata, Oct 13 (FN Representative) With people from all walks of life mingling in a sea of humanity, hopping from pandal to pandal and paying obeisance to Goddess Durga, Maha Ashtami is being celebrated in Bengal on Wednesday with religious fervour and gaiety. People clad at their best were seen congregating at the puja pandals since morning to offer “Pushpanjali”. Several puja organisers have arranged virtual offerings to the Goddess due to Covid regulations. Belur Math, the headquarters of Ramakrishna Math and Mission, hasn’t allowed people inside the compound due to Covid, but telecast the puja, specially Kumari Puja. Meanwhile, Uber is partnering with Kolkata Traffic Police to help the citizens visit pandals safely and conveniently during this year’s Durga Puja. With support from Kolkata Traffic Police, Uber will have designated pick-up-drop-off points (PUDOs) during the festival days. These PUDOs will be in 10 of the busiest and most popular geographic locations of the city. During a time when most people in Kolkata take to the roads to enjoy the festivities, this partnership will help reduce congestion and better crowd and traffic management. As part of the partnership, drivers will receive an in-app safety message from the Jt. Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Shri Pandey Santosh.

The message will urge drivers to take a pledge against drunk driving and follow all COVID safety norms to ensure the safety and well-being of all citizens. Commenting on the initiative, Armanur Rahman, Head of East India & Bangladesh, Uber, said, “Durga Puja is among the biggest and most celebrated festivals in Kolkata. Millions of Puja lovers will step out after long to visit their favorite pandals and do festive shopping. Our partnership with the Kolkata Traffic Police will help make travel seamless, reduce traffic congestion, and promote driver safety. This is part of our core intent to provide a magical ride experience with Uber on every trip.” These initiatives will continue till October 15, 2021. Since the early days of the pandemic, Uber has been running a ‘no mask, no ride’ policy and has a tech-enabled mask verification tool for both riders and drivers. Meanwhile, following up on its incredibly popular initiative from last year, leading building materials company Nuvoco Vistas Corp. Ltd is back with its virtual Durga Puja pandal hopping experience for devotees, commencing from October 11, 2021. With COVID-19 restrictions still in effect, this online experience allows people to virtually ‘visit’ the famous pandals in Kolkata. Devotees can log on to for a 360-degree walkthrough of the top 30 Durga Puja pandals in the city as well as a captivating image gallery of 20 pandals from other parts of West Bengal and 10 overseas venues.

They will be able to witness the pomp and glory, prayer services, magnificent idols, spellbinding artistic displays, and popular lightings of these venues in real time. The website is available in both English and Bengali languages. Every year lakhs of devotees congregate in Kolkata to celebrate Durga Puja. The usual practice is to move from one site to another to see the different idols, pandals, and art on display. However, after the successful online celebration last year and continued COVID-19 restrictions on the entry of people to puja venues, Nuvoco once again brings the virtual pandal hopping experience that will allow devotees to experience their favorite festive activity virtually. From the grand facade of the lavish pandals to the most intricate detailing of the artistry – everything will be viewable, literally at your fingertips. This year, Nuvoco has hiked up the scale of its celebration and spending by providing a 360-degree walkthrough to the top Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata and elsewhere chosen as per most-visited and popular pandals in the last few years. The company will be running a branding campaign at the pandals for ‘Best Dressed’ and ‘Best Pandals’.

The viewers will get a chance to vote for their favorite Pandal and the top 3 pandals with the most votes will be awarded with Rs.40K, Rs.30K, and Rs.20K. The company has also arranged free e-pass for the vaccinated users. Sharing her views on the platform, Madhumita Basu, Chief Marketing, Innovation and Strategy Officer, said, “As a leading cement company in the East, we feel a deep connection with the people and its culture. Durga Puja has always been a special time for us and given that this is our major market offering leading brands like Concreto, Double Bull, and Duraguard WaterSeal, it gives us an opportunity to connect with our customers through this virtual pandal hopping initiative.” “It proved to be a great success on its launch as people from all over the world logged in to witness the puja ceremonies in real-time. During these times of COVID, such initiatives help in ensuring the safety of people and helping devotees to visit the pandal while avoiding any mass congregation.”