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Festival make its presence in hills of North East
Published on 27 Sep. 2009 11:36 PM IST
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Mizoram and Nagaland may not be immediately associated with Durga Puja, being predominantly Christian states, but a handful of celebrations ensure that the autumn festival does make its presence felt in the hills. In Mizoram, particularly, the festival is gaining popularity, jumping from five Pujas to nine in a matter of few years. “Puja is now a new event on the Mizo calendar. And it is not limited to one community alone, but celebrated by all Christian tribal clans,” said a teacher. This year, Durga Puja in Aizawl will be held in nine enclaves. While the Bengalis take the lead in organising the biggest puja at Shakti Mandir in downtown Babutlang, the Nepalis of Mizoram hold Pujas in four places. Two more Pujas are organised in temples in Aizawl, while two more are being organised at 10 Battalion cantonment of the Assam Rifles in Khatla and by the Border Roads Task Force officials. Though the number of pujas may not be impressive, Mizoram does have a very long legacy. The first Durga Puja was organised in 1904 at Shakti Mandir by Bengalis who landed jobs in Mizoram as government officials. Aizawl then was a little hill station, inhabited by 5,000 people. Grandmas’ tales still include accounts of Mizos joining hands with Bengalis to ensure that not a thing was out of place in the traditional rituals. A problem that still haunts the pandals is unavailability of priests. The only option is to import priests from Silchar, 180km from Aizawl.In Nagaland, though, the spirits are down this year, most of the pujas are confined to Dimapur, the economic capital of the state. While some Durga Puja committees have decided to cut down on their budget this year, there are others who are doubtful if they will be able to celebrate at all. Despite the slowdown, some of the pandals to watch out for will be the ones at Hong Kong Market, Haralu Colony and Bank Colony.

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