A damp puja

Friday, 15 January 2021



A damp puja

Swapnil Bharali | October 24, 2018 11:21 hrs

Whether we want to admit it or not, Durga Puja this year was basically a damp squib and just did not stir the social bonding that Guwahatians are used to at this time of the year. The reasons are not far to seek actually. Starting with that silly bomb blast supposedly triggered by the ULFA-I (as claimed by Paresh Baruah) onto some gross misadministration by the city’s police department and administration, the desire to absorb the puja fever by the city’s residents just went missing from Guwahati.

For the new generation of Guwahatians, a bomb blast in the city is a first time experience – something which they are not used to and so, is scary. The police and administration, as observed at ground zero, were clueless about how to handle the situation to the extent that they could not even confirm whether it was a bomb that had burst in the first place until Paresh Baruah himself came to their rescue. Allaying public fears was a far cry; confidence building measures after the incident: zero! And so, through the course of the Puja, it was a field day for rumour-mongers to spread another piece of fake news that there was another bomb blast in one of the city’s decked up pandals sending revellers scurrying to the safety of their homes. The dampening was complete.

Add to all this was the seeming lack of teeth of the administration and police to enforce their own rules and finding convenient measures like arbitrarily placing “No Entry” boards at the entry point of puja pandals and those newly acquired traffic cones that ensured that roadsides were rendered useless by disallowing parking or commuting thereby killing the business of roadside eateries. 

Beyond all this was, of course, the administration’s total lack of control over the late-night sound levels in certain localities of Guwahati which are off the usual beaten track. Music and chants blared till late in the night with no real crowds to appreciate it and which only resulted in disturbing the sleep of local residents. Kharguli suffered heavily because of this and complaints to the top brass of the city’s police commissionerate came a cropper. 

If this puja is any indicator of things to come, we are looking at a damp future.

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