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Durga Puja begins

Durga Puja, the biggest religious festival of the Bangalee Hindu community, began on Saturday with Maha Shasthi puja at temples across the country amid festivity and religious fervour.

It is believed that Goddess Durga on this day descends on the earth with her four children — Ganesha, Kartikeya, Lakshami and Saraswati. Maha Saptami puja will be held on Sunday, Maha Ashtami, Kumari and Sandhi puja on Monday, Maha Nabami on Tuesday and Bijoya Dashami on Wednesday.

The five-day annual celebration began with unveiling of the face of the deity and Kalparambho on Maha Shasthi and it will end on October 5 with the immersion of the idols on the day of Bijaya Dashami.

President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have issued separate messages, greeting the members of the country’s Hindu community on this occasion.

In his message, President Hamid said the main religious festival of the Bengali Hindus is Durga Puja.

“The country’s Hindu community has been celebrating the puja amid huge enthusiasm and festivity with different rituals since ancient times. Durga puja is not only a religious festival, but also a social one.

“Communal harmony is the eternal tradition of the Bengalis. This tradition must be carried forward in our overall progress together,” the President said.

In her message, PM Hasina said that Durga puja is not only a festival of the Hindu community, “it is now a universal festival”.

“Destruction of evil forces and worship of truth and beauty are the main motives of Sharadiya Durgotsob. On the occasion of Durga puja, I wish peace, welfare and prosperity to all citizens, including the Hindus,” she said.

Be it the minority Hindus or the majority Muslims, all use this opportunity to throng pandals, dance to the sounds of the dhak (a special percussion instrument) and indulge in delectable bhog during the festival.

The Mahalaya, the auspicious occasion heralding the advent of the Goddess Durga, was celebrated on September 25.

In Dhaka city, the main puja mandaps have been set up at Dhakeshwari National Temple, Ramkrishna Mission and Math, Kalabagan, Banani, Shakhari Bazar and Ramna Kali Mandir.

This year, Durga puja will be held at 32,168 mandaps across the country, including 241 in the capital.

Adequate security measures have been taken for smooth and peaceful celebrations of the festival, according to police.

Additional personnel of the police force Ansar, the Rapid Action Battalion and other law enforcement agencies have been roped in for deployment in puja mandaps to ensure full-proof security.