Huge crowds throng pandals on Navami morning

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Agartala, Oct 8 (UNI) Incessant rains and terror threat failed to dampen spirits as people made a beeline for various pandals since early morning of 'Mahanavami' today, the penultimate day of Durga Puja.

Colourful pandals and beating of 'dhaaks'(drums) beckoned revellers who made the most of the morning hours to avoid frisking by security guards at night.

The five-day festivities were, however, guarded in Tripura this time as the serial bomb blasts and recovery of live explosives in the capital city on October one cast a gloom.

''In the past three days there was not much crowd in the city but the peaceful celebration might encourage the people to come out this morning,'' said police officials.

Besides, traditional themes with Indian temples and historical events, the just concluded Beijing Olympics, wonderful Iceland, Tripura's royal Palace, Birla Planetarium in Kolkata, Kamakhya temple in Guwahati, Sun temple of Konark, Buddha temple in China and Kashmir's Dal Lake were replicated in puja pandals.

A few organisers depicted the need of bio-diversity conservation and predicted the future of climatic change and global warming to generate awareness. 200 birds and 300 frogs have been displayed in front of the Agartala club.

Security was beefed up with the deployment of 22,000 personnel, including state police, paramilitary forces, private security guards and volunteers. Frisking mechanism had been installed.

''About 2,000 community pujas have been organised across the state, including about 300 in the state capital. Unlike previous years, there are no reports so far about tribal guerrillas creating problems or asking people not to organise Durga Puja,'' said DGP Pranay Sahaya.

For the first time in the last 10 years, pujas were organised in about 200 tribal and extremist dominated areas and tribal youths were busy participating in traditional style, he pointed out and added that authorities had stepped up patrol in vulnerable areas with sniffer dogs and special anti-sabotage groups.

''Assam Rifles and other paramilitary forces trained in counter-insurgency, besides Tripura State Rifles, have been asked to maintain strict vigil,'' he underlined.

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