Durga Puja, the biggest religious festival of Bengali Hindu community, begins today with Maha Shasthi puja at temples across the country amid festivity and religious fervour by maintaining health guidelines.
The five-day long Durga Puja celebration will begin with the unveiling of the face of the deity and Kalparambho on the day of Maha Sashthi and it will end on 15 October with the immersion of the idols.
According to Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad, this year 32,118 puja mandapas have been set up across the country, while the number was 30,213 last year.
On the other hand, the number of pujas mandapas in Dhaka metropolis this year is 236.
Advocate Khishor Rangan Madal, general secretary of Metropolitan Sarbojonin Puja Committee, said visitors and devotees coming to mandaps have to wear face masks.
No procession will be allowed at the time of immersion of the goddess Durga this year too. Prashad distribution, arati (dance competition) and cultural festivals will be avoided as well, he said.
Elderly devotees without vaccination certificates will not be allowed at puja mandaps, he added.
Maha Saptami puja will be performed on Tuesday, Maha Ashtami, Kumari Puja and Sandhi Puja on Wednesday and Maha Nabami Puja on Thursday.
The Mahalaya, the auspicious occasion heralding the advent of goddess Durga, was celebrated on Wednesday.
Durga Puja signifies the birth of Durga with the blessings of gods, as a collective energy, to fight the demon king Mahishasura.
Exquisitely crafted and decorated life-size clay idols of the goddess Durga depicting her slaying the demon Mahishasura are set up at temples and Durga Puja pandals.
These idols are then worshiped for five days and immersed in the river on the fifth day. The puja is performed in temples, homes and in the public, featuring temporary stage decorations.
In Dhaka city, the main puja mandaps are Dhakeshwari National Temple, Ramkrishna Mission and Math, Kalabagan, Banani, Shakhari Bazar and Ramna Kali Mandir.
'Militants remain active online centring Durga Puja'
Militant outfits in the country have been found to be highly active online centring the Durga Puja festival, said Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Mohammad Shafiqul Islam.
They are planning to carry out sabotage at puja mandaps during night time when there are fewer people and security around, said the DMP commissioner at a press briefing after inspecting the security system on Sunday.
"We do not see much risk but also not discarding the fear completely. These people are self-radicalised who are inciting others via social media posts" the DMP chief also said.
"However, no one was found to be inspired by their virtual posts," he said adding, "We are on alert."
Meanwhile, puja mandaps in the country have been brought under CCTV surveillance. The CCTV control room will be set up soon. Members of Rapid Action Battalion, plain-clothes police, Detective Branch of Police and special branch will ensure the security of the mandaps.
Besides, additional police will be deployed at big mandaps of the capital. There will also be a mobile team of police to ensure security at other puja mandaps, said Shafiqul.