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City witnesses unprecedented Panchami rush

Kolkata: Kolkata looked like a sea of people on Panchami since the afternoon, owing to an unprecedented rush of pandal-hoppers.

As the Alipore Meteorological office has predicted intermittent rain during the Puja days, pandal-hoppers did not take any chance and started visiting the pandals from the morning itself.

A spokesman for Hatibagan Sarbojonin said: "Such gathering of people in the afternoon seems unprecedented. We have allotted duties to the club volunteers in the evening, along with deployment of additional police force. But as the visitors are coming to the pandal from 10 am, they are hardly getting any time to have their lunch. If this trend continues then it will be a tough situation for Puja organisers."

The Durga Puja of Hatibagan Sarbojonin was inaugurated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee a few days ago. A unique feature of the pandal is a camera hidden in the idol of Goddess Durga, which will take snaps of those who will come and stand before her with folded hands.

Sebanti Basu, a resident of Madhyamgram who has visited the pandal, said: "Because of the prediction of rain during the four days of Puja, we have decided to complete visiting the important pandals by Ashtami. We have started pandal-hopping from 12 noon and we think Thursday's trip will be over by 10 pm."

Debashis Kumar, Member, Mayor-in-Council (Parks & Gardens), who is the main organiser of Tridhara Sammilani, said: "A marked change has been seen in the crowd pattern this year. Earlier, people used to visit the pandals from Shasthi till Navami. The highest crowd concentration took place in the evening. But as the Pujas are being inaugurated before Mahalaya, people are visiting the pandals from the following day. As there is prediction of rain, people do not want to waste a day and are coming to the pandal from 10 am. Many of the visitors have come from the districts and the flow of people will continue even after midnight."

Meanwhile, various NGOs took the members of different old-age homes to the pandals since morning. The residents of Nabaneer will go out to visit the pandals on Ashtami, as announced by Mamata Banerjee.

The city's youngsters were seen flocking to Maddox Square in South Kolkata from the afternoon. People gather at the park from different parts of the city to meet their friends.

Ekdalia Evergreen, Hindustan Park, Ballygunge Cultural and Adi Ballygunge also witnessed people visiting the pandals from the afternoon.

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