Kolkata: Lakhs of people on Thursday thronged puja pandals across the state to offer obeisance to Goddess Durga as part of the auspicious Mahashtami before pandal-hopping through the evening and night.
Revelers chanted hymns of the Goddess as people went to their local pandals to offer Anjali (prayer) before proceeding to other places to see the images of the Goddess and her four children, artworks, lights and for plain merriment.
In the metropolis, colourfully-lit pandals with various art work and themes ranging from a greener world, artefacts of yesteryears to modern science, attracted children and old alike.
Several of the thousands of pandals are a tribute to excellent skill of artisans and their artistry -- both in terms of innovation in pandal-making and lighting.
The weather remained mainly dry except for one or two sharp showers in parts of the city, but it failed to dampen the spirits of the people who came out in droves to visit the pandals.
At Belur Math on the banks of Ganga in adjacent Howrah district, 'Kumari Puja' was held as per the custom -- started by Ramakrishna Paramahansha in the late 19th century.
The puja, offered to a young girl as the mother Goddess by the Ramakrishna Mission monks, was watched by thousands of devotees at the Math before partaking of the mahaprasad.
Traffic snarls were seen at some places in the city, even as the personnel of Kolkata Police did their best to control the surging crowd towards the evening.
Eateries, whether star-rated or roadside, did great business with people thronging these to have their food of choice, from Chinese, Thai to Tandoori or Bengali cuisine.
People queued up patiently outside restaurants to have their fill as they did to enter the prize winning pandals, whether at Kasba or Behala in the south to Tala Park, Shyambazar and Dumdum in the north of the city, making the most of the festive season.