Meerati: It was Pranab Mukherjee in a different role. Taking time off from his duties as India`s finance minister, Mukherjee was busy overseeing the arrangements for the traditional Durga Puja at his ancestral home in this village in West Bengal`s Birbhum district.
Mukherjee was Thursday morning (Mahasaptami) seen guiding the other priests to carry out the offerings. He also supervised the jewellery and ornaments put up on the idols, and himself adjusted some ornaments.
His sister Annyapurna Banerjee said: "Despite holding several prime positions in the central cabinet, he never chooses to stay away from offering puja to goddess Durga here."
"It was our grandfather Kamoda Kinkar Mukherjee who initiated the puja some 116 years back. The puja has been performed every year since then," she said.
Durga Puja, the five-day autumn festival beginning with Shashti and ending with Dussehra (falling this year on Oct 17), is being held with great passion across West Bengal and many other parts of the country at colossal puja pandals (marquees), where idols of the goddess and her children are installed and worshipped amid much fanfare.
Like earlier years, Mukherjee arrived Wednesday night at Meerati near Kirnahar in Nanoor block of Birbhum district, said his sister, who stays in Porata village but attends the family puja every year.
Mukherjee performed the Chandi path (chanting from religious scriptures) for over two hours starting from 10.30 a.m..
However, his work as a senior Congress leader followed him and he met Arunachal Pradesh Home Minister Tako Dabi, Tripura`s Congress unit chief Ashish Lal Singha and Assam`s Parliamentary Secretary, Education Sarat Saikia at his residence before performing the prayers.