A grand preparation for a six-day merrymaking turned into panic buying to store essentials for at least seven days in view of the imminent deluge that is going to hit Odisha coast in the form of severe Cyclone Phailin in next 24 hours.
A few days ago, people of this city were making purchases for dresses and other luxury items for the Durga Puja celebrations.
But the warning from weathermen that the Cyclone Phailin would be at the threshold of very severe cyclone, the memories of 1999 super cyclone returned to haunt them with their festive mood giving way to fright and downcast.
The Durga puja, tipped to be the biggest annual extravaganza of the city, has been badly affected as people, instead of going pandal-hopping, have decided to remain indoors as incessant rains began to lash the city in the evening with frequent power cuts.
Sensing as to what is in store for them for next four to five days, the entire city is now witnessing lull before the Cyclone Phailin storm.
Known for its unique brotherhood, people of both Hindu and Muslim communities have joined together in offering prayers in Temples and Masjids to protect the people of the state from the fearsome storm.
The Puja organisers at various mandaps hoping that Goddess Durga, invoked at their mandaps two days ago, would come to their rescue in the hours of crisis.
"We are sure the Maa (Goddess Durga) would come to our rescue and the people of the State meet any eventuality by the grace of almighty", said the city peace committee secretary Bhikari Das.
A Muslim devotee, after the mass prayers in a Masjid, said he has fervently appealed to Allah to protect the people of Cuttack city from the imminent cyclone.
Meanwhile, the massive police arrangements made in the city for the Durga puja have been instructed to help the people of the city during the storm and help the district administration in rescue and relief operations after the cyclone.
The puja committee members have also been instructed to ensure that the welcome arches and decorations they have made at their