Teary-eyed Hindu devotees across the country yesterday bade farewell to their mother deity Durga, and her children Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartik and Ganesh, immersing their idols in water and wishing Durga's return next year.
This signaled the conclusion of the five-day long Durga Puja celebrations, amid air, rife with tension.
Although sporadic incidents of clashes in Cumilla and Chattogram dominated headlines, alongside the pandemic, none of this dampened the festive mood.
The religious event was celebrated at 32,118 puja mandaps across the country, of which 238 were in the capital, according to the Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad.
In the capital, thousands thronged the Buriganga River for the last day's ritual immersion of the idols.
Many others did not participate because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but found other ways to share the day with their loved ones.
Akhila Shaha, a designer, said, "I avoided public gatherings in order to protect my parents. Nonetheless, I met friends and family members. What I found really endearing was the steady exchange of so many beautiful boxes of sweets and goody baskets delivered to our homes, from family and friends all over Dhaka. It's such a wonderful way of sharing love and greetings when social distancing is in place."
Elsewhere, in Jashore devotees offered prayers at 699 puja mandaps in the district, 41 of them in the city. The immersion of idols took place mainly at Laldighi Par.
Pranab Das, a local journalist, said, "There is some tension, but we are still observing the occasion. Whatever has happened in the country, did not surface here."
Pranab also said that patrolling by Border Guard Bangladesh ensured security, adding, "Many of our Puja committees have people from other religious backgrounds, so people from all walks of life came to join," he said.
However, he said it was less crowded this time around, adding that they did not expect any trouble as such things did not happen in Jashore.
Meanwhile in Sylhet district, there were 650 beautifully-decorated mandaps, of which 66 were in the city. Her, the immersion of idols mostly took place in the Chadnighat area on the Surma River.
Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad Sylhet City General Secretary, Rajat Kanti Gupta, said, "Durga Puja has ended with the immersion of the idols. This time we had a lot of people who came from different areas to partake in or witness the immersion."
In Khulna district, the festivities were observed at 1,008 mandaps, of which 133 were in the city. The immersions here took place in the Bhairab River.
There were, however, sporadic incidents of vandalism a day earlier, though this did not prevent the puja festivities from taking place.
Prashanto Kundu, secretary general of Khulna Mohanagar Puja Udjapan Committee, said, "We observed the rituals peacefully. Till 8.15pm, 46 idols were immersed at the Jail Khana Ghat on the Bhairab River. More people kept coming and it was peaceful."
He also said that Khulna Metropolitan Police Commissioner M Masudur Rahman Bhuiyan, alongside RAB, the fire brigade and the BGB were at the ghat, ensuring everyone's security.
In Rajshahi district, there were 456 mandaps, of which 75 were in the city. Here, the immersions took place on the Padma River between 3-8pm.
The five-day festival started on October 11.
On Wednesday, a derogatory social media posting centring the holy Quran stoked communal tensions in Cumilla and sparked attacks on puja celebrations in different places of the country.
Four people died in a mob-police clash in Chandpur's Hajiganj on Wednesday night. Subsequently, Section 144 was imposed in Hajiganj and BGB personnel were deployed.
Apart from Cumilla and Chandpur, media reports suggest puja celebrations in Chattogram's Banshkhali and Karnaphuli, Cox's Bazar's Pekua, Moulvibazar's Kamalganj and Kulaura, and Chapai Nawabganj's Shibganj upazila were also attacked.
Yesterday, a protest erupted after some people tried to storm into the JM Sen Hall Puja mandap in Chattogram city. Protestors called a hartal and suspended immersion of the idols for four hours.