Kolkata: Former President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday took up the priest's role to offer Mahastami puja at his ancestral house in Mirati in Birbhum district.

Clad in dhoti, Mukherjee chanted hymns before the idol on the second day of the four-day Durga Puja as the devotees repeated the shlokas and offered pushpanjali (floral offerings) to the Goddess. His son and Congress leader Abhijit Mukherjee were present on the occasion, along with family members.

"Durga Puja symbolises peace and amity, Goddess Durga stands for power which slays evil. On this day, let's all take pledge for a peaceful world where everyone can live in harmony, a world freed of violence," Mukherjee told reporters after the Mahastami rituals.

"I extend my best wishes to all on the occasion of Durga Puja," Mukherjee added.

Mukherjee had arrived at the house on Monday from Kolkata in a car.

He had donned the priest's role at the household puja for years including the time when he was the President of India and a union minister beforehand.

Lakhs of devotees offered anjali (prayer) to the deity at community and household pujas across West Bengal on Wednesday. Thousands also thronged puja pandals during midday as Sandhi Puja rituals were performed before the idol.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had inaugurated a large number of Durga Pujas in the run up to the festival, wished people on her official Twitter handle on the occasion of Mahastami.