From Sovabazar Rajbari to Rani Rashmoni’s House, 6 Heritage Bonedi Pujas One Must Visit in Kolkata
While the rest of India may celebrate the festivities as the triumph of good over evil, for Kolkatans, it is a bit more intimate in the way they view Goddess Durga, both as a mother and a daughter who is visiting their homes after a year’s hiatus.
Image for representation. (Reuters)
One of the biggest festivals of Bengal, Durga Puja celebrates the return of the Goddess to her paternal place with her four children from Kailasha. While the rest of India may celebrate the festivities as the triumph of good over evil, for Kolkatans, it is a bit more intimate in the way they view Goddess Durga, both as a mother and a daughter who is visiting their homes after a year’s hiatus. While Barowari pujas may be all the rage, with numerous marquees and installations dotting the cityscape, the original hosts of Goddess Durga, who have been celebrating Durga Puja since the long lost era are the ancient families which still continue with their traditions. The traditional household Pujas of Kolkata, also known as Bonedi Barir Puja in Bengali are a must visit for anyone trying to understand the true essence of Durga Puja.
Here is a list of 6 heritage bonedi pujas one must visit in Kolkata:
Sovabazar Rajbari Puja: More than 250 years old, the Sovabazar Rajbari Puja was started by Raja Nabakrishna Deb. Historical records show that the Puja would even see the British lords and ladies gracing it with their presence. One of the specialties of the puja is its Mithaai Bhog (prasadam). While the Sovabazar Rajbari had the tradition of flying Nilkantha birds on Dashami, after this was forbidden by the Wildlife Preservation Act, they started immersing clay models of the bird along with the Durga idols.
Rani Rashmoni family Durga Puja: The Durga Puja at the Janbazar residence of Rani Rashmoni was originally started by the Rani’s father-in-law Babu Pritaram Marh (Das) in 1974. Currently, this Puja is being held at 13, Rani Rashmoni Road. It is at the courtyard of this house where Sri Ramkrishna Paramahansa Deb used to conduct Durga Puja.
Chatu Babu Latu Babu Family’s Durga Puja: A crimson hued grand building on Beadon Street in North Kolkata celebrates one of the oldest Durga Pujas in Kolkata. Started in 1770 by Ishwar Ram Dulal Deb (Sarkar), the Goddess is decorated with family heirlooms and ornaments that include a dazzling ‘Naulakha Necklace”. Furthermore, the Goddess is flanked by her companions Jaya and Biyaja.
Thanthania Dutta Family Durga Puja: A must visit Durga Puja in Kolkata; the Goddess here is not worshipped in her ten-armed rudra or fierce form, but in the Hara-Gouri form. Goddess Parvati can be seen sitting on the lap of Lord Shiva peacefully displaying Abhaya and Varada Mudra. The Durga Puja was started in 1855 by Dwarakanath Dutta.
HaatKhola Dutta Family Durga Puja: Started in 1794, the Goddess here wears a clay saree and even sports clay jewellery. Moreover, Kartik is dressed as a soldier in uniform at the Haatkhola Dutta family puja. Every year a khirer putul (sugar doll) is sacrificed as a symbolic gesture at the puja.
Sabarna Roy Choudhury Family Durga Puja: It was from this family that the British East India Company acquired the villages of Sutanuti, Govindapur and Kalkata, which later consolidated into what became the city of Calcutta (Kolkata). While the Durga Puja conducted here has broken up into different branches, the most famous one is the family’s Atchala Pujo dating back to 1610, which is also the oldest in the city.
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