Myraid faces of the Goddess

The Asian Age : 24th September 1998

In 1757 when Siraj-ud-daulah the last independent nawab of Bengal was vanquished, rich businessmen & zamindars celebrated the occasion because the nawab was an abominable ruler.It was during this time that Raja Nabakrishna Deb started celebrating Durga puja.

That year he invited Lord Clive along with some top brasses of the East India Company to participate in the festivities. Like Nabkrishna Deb many other zamindars too bgun celebrating Durga puja.

In Calcutta one of the first family to celebrate the festival was Saborno Chowdhury’s family.The puja was introduced by Laxmi Kanta Roy Muzumdar in 1610..In 1785 Ramdulal Dey Sarkar stared Durga puja at 67B Biddon street.Subsequently this puja was popularized as Chotobabu – Latubabur puja.The special feature of theor idol is that it does not ride a lion but a horselike animal.Laxmi & Saeaswati are not worshipped here along with Durga.

The puja celebrated by the Malliks of Pathuriaghata on 32 Darpanarayan Tagore street started nearly 175 years ago.Here the devi is seated on Shiva’s lap.Laxmi & Saraswati are standing on the either side while Ganesh & Kartik are seated below.A lion also features in this unique idol.

The puja of Dutta bari on Thanthania also dates back to the previous century.Dwarkanath Dutta a business tycoon of that period had started this puja.The thakur dalan was built in 1855.Here the puja is performed in Nandikeshwar puran style.

In 1760 Ramnarayan Dha began celebrating Durga puja at 64 Joy Mitra Street.Here devi Durga is seated cross legged on a throne.

The family puja of Haldars at Bagbazar is also among the oldest puja in Bengal.The image is century old.It is painted in every twelve years & the colors are known as Ashtaranga.

Between 1810 to 1825 a rich Calcuttan Shobharam Basak started worshipping the deity in his family. The family idol is made of Ashtadhatu.The durga here is known as Monomohini.One hundred & eight earthen lamps are lit at the time of auspicious sandhi puja.

Durga puja is also celebrated in many other household of Calcutta.Each family celebrate the puja in it’s own way adhering ti it’s own set of rules & rituals.Centuries have gone by but these royal families try their best to add colour to the festival each in it’s own way.