Celebration of Durga Puja Among the Bonedi Bari’s

Durga Puja is said to be one of the greatest festivals of Bengali’s and more than a festival it is a carnival where family, friends get to reunite with each other after a long time. Durga Puja is not just a celebration of 5 days but months of longing to get a glimpse of “white kaashful” and clear blue autumn skies.

There are aristocratic families in Kolkata, who have been celebrating puja for a long, some even more than 250 years and some even more than before the city of Calcutta came into existence. These traditional Durga pujas are called “Bonedi Bari Durga Puja”.

These pujas draw thousands of visitors every year just to understand the true essence of puja. 

1. Roy Chowdhury Family Durga Puja: The Aatchala Durga Puja is considered to be the oldest Durga puja celebration in Kolkata. It was started in the year 1608 by zamindars Lakshmikanta Roy Chowdhury and his wife Bhagawati, in the Barisha Area of Southern Kolkata. 

The idols are designed in traditional “Motichuri” style and the structure of the Durga idol that was first built during the time of Lakshmikanta Roy Chowdhury is preserved and it is still used today while preparing the idol 

2. Raja Nabakrishna Deb Family: The Durga Puja here is celebrated for 263 years and it is known for its Grand Shabeki Durga Puja. The idol of Devi Durga along with her four children is presented in an “Ek Chala” or single standing platform. One of the specialties of this puja is Mithaai Bhog or Prasadam. 

Another distinctive feature of this puja is that the lion has the face of a horse. In 1757, it was the first time a non-Hindu, Robert Clive, and other officials were allowed and invited to a Hindu household during the celebration.

3. Purnendu Chandra Dhar Family: This household worships Maa Durga as Abhaya Maa not as the common demon-slaying pose and the idol has two hands in the place often. The puja held here is 157 years old. Maa Durga is surrounded by her children and her hand-maidens.

4. Jorasanko Daw Bari Durga Puja: This puja is almost 180 years old and was started by Gokul Chandra Daw in 1890. It is believed that Maa Durga comes to the house of Daw to wear her jewelry. The idol of Maa Durga is decorated in gold and silvers.

5. Laha Family Durga Puja: Laha family Durga puja is considered as the oldest and grandest Durga pujas among all the ancestral puja. The Durga Puja here dates back to almost 200 years. The idol here is referred to as “Haragouri” and the Durga idol sits atop Lord Shiva with her eyes closed. 

6. Khelat Ghosh Family: This puja offers the grandest ‘Thakur dalan’ in the city. This grand puja is located in Pathuriaghata in North Kolkata and is known for its 80-feet long marble grand dancing hall. One must visit here to experience the grandeur.

7. Rani Rashmoni family: This Durga puja is famous because it was started by Rani Rashmoni’s father- in -law and later Rani Rashmoni continued it, who founded the Dakshineswar Kali Temple. 

After her death, the puja was continued by her daughters. The idol here is purely handmade and doesn’t use any mold. These “bonedi bari puja” are still now celebrated the same way as their ancestors did it. The tradition, emotion surrounding the puja has remained the same throughout centuries. 

Written by - Srijita Roy

Edited by - Rudransh Khurana

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