Durga puja is the greatest festival of the Bengalees. It is celebrated not only as barowari pujas but also in bonedi Bengali households.
1. Hathkhola Dutta Barir Pujo
Dutta house of 78, Nimtala Ghat Street, Kolkata was built by Dewan Jagatram Dutta in the late eighteenth century. Being a conservative family, they kept themselves aloof from the frivolities of spending money. Both Durga and Kali Puja were held here at the thakurdalan. The Durga Puja was more than two hundred years old.
Once the idol was placed in the altar, none except the brahmins could touch it. On the day of Dasami, after the protima was removed from the altar, the married women of the household perform the baran. This household had a ritual of flying nilkantha bird after the immersion as an intimation to Lord Shiva that the goddess was returning to Kailash. Apart from Durga and Kali Puja they performed chariot festival or Rathyatra, which was held with great pomp and splendour in the earlier days.
2. Darjiparar Mitra Bari
Darjipara Mitra House of 19, Nilmoni Mitra Street, Kolkata was worshipping Devi Durga from 1809. The puja was started by Radha Krishna Mitra. Previously this area was called Darjipara because many dargis (or tailors) lived in this area.
The Mitra bari had a ritual of flying two nilkantha birds on the last day of the festival – one towards Kailash to send intimation to Shiva that the Goddess was returning home and the other to the sky facing Darjipara.
3. Akrur Dutta’s Durga Puja
Akrur Dutta’s Durga Puja of 1, Rajen Dutta Lane, Kolkata, was more than two hundred old. It began in the late eighteenth century at the thakurdalan, which, due to a flat, is invisible from the road. The weapons of Maa Durga were made of brass. They were put on the goddess on the day of bodhan and removed before immersion. Every year before the puja the brass weapons were polished. Originally hailing from Hooghly district, Akrur Dutta came to Calcutta in 1740 and started doing business with Pritiram Marh, the father-in-law of Rani Rashmoni, and it made him a wealthy person. Akrur Dutta was the founder of the Dutta family of Wellington Square.
4. Chorbagan Mitra Bari
Chorbagan Mitra Bari of 84, Muktaram Babu Street was more than three hundred and fifty years old. It was built by Ramsundar Mitra, who was by profession, a money lender.
The big house with six large pillars at the entrance bear testimony to the Gothic architecture. The famous Macintosh & Burn was entrusted with the responsibility of renovating the house. Ramsundar Mitra amassed huge fortune. It was said that he even lended money on interest to Lord Clive. The Durga Puja and Kali Puja was more than three hundred years old. The puja was held in the thakurdalan. The area around Muktaram Babu Street was previously known as Chorbagan as the area was infested with dacoits.
5. Chorbagan Chatterjee Bari
Chorbagan Chatterjee Bari of 120, Muktaram Babu Street is celebrating Durga Puja for more than 150 years It started in 1860 by Ram Chatterjee. Non vegetarian (amish bhog) is offered to the deity on all the days of the puja.
6.Chorbagan Seal Bari
The Durga puja of Chorbagan Seal Bari of 42, Muktaram Babu Street started in 1855. The house falls on the same side just a few steps after the Marble Palace. The family follows Vaishnavism. The thakurdalan was beautifully decorated and the idol was ‘mesmerizing.’
7. Motilal Seal’s House
The Durga puja of Motilal Seal’s house of 60, Colootola Street is more than 150 years old. Some proof of the so-called ‘colonial architecture’ which started in Calcutta during the British days is still found in this house. Though a wealthy businessman, Motilal Seal is known for his philanthropic activities. He was a supporter of widow remarriage. He even paid twenty thousand rupees to the first man who married the widow. A road, a ghat and even a ward of Medical College was named after him.
8. Khelat Ghosh’s Durga Puja
The most remarkable feature of Khelat Ghosh’s house of 47, Pathuriaghat Street is the 85 feet long corridor made of marble. The dancing hall has been covered into Khelat Ghosh Memorial Hall. Apart from Durga Puja, Jagaddhatri, Kartick and Saraswati Pujas are held in the thakurdalan; in each occasion the idol is prepared in the thakurdalan itself. The family also performs Kumari puja on the day of Astami.
That apart festivals like Rashyatra, Jhulanyatra and Dolyatra are also celebrated here. There are also a number of rooms below the thakurdalan, though they are not used now.
9. Mahendra Sreemany’s House
Mahendra Sreemany’s house of 17, Mahendra Sreemany Street (Sukea Street) was built around the year 1911. The Durga Puja is over a hundred years old. One can see the bust of Mahendra Sreemany in the thakurdalan.
Apart from being a wealthy man, he was also a social worker. The idol here is tradtional.
10. Ramgopal Saha’s House Durga Puja
Ramgopal Saha’s house of 4, Thakurdas Palit Lane, has a wonderfully decorated thakurdalan. The puja was started by Ramgopal Saha more than 175 years ago.
11. Halder Barir Pujo
Halder barir pujo of 15, Ramnath Kabiraj Lane was started by Rashmoni Dasi wife of Late Ramnarayan Halder 170 years ago. The idol is unique in the sense that it is made of astodhatu ( a mixture of eight metals) and the devi is Singhabahini.
According to Barun Kumar Halder, a member of the house, before the start of Singhabahini pujo, the Durga idol was prepared and worshipped in the thakurdalan itself. In that sense it is more than 170 years old. The thakurdalan contained stained glass decorations. Kali Puja was also celeberated here with great pomp and gaeity.
12. Dutta Family’s Durga Puja
The Durga puja of Dutta family of 62, Hidaram Banerjee Lane, was started by Gobinda Chandra Dutta, a businessman, in the year 1883. Here the thakurdalan is in a raised
platform with a flight of stairs. The idol is unique in the sense that Durga is seen with Shiva in the same platform with the lion and Mahisasur being absent.
13. Biswanath Motilal’s House
The house of Biswanath Motilal of 1/C, Durga Pithuri Lane was celebrating Durga Puja for over three centuries. This family was one of the oldest families of Calcutta. It is said that the Bowbazar area was given to his daughter-in-law as gift; hence the name Bowbazar. One could see partly worn-out stone-made name plate of Babu Biswanath Motilal.
14. Kabiraj Ganga Prasad Sen’s Durga Puja
The Durga puja of Kabiraj Gangaprasad Sen of 17, Kumartuli Street is more than 170 years old. Gangaprasad Sen was a reputed physician of his time and his patient was Ramakrishna Paramahansa. Locally the house is known as Kabiraj Bari. There is a stone plaque outside his house. Gangaprasad Sen’s fame spread far and wide. He earned a lot of money and started Durga Puja in his house. The thakurdalan was beautifully
decorated. Regarding the idol , there is an interesting thing to note; here Kartick stands left below Lakshmi and Ganesh on the right below Saraswati. Presently the puja is being conducted by a trust which was constituted by Kabirajji himself.
15. Adhar Lal Sen’s Family Durga Puja
Adhar Lal Sen’s family Durga Puja takes place in two houses 97A & 97B Beniatola Lane, Kolkata. The puja of 97A, Beniatola Lane was started by his father Ram Gopal Sen while that of 97B was visited by Ramakrishna Paramahansa twice during Durga Puja. There is a plaque outside the house saying that Ramakrishnadev visited the house of his disciple Adhar Lal Sen. Adhar Lal Sen was a meritorious student so much so that he stood eight in the Entrance Examination and he got admission in Presidency College. He was a poet. The house got fame by Ramakrishna’s visit and his poetic genius. But unfortunately Adhar Lal Sen died a premature death only at the age of thirty.
16. Amrita Lal Dawn’s House
Amrita Lal Dawn’s house of 8, Dinu Rakshit Lane, Kolkata is celebrating Durga Puja for more than a century. The Durga dalan is beautifully decorated. It was started by Amrita Lal Dawn, a businessman. Apart from Durga, the family also worships Goddess Jaghaddhatri and Kali. The family had its roots in Bankura district.
17. Badan Chandra Roy’s House
Badan Chandra Roy’s house of 2A, Gopal Chandra Lane is a trust estate since 1858. This is the 160th year of Durga Puja. The thakurdalan is very beautiful and quite large too. The lights on the sides of the thakurdalan adds beauty specially at night.
18. Purna Chandra Dhar’s House
The Durga Puja of Purna Chandra Dhar’s family of 32A, Debendra Mullick Road, is celebrating 160th puja this year. Purna Chandra Dhar had business with salt. Ramakrishna Paramahansa visited the thakurdalan and the plaque outside depicts it.
The speciality of the Durga protima is that instead of ten hands, Durga here has only two. This type of idol is called Abhaya Murti. Another striking feature of the idol is that it does not have any asur and instead of one lion it has two. The protima is unique. The family follows Vaishnavism and there is no animal sacrifice. Lord Narayan is also worshipped here along with Durga.
19. Narasimha Dawn Family’s Durga Puja
Narasimha Dawn Bari’s Durga Puja was celebrated from 1859 in 20, Vivekananda Road. The puja was started by Late Nandalal Daw. Previously the family had business on spices but presently they are gunmakers. Pictures of various types of guns, rifles, pistols are seen in the thakurdalan. The thakurdalan was beautifully decorated during the puja with chandeliars. The protima is highly gorgeous.
20. Jorasanko Dawn Bari
The Durga Puja of Jorsanko Dawn Bari of 12A, Shibkrishna Dawn Lane is continuing since 1840. Originally the puja was started by Gokul Chandra Dawn. Both the thakurdalan and the adjoining courtyard is pretty large and beautifully decorated. Here gold ornaments, diamonds and precious metals are used to decorate the chalchitra. In a single word, it can be described as mesmerising. One thing to note is that Belur Rasbari in Howrah district also belonged to this family.
21. Dutta Barir Puja (Balaram Dey Street Ghosh Barir Puja)
Dutta Barir Puja of 159, Balaram Dey Street was started in the year 1882. It had a large thakurdalan with equally large pillars. The family followed many rituals including carrying the protima on bamboos. Another thing to watch here is Sandhi Puja.
22. Manmotho Nath Ghosh Family’s Durga Puja
The house of Manmotho Nath Ghosh of 46, Pathuriaghata Street is well known as far as Indian Classical music is concerned. Manmotho Nath Ghosh is a great patron of classical music. It was he who initiated the All Bengal Music Conference in 1940.
This house has witnessed the performance of all major classical musicians. The family also celebrates Durga Puja with great pomp. The house has a courtyard and a white-coloured thakurdalan where the idol is being worshipped.
23. Baishnabdas Mullick’s Durga Puja
The Durga Puja of Baisnabdas Mullick’s house of 32, Darpanarayan Thakur Street started in the year 1785. The house has a large and decorated courtyard with a thakurdalan where the goddess is worshipped. A businessman by profession, Mullick started the puja. One unique thing about the protima here is that there is no idols of Lakshmi and Saraswati; instead there are idols of Jaya and Bijoya. Devi Durga is seated on the lap of Lord Shiva. Dhuno porana ritual is practised here by the married women on the day of Mahastami where towel is placed first on their heads and then the burning malsa. It is done mainly for not only the wellbeing of their children but also of their families. This unique ritual is observed on the day of Astami.
24. Bholanath Dham Dutta Bari
The Durga Puja of Bholanath Dutta’s house of 33/2, Beadon Street has a unique feature. Here Durga is sitting on the lap of Shiva and she has two hands.
This puja was started by Bholanath Dutta in the year 1905 at Bholanath Ashram in Varanasi. The house has a huge courtyard with a thakurdalan where the puja is held.
25. Pataldanga Basu Mullick Family Durga Puja
The Durga Puja of Basu Mallick family was held in two separate houses of 18 & 22, Radhanath Mullick Lane. Here the puja was started by Radhanath Mullick on premises no 18, Radhanath Mallick Lane way back in 1831. Mullick had business with the British.
18, Radhanath Mallick Lane, Kolkata.
It had a large courtyard and a thakurdalan where statues of mercury made of cast iron could be seen. The house also had a dancing room in the first floor. There are gas lamps which lighted the courtyard at night. The thakurdalan had stucco works. The main door of the house is made of wood.
22, Radhanath Mallick Lane, Kolkata.
The Durga Puja of 22, Radhanath Mallick Lane was started by Kshetra Chandra Basu Mallick, one of the grandsons of Radhanath Mallick. The decorated thakurdalan had a cast iron frame with glass behind it. Here Durga protima is ekchala.
26. Patuatola Banerjee Family’s Durga Puja
The Durga puja of Banerjee family of 8, Patuatola Lane dates back to 1890. All the rituals are performed by the family members including the preparation of bhog for the goddess which is exclusively done by the women of the household. In the earlier days there used to be a music conference; which still continues maintaining the old traditions.
27. Maniktala Saha Family’s Durga Puja
The Durga puja at 122A, Maniktala Street is celebrated for the last one-and-a-half century. The Sahas of Maniktala had salt business. The Sahas had a white coloured large
house with an equally big courtyard and a beautifully decorated thakurdalan. There are two white-coloured lions made of stone on the entrance to the thakurdalan.
28. Girish Ghosh’s Family Durga Puja
The Durga Puja of Ghosh Family of 4, Ghosh Lane, Maniktala, dates back to 1856. It was started by Girish Chandra Ghosh. The family originally hails from Hooghly district.
A striking feature of this puja is that there is no Sandhi puja on the day of Astami. Instead they perform Kalyani puja. There is a story why Sandhi puja was not held in the household. It is said when the Sandhi puja was taking place, the guru of Girish Chandra Ghosh died for which Kalyani puja started in place of Sandhi puja, where 108 oil lamps are lighted just like Sandhi puja. The family also performs rituals like Kumari puja and dhuno porano.
29. Jhamapukur Chandra Barir Durga Puja
Jhamapukur Chandra Bari is celebrating Durga Puja for the 252nd year. It was started by Subal Chand Chandra who had textile business. Earlier the puja was held at Jorasanko residence but from 1870 it was shifted to 24A, Bechu Chatterjee Street, Kolkata. The
uniqueness of the idol is that Durga is sitted side-by-side with Lord Shiva and she had two hands instead of ten.
30. Thanthania Dutta Bari
Thanthania Dutta Bari of 3, Bidhan Sarani, Kolkata is celebrating Durga Puja since 1855. The puja was started by Dwaraka Nath Dutta. The puja is performed through Vaisnav method. Dwaraka Nath Dutta used to give his workers puja bonus. The present priest’s family is performing the puja throught five generations. The puja is celebrated in a grand way till date. Like other bonedi houses, this family also observes ritual like dhuno porano. In the earlier days music, dance and yatras used to be held during the time of the Durga Puja and there was a facility in the first floor of the house in which exclusively the ladies of the family used to watch them.
31. Laha Family’s Durga Puja
The Durga Puja of Laha family is more two centuries old. The first generation of Laha family Madhu Mangal Laha had business connection in Saptagram. The Durga Puja flourished during the days of Late Prankrishna Laha. The uniqueness of the Durga protima is that Durga is seen here sitting in the lap of Shiva. She has neither any vahana
nor Asur. This is popularly known as Hara Gouri or Shiv Durga idol. The Durga Puja is celebrated with great pomp and splendour alternatively at 2A, Bidhan Sarani, or at 121, Muktaram Babu Street, or at 50A, Kailash Bose Street or at 1, Bechu Chatterjee Street. In this year (2017) the puja is held at 1, Bechu Chatterjee Street, Kolkata.
32. Chandra Family’s Durga Puja
The Durga Puja of Chandra family started in the year 1877 by Ganesh Chandra at 23, Nirmal Chandra Street. The house had a beautiful thakurdalan which was designed by famous architect, Sirish Chandra Chattopadhyay. The ex-minister Late Pratap Chandra Chandra belonged to this family. The protima here is ekchala.
33. Chatu Babu Latu Babu’s Durga Puja
The Durga Puja at ‘Ramdulal Nibas’ of 67E, Beadon Street was started by Ram Dulal Dey in the year 1770. After his death, the puja was continued by his two sons Asutosh Dey popularly known as ‘Chatu Babu’ and Pramathanath Dey popularly known as ‘Latu Babu’. This puja is famous as ‘Chatu Babu’ and ‘Latu Babu’s’ puja. The idol is unique. The
puja is celebrated with pomp and splendour. This puja attracts a lot of visitors.
34. Shovabazar Rajbarir Pujo
Shovabagar Rajbari comprises of two houses – 33 & 36 Raja Nabakrishna Street. The Durga Puja first started at 33, Raja Nabakrishna Street in 1757 by Raja Nabakrishna Deb, founder of Shovabazar Rajbari. Lord Clive was invited here. The first house belonged to
33, Raja Nabakrishna Street, Kolkata.
Nabakrishna’s adopted son Gopimohan. The second house at 36, Raja Nabakrishna Street belonged to Nabakrishna’s natural son, Rajkrishna.
36, Raja Nabakrishna Street, Kolkata.
35. Rani Rashmoni’s Family Durga Puja
13, Rani Rashmoni Road, Kolkata.
The Durga Puja of Rani Rashmoni’s family was celebrated by three families at 13, Rani Rashmoni Road; 18/3, S.N. Banerjee Road and 18, Rani Rashmoni Road. The puja at 13, Rani Rashmoni Road is the one which was visited by Ramakrishna Paramahansadev. This puja is currently celebrated by Hazra family. After the death of Rani Rashmoni in 1861, the puja was celebrated by her daughers and son-in-laws. The second puja is celebrated by Chowdhury family. It is at 18/3, Surendra Nath Banerjee Road.
18, Rani Rashmoni Road, Kolkata.
The third puja is celebrated at 18, Rani Rashmoni Road by the Biswas family. This family is related to Mathurmohan Biswas (son-in-law of Rani Rashmoni) popularly known as ‘Mathur Babu’. The house has a square-shaped courtyard with a white-coloured thakurdalan. The protima is traditional ekchala type with dakher saaj.
36. Sabarna Roy Chowdhury’s family Durga Puja
The Durga Puja of Sabarna Roy Chowdhury is celebrated in eight different locations; out of which six are in Barisha (Aatchala; Barobari; Mejobari; Benakibari, Majherbari and Kalikinkarbari), one at Birati (Biratibari) and the eight and the last one at Nimta (Nimta-Pathanpur Bari).
The one at Aatchala at 26, Sabarna Para Road is the oldest having started in the year 1610 A.D by Laksmikanta Majumder and his wife Bhagabati Devi and currently the puja is celebrating its 408th year. The structure in which the first Durga idol was built during the time of Laksmikanta Majumder is still used today for preparing the idol.
37 Behala Roy Barir Durga Puja
The Durga Puja at 4/1, Roy Bahadur Road, Behala was started by Ambika Charan Roy way back in 1756, a year earlier than Shovabazar Rajbarir pujo. Other than Durga Puja, Jagadhatri Puja is also celebrated here. The house has a beautiful thakurdalan.
38. Kali Mohan Ghosh Roy Family’s Durga Puja
This puja is currently being held at Flight Lt. Tapan Chowdhury Avenue (Southern Avenue) diagonally opposite to ‘Jaalkhabar’ sweet shop. The puja was intitally started in 1829 in Barishal district (currently in Bangladesh). Durga here is painted blue in colour.
It is so because of a swapnadesh given to a family member to worship Debi Durga in the form of Goddess Kali. This puja is currently held for the 41st year in the present premises.
[For the past 25 years I have been taking photos of Durga Puja in pandals of Kolkata. It was then the time of film cameras, when photography was really a costly hobby. At that time I have got only a point-and-shoot camera, which was presented to me by my mother. Then with the advancement of technology digital cameras came in place replacing films with memory cards. During the years I have seen so many Durgas in so many forms in so many pandals of Kolkata. But in this year (2017) I decided to take a deviation from my usual pandal hopping and concentrate on Kolkata’s ‘Bonedi barir’ pujos. In this connection I would pay my deepest respect to Sri Amitabha Gupta whose blog provided me inspiration to write this and provided me the necessary information. I would also like to thank my mother and my wife who accompanied me during my visit to the ‘bonedi baris‘ of Kolkata and never showed their irritation during the trip. I would like to state that due to shortage of time, I have missed some houses where Durga Puja is equally famous. Lastly, I would like to thank Sri. Roy Subhadip Gangopadhyay Majumder Chowdhury of Barisha for providing the necessary information about Sabarna Roy Chowdhury’s family Durga Puja. Another book which helped me a lot during my work is ‘Bonedi Kolkatar Gharbari’ by Debashis Bandopadhyay & Alok Mitra. For any comment or suggestion regarding the topic is always welcome in my mail id: email@example.com].
Date of posting: 5th October, 2017.