Krishnanagar, the district headquarter of Nadia is famous for Jagaddhatri puja which lasts for one day – Nabami; whereas in Chandannagar, Mankundu and Bhadreswar (all in Hooghly district) it is a four-day festival like the Durga Puja. Apart from Jagaddhatri puja Krishnanagar is famous for another festival – Barodol Mela.
Though a month-long fair, one can witness thirteen Radha Krishna idols (including that of Rajbari) – all from Nadia district are worshipped in the eastern side of the puja mandap within the Rajbari compound in the first three days and they are placed in separate wooden thrones.
The festival is normally held after the Dolyatra in the Sukla ekadashi tithi. Here Krishna idols can be seen in three atires – on the first day of the festival – Raj besh; on the second day – Phul (flower) besh and on the third day – Rakhal besh.
The month-long festival attracts a large number of people. There are many stalls selling different types of items from household commodities to home decor. One can even witness a circus and merry-go-round.
The compound gets crowded with people of age group from eight to eighty not only of Nadia district but also of the other districts including Kolkata. Barodol mela has turned into a heritage fair which is still continuing without any interruption and every year the number of shops are increasing. With age, the nature of the fair is changing as modern amenities are being sold.
This year the fair started on the 15th of April, which also happens to be the Bengali New Year’s Day. I arrived at the Rajbari at around nine in the morning and witnessed the festival. All the photographs of the idols here are in Raj besh.
I found that all the Krishna idols were put on Raj besh and people are sprinkling abir (coloured powders) at them. Not only that I found tiny green mangoes being thrown at the idols. As the mango is the first fruit of the season, the people of Nadia dedicate it to the Krishna idols. It was totally a different experience for me which I enjoyed a lot.
The festival was started in the year 1764 (according to some in 1744) by Maharaja Krishnachandra. Since then the fair is going on for more than two and a half century. Though Barodol, the idols being thirteen in number including that of Baronarayan Chandra of Krishnanagar Rajbari.
The other idols were brought from different areas to the Rajbari like Shree Shree Madangopal from Birohi; Shree Shree Gopal from Nabadwip; Shree Shree Garergopal from Shantipur. Instead of the idol of Shree Shree Gopinath of Agradwip, the photo of the same is worshipped.
There was a story connected with this famous mela. It was said that Choto Rani (queen) once requested Maharaja Krishnachandra to take her to Ula village fair; but he somehow forgot it owing to his busy work. Later Krishnachandra brought the whole fair in the Rajbari itself and which is being continued till date as the famous Barodol mela of Krishnanagar.
The Rajbari gates are opened for the general public during the first three days of the festival. People from even far-off places visit Krishnanagar to witness this famous mela. After the end of three days, all the Krishna idols were sent to their respective temples from where they came.
To visit Krishnanagar, take any early morning local train from Sealdah and reach Krishnanagar; or for a comfortable ride, take the 6:50 am Hazarduari Express from Kolkata station and reach Krishnanagar by 8:48 am. It will stop only at Barrackpore and Ranaghat station and, therefore, just less than two hours journey from Kolkata. From Krishnanagar station take a toto and reach the Rajbari.
Date of posting: 30th April, 2019.