Bhadreswar, a muncipal town of Hooghly district of West Bengal, roughly 28 kms from Howrah can be reached both by rail and road. It is the 11th station from Howrah in the Howrah-Bandel section of the Eastern Railway. This industrial town is located to the south of Chandannagar. The mention of Bhandreswar can be found in Bipradas’s Manasamangal.
A beautiful nabaratna temple dedicated to Goddess Annapurna is one of the prime attraction of the town. The south-facing temple was built by the then zamindar Baidyanath Bandopadhyay at Telinipara on the day of Dolyatra in the Bengali year 1208 which according to Gregorian calendar dated back to 1801 A.D. The temple follows the nabaratna style of Bengal’s temple architecture. But a close look will reveal that it deviates from the traditional nabaratna style. The first floor has four pinnacles while the ratnas present in the second floor has comparatively lesser in size. The use of pillars depict the European style. The temple has undergone major repair work, according to Sri Adwaitya Banerjee, family member and trustee of the temple. According to him the temple was registered under the Societies Act in the year 2004.
Inside the temple sanctum there is an wooden throne on which Devi Annapurna made of astodhatu (an alloy of eight metals) along with Mahadev is there. The idol of Lord Mahadev is made of silver and is placed on the right of the goddess. Apart from them, the throne also has place for Lakshmi Narayan Jiu Goddess Lakshmi and Saraswati and Narayan sila. Daily worship is performed here and Devi Annapurna is offered rice and fish; five types of bhaja, a vegetable preparation (tarkari); dal (puleses); payesh and chutney. This menu is followed throughout the year (for 361 days) except on the four days of Ambubachi.
The temple has also three Shiva lingams made of kasthi pathar (touch stone); though previously there were four. As one of the lingams got broken, it was immersed in the Ganges. The Shiva temples are placed on the right. During Shivaratri, many devotees came here and offered worship.
The three Shiva lingams.
Apart from Annapurna puja, the other festivals which are celebrated here with equal pomp and splendour are Jhulan festival, Durga puja, Satyanarayan puja on the day of Kojagari Lakshmi puja, Kali puja, Saraswati puja, Shivaratri and Dolyatra. On the auspicious day of Akshay Tritiya (normally held either in the month of April or May) a special puja and celebration are held which is the prime attraction. According to Sri Banerjee, there is a chariot made of brass containing nine pinnacles is made to ply on the nearby road. It sounds something uncommon as rath or chariot is normally associated with Lord Jagannath’s Rathyatra held in the Bengali month of Aashar (June-July).
This rathyatra has a special feature to offer to the people of Telinipara. It stops at each and every house and people offer their woship to Maa Annapurna. The objective behind this is Devi Annapurna wants to enquire about the wellbeing of the people of Telinipara. At the Ganges ghat people are offered khichuri (a meal made of rice and pulses); labra (a vegetable preparation); payesh (milk with rice) and chutney. In the evening on its return journey, the chariot suddenly stops at Telinipara barowaritala. Then following the age-old tradition, the male members of the Bandopadhyay family singing songs carries the idols of Lakshmi-Narayan Jiu in a palanquin from the main temple to that place where the chariot is standing to convince Devi Annapurna to return as night is approaching. The goddess is finally convinced. From there first goes the palanquin followed by the chariot. The goddess finally returns to the temple late in the evening. On that day the devotees can touch the goddess and they can perform their rituals by offering sindur (vermilion); and late at night, the idol is bathed with seven seas oil, water, perfume and dressed in new clothes is again placed in the wooden throne inside the temple.
Now coming to Durga puja, here it is celebrated for ten days – from the day of Mahalaya to Dasami. During this time along with Devi Annapurna, Maa Durga is also woshipped in the temple premises. The puja is performed by two priests. On the seventh day of the puja, i.e., Maha Saptami, the goddess is offered with 52 types of bhog. Mr. Banerjee informs me that no subscription is collected from outside. Many people came here during that time and they were offered bhog. I have been told that Bijoya is performed in their own ghat. On the day of Kojagari Lakshmi puja, only Satyanarayan puja is held. Dolyatra (also known as Falguni purnima), being the foundation day of this temple, special puja and celebration are also performed.
The temple can be reached by road – Grand Trunk Road and get down at Bhadreswar Telinipara or else if you opt for the rail route, the nearest railway station is Bhadreswar in Howrah-Bandel section. From the station take a toto and reach the temple.
I am thankful to Sri Adwaitya Banerjee.
Date of posting: 12th May, 2019.