Chetla (now a place in South Kolkata) was once a very crowded business area as it was by the side of Adi Ganga, which was the main waterway of the Ganges. The area started populating after 1770. A number of bonedi families like Najir Bari (1861), Addya Bari (1830), Shyam Bose (1840) came to this place and started living here. Gradually they started Durga Puja in their thakurdalan. Some of the families are still continuing the age-old tradition. I along with Shri Subrata Kumar Brahma, a resident of Chetla visited four such pujas this evening.
Najir Bari: Peary Mohan Roy (1841-1948) popularly known as Najir Babu built the present house in 1897. The road is named after him and known as Peary Mohan Roy Road. Apart from Durga Puja, Jhulanyatra, Rathayatra and Rashyatra are also celebrated here. The present nat mandir is more than hundred years old. Built in 1916, it is very well maintained. Durga Puja is continuing from 1897 onwards and is presently held at the nat mandir.
The protima is traditional. Earlier it was prepared in the dalan itself; but now it was brought from outside. The puja is performed according to Baisnab rituals. The speciality here is that niramish (vegetarian) bhog is offered to the deity. Instead of anna (rice) bhog; luchi bhog is offered to the goddess. Kumari puja is performed here on the day of Nabami. The entrance to the house has a nahabatkhana where senhai was played during the festive days and putul nach (dancing of dolls) was a star attraction; but now-a-days neither senhai was heard nor putul nach was seen.
Ganguly Bari: This house of 42/1, Chetla Road, Kolkata – 27 was close to Adi Ganga. The Durga Puja was started here by Pratap Chandra Ganguly in the opening years of the twentieth century. Maa Annapurna, made of astodhatu (an alloy of eight metals) is worshipped in this household round the year. The Durga idol is prepared in the dalan itself. The puja is performed following the Shakta rituals; and from the day of Bodhan, till Nabami, on each and every day animal sacrifice is performed. Like other bonedi houses, Kumari puja is performed on the day of Nabami.
I was told that during the days of Durga Puja, the idol is placed in the permanent mandap (see picture) and Maa Annapurna is taken to another adjacent room and after the puja is over Maa Annapurna is again placed in the mandap.
Manmotha Das Chakraborty’s House: This house situated in Gobinda Auddy Road is celebrating Durga Puja from 1927 onwards. Jagadhatri Puja along with Durga Puja are being celebrated here from the very beginning but for the last fifteen years Jagadhatri Puja is being stopped. I was told that previously Rashyatra was also celebrated here with great pomp and gaeity. But Satyanarayan Puja is still being held on each and every purnima (full moon day) round the year.
The protima is of traditional ekchala. The same mandap also houses the idols of Lakshmi Janardan Jiu. Here puja is performed following the Baisnab rituals.
Matali Bari: Matali Bari situated at the juncture of Peary Mohan Roy Road and Shyam Bose Road is another house where Durga Puja is being celebrated. The dalan reminds of the bygone days. Presently the condition of the dalan is not good and requires immediate renovation. The idol was prepared at the house itself previously.
Earlier this puja was pretty famous. The protima is of traditional type. I was told that this puja is about a hundred years old. Suren Matali used to organise the puja and after his demise, the puja was looked after by Tulsi Matali.
Chetla Smriti Bissmritir Antarale by Subrata Kumar Brahma.
I was personally accompanied by the author to these four pujas on the evening of Maha Panchami and it was memorable experience to me.
A thing to note here is that I personally reside very close to Chetla and I had a strong desire to write about these age-old family pujas and Shri Brahma made my dream came true. There are a number of houses where Durga Puja was previously celebrated but now being stopped; and, hence, I could not cover them in my blog.
Date of posting: 3rd October, 2019.