Jagaddhatri Puja is the main festival of Krishnannagar. It is a one day puja – on the day of Nabami normally held in the month of November every year. The star attraction of this festival is the Jagaddhatri Puja of Krishnanagar Rajbari, started by Maharaja Krishna Chandra (1728-1782). It was roughly in 1762. From then onwards the puja is still being celebrated in the same natmandir with great pomp and splendour.
Jagddhatri Puja in Krishnanagar Rajbari had a history. It was said that Maharaja Krishna Chandra was once detained in Munger prison and, for which, he could not remain present during the Durga Puja in 1762. He was very much disheartened as he could not offer puspanjali to Maa Durga. It was the Dasami then, and the puja was already over and the idols were being immersed in the river. He was returning by boat. Seeing that Durga puja was over, the Maharaja was in tears. And he fell asleep in the boat. At night he had a dream in which he saw teen-aged debi sitting on a lion looking like a white horse telling him not to get disheartened and informed that the goddess will again come to him about a month later on the Sukla Nabami tithi in the Bengali month of Kartick (October-November).
Seeing the dream Maharaja Krishna Chandra immediately instructed Shiv Chandra and thereby an idol of Goddess Jagaddhatri was prepared. The idol looked almost the same as what Maharaja had seen in his dream. The goddess looked like a teenager and the white lion in which she was sitting was facing the front side. The lion looked like the knight of the chessboard. It had a reference in the Puranas. The goddess Jagaddhari had four hands and she was armed with conch (sankha), discuss (chakra), bow and arrow. The Maharaja even thought that he would first offer puja to Maa Jagaddhatri and only, after that, he would enter the palace (Krishnanagar Rajbari). Krishna Chandra informed the Kulaguru, that what he had done is on the basis of the divine instructions he had received from the goddess. The Kulaguru was equally overwhelmed at this.
The family is still maintaining the age-old tradition as far as the rituals of the puja is concerned. On the day of Nabami, all the three pujas – Saptami, Astami and Nabami including that of Sandhi puja is to be performed. The puja starts in the morning with kichuri (a preparation of rice and pulse) and nine different types of bhaja (fry) being offered to the debi. The bhog here is non-vegetarian and includes fish. Bali or sacrifice earlier took place; but now completely stopped. Instead, sugarcane, chalkumra and banana are offered as sacrifice. The vital part of this festival is Sandhi puja held after the Astami puja on the same day, followed by hom.
The interior of the natmandir is really beautiful to look at and, especially, one will be astonished to witness the pankher kaaj and here apart from Jagaddhatri Puja, Durga Puja and Barodol Mela, Krishnanagar are held when the natmandir is open to the public.
In order to visit Krishnanagar, take any Krishnanagar bound train from Sealdah in the morning and get down at Krishnanagar City Junction station and take any auto or toto to reach the Rajbari. Or else, for a quick and comfortable journey take the morning Hazarduari Express from Kolkata station and within two hours you will reach Krishnanagar.
Date of posting: 5th November, 2019.