Durga Puja is the greatest festival of the Bengalees. It is celebrated not only in barowari puja pandals but also in many bonedi households of Bengal. In Calcutta, (now Kolkata) it is held in many houses with much pomp and splendour maintaining all the age-old rituals and customs. One such house is Jorasanko Dawn Bari of 12A, Shibkrishna Dawn Lane where the puja is being held since 1840.
The Durga Puja was originally started by Gokul Chandra Dawn and the tradition was carried on by Shib Krishna Dawn and later on by his descendents till date. I was pretty lucky to witness the puja on the day of Astami followed by Sandhi puja when I was invited by Shri Atanu Dawn in the year 2018. The thakurdalan was pretty big and nicely decorated. When I went there in the morning I found the preparation for Astami puja was going on in full swing.
The kathamo or the structure of the ten feet idol was prepared from garan kath on the auspicious day of Rathyatra. The chalchitra was prepared by the artists of Kalighat. Shib Krishna Dawn brought tabak from Germany to decorate the chalchitra. The chalchitra is really spectacular. The dazzling weapons are made of brass. Maa Durga puts on gold ornaments. I would like to mention here that there was a saying that Maa Durga comes to wear her jeweleries at Jorasanko Dawn Bari, have her meal at Abhaycharan Mitra’s house and listens to the music at Shovabazar Rajbari.
On the morning of Saptami nabapatrika is bathed with all the waters of the Hindu pilgrimmages and in which, rain water is essential. Naibidya is served in stone utensils.
The puja is performed following the Baisnab rituals. There is no bali or sacrfice. Dhuno porana, a ritual for the well being of the children, is performed by the female members of the family on the day of Mahastami. The Sandhi puja is a thing to watch. On 2018, Mahastami and Sandhi puja coincided, and that too within a gap of an hour. Before the start of Sandhi puja the entire courtyard was cleaned with water. Later holy water was sprinkled and hymns chanted. There is pin drop silence and Sandhi puja started. It a memorable experience for me to witness Sandhi puja there. Arati is performed in the second half of the 48 minute puja which is a thing to watch. Kumari puja and hom are also part of this puja.
Jorasanko Daw Bangsha Britanto (second edition) by Haradhan Dutta.
Date of Posting: 16th October, 2020.