Konnagar, a municipality of Hooghly district houses a number of families where Durga Puja is famous and some are celebrated for centuries. On the day of Mahastami, I visited six such families and covered them in this post.
Mitra Family of T. N. Mitra Lane:
Travelling through Grand Trunk Road my first destination was Mitra Family of T.N.Mitra Lane. Entering the house, I found the thakurdalan on the left. The condition of the same is not in a good state. I even spotted a couple of pillars whose plasters have peeled with the passage of time and the bricks that were used there were very thin. You can simply think of its age. Yes, the dalan together with the Durga Puja is more than two centuries old. The puja was started here way back in 1798 by Ram Mitra. The puja is performed following the Shakta rituals. I was told previously there used to be buffalo sacrifice but now it was stopped. Instead, fruits and vegetables are sacrificed. On the day of Nabami, there were nine sacrifices – cucumber, banana, sugarcane, lemon.
Like in many household families the protima is built in the thakurdalan and I was told that the family of the same potter which built the first thakur was entrusted the duty of preparing the idol. Kumari Puja is held on the day of Nabami. I came to know that the cost of this Durga Puja during the initial stages was only ten rupees.
Durga Puja of Roy Mitra family:
This puja of Roy Mitra Sarani is one of the oldest puja of Konnagar. Started way back in 1107 Bangabda (1700 A.D) by Kalidas Mitra. The Roy Mitras have two separate bathing ghats in Konnagar – Ramdhan ghat for the women and Singhi ghat for the male. Earlier the family used to carry Kalabou (Nabapatrika) on a palanquin to the Ganges ghat but now the practice has been stopped. There used to be a room to keep the palki (palanquin) but currently has been remodelled. At present nabapatrika is bathed in the thakurdalan.
The thakurdalan is pretty old with 30 inch wall but the outer portion is plastered. The puja is performed following the Shakta rituals but no animal sacrifice is performed. There is no practice of Kumari Puja and Dhuno porano in this family.
The title of Roy was given to the family by the Mughals. As of other bonedi families of the area, the protima is built in the dalan and Kathamo puja is held on the auspicious day of Janamastami. I was told that Bijoya is held in the morning and the protima is taken to the Singhi ghat for bisarjan.
Durga Puja of Mukhopadhyay family:
The Durga Puja of Mukhopadhyay family also known as Beltala Barir Pujo was started in the middle of the nineteenth century by Chandra Sekhar Mukhopadhyay. The nearby road is named after him. The original dalan was destroyed, and, in place a new was built about sixty years back.
The traditional ek chala protima is built in the thakurdalan from Rathayatra following the kathamo puja. I was told on that day paramanno is offered. Coming to the puja rituals, I was told Durga Puja is celebrated here following the Baisnab rituals as there is no sacrifice. Annabhog is given to Maa Durga.
Durga Puja of Dutta Family:
The Durga Puja of Dutta family of C. S Mukherjee Street is also an old puja. Like other family puja the protima is ekchala. The puja is performed following the Baisnab rituals. Kumari Puja is observed here on Nabami.
I was told that the puja was interrupted for some years in between but now it is continuing.
Ghosal Barir Pujo:
The oldest Durga Puja of Konnagar is of Ghosal family. The puja started way back in 1454 A.D. After protipad, bodhan and chandipath starts. The dalan is very old. The nearby old Harishabha was established by the Ghosals and the idols of Shyamsundar and Radhika are worshipped along with Debi Durga in the thakurdalan of the Ghosal family during the days of the puja.
After the Dasami puja is over the idol of Maa Durga is placed in the courtyard from the dalan and the female members of the family perform the baran. After that the idol was immersed in the Ganges. Previously, naukabihar was performed prior to bisarjan but now it was stopped.
The puja here is performed according to Kalika Puran. As per as the chalchitra is concerned it is triangular in shape and three in number. The head of the lion is like Nrisingha type. The size of idol of Maa Durga is limited to 7-8 feet.
Durga Puja of Banerjee family:
The last puja to cover in Konnagar is the Durga Puja of Banerjee family off Aurobinda Road. Here the puja started in 1964 though the Kali Puja of this family is much older. The puja is followed Shakta traditions. Kumari Puja is held on Nabami. There is no Dhuno porano and Aparajita Pujo here. The protima is built in the dalan and after the puja the kathamo is kept in the thakurdalan round the year.
Two unique thing about this puja is – the male family member performs the role of the priest and the family is strictly on vegetarian diet during the days of the puja. Only after the bisarjan is performed in the ghot, the family resumes the non-veg diet.
There are other household pujas in Konnagar but due to shortage of time I could not cover them in my trip.
I would like to thank Shri Sandip Mitra, Smt. Sharmistha Roy Mitra, Shri Chandan Mukherjee; Shri Sajal Dutta, Shri Ananda Ghosal and Shri Saptarshi Banerjee who helped me in providing information about their respective family pujas.
Date of posting: 14th October, 2021.