Basanti Puja, like Durga Puja is a four-day festival held in the Bengali month of Chaitra (March-April) every year. In many bonedi households of Bengal, this puja is still performed following all rituals. There are a few houses where both Goddess Basanti and Durga are worshipped. One such household is that of Kundu Chowdhury of Mohiari, Andul in Howrah district.
I am very lucky to witness both the pujas. You have to walk through a green-coloured grand entrance and turn left to see the magnificent thakurdalan of the Kundu Chowdhury’s. Here both the pujas are held and the most unique thing is both Basanti and Durga pujas are performed in the same kathamo (structure).
The puja is meticulously performed here following the Baisnav rituals. The family deity is Lakshmi-Janardan who is worshipped on a daily basis and during the pujas it is worshipped along with the goddess in the thakurdalan. Goddess Basanti is worshipped here in the form of Hara-Gouri. I was told by a family member that Basanti puja started roughly three centuries back during the time of Ramakanta Kundu Chowdhury. Later after a little over three decades Durga Puja started here.
The protima is built in this dalan and that too following a tradition. A day after Shiv Chaturdashi, there is a Kali puja, more specifically a Raksha Kali puja is held every year. A harisabha is held at Andul Mourigram bazaar after nine days from Raksha Kali puja. The bamboo which is to be used in the kathamo or structure is first cut over there and that marks the beginning of kathamo puja of Goddess Basanti.
As a lemon is sacrificed in Durga puja likewise a water melon during Basanti puja. Vegetarian food is dedicated to the deities. Atap chal (heat rice) in the form of naibidya is given to the goddess. At night sital or cold bhog in the form of luchi and sweets are offered to Goddess Basanti. I was told by a family member that there is also one boat puja which is held on the night of Nabami and later in the morning of Dasami it was again taken to its old place. Earlier the immersion used to take place on the banks of river Saraswati and, at that time the river was navigable.
How to go there?
The house can be reached both by road and rail route. Take any train going to Andul from Howrah station (South-Eastern Railway) and get down at Maurigram. A ten minute ride in a toto will take you to the house of Kundu Chowdhury.
Else, one can board the bus going to Andul from Rabindra Sadan stoppage crossing Vidyasagar Setu (Second Hooghly Bridge) and get down at the last stoppage. From there take a toto and reach there. The bus ride is more or less about half-an-hour.
Date of posting: 29th March, 2023.