Durga Puja of “Bonedi Families” at Howrah

 

Youngest family member of Ghosh family , Salkia

Youngest family member of Ghosh family at Salkia taking a look at the proceedings

After my blog post  “Durga Puja of “Bonedi Families” at  Kolkata”  became immensely popular among viewers, many have asked me to start writing blog posts on such bonedi families of West Bengal outside Kolkata. Members of many such families have also e-mailed me their details and asked me to visit their places.

Since no one is sponsoring my travel for writing such blog posts, I decided to start with Howrah. Howrah is nearer to Kolkata than many other districts. At Howrah, many age-old Durga Puja gets celebrated in the residence of many bonedi families. In this blog-post, I will start with describing Pujas of few such families residing at Shibpur, Andul, Salkia and Panchla. This list will increase with the passing of time.

Although the places mentioned here are well-connected with proper mode of transportation, one can take a driving tour to visit these sectors during Durga Puja. Say one can drive to Andul and visit the Pujas there and then move on to Shibpur if time and energy permits.

Although the financial condition is not affluent as it was in earlier days (mainly because after independence the Zamindari system was abolished), yet these families still go on performing Durga Puja with dedication maintaining all the rituals. The Pujas are all of 100+ years, some even 200+ and 300+ years old. All family members gather to celebrate Durga Puja with pomp and show as an annual get-together. From a 6-year-old kid to an 80-year veteran all participates in this family endeavor year after year.

I hope the viewers will like it as much as my earlier blog post on Bonedi Baris.

“BONEDI BARIR DURGA PUJA OF HOWRAH” – THE LIST

 ANDUL
Distance:  15.3 km via Andul Road from Rabindra Sadan 

1. DUTTA CHAUDHURY FAMILY DURGA PUJA

Address :
Chaudhury Para Lane, Off Andul Road, Andul, Howrah, West Bengal – 711302

Click Here for Direction Map

( Direction:  Take any bus from Rabindra Sadan to Andul.  Get down on Andul Bazar Bus stop. Walk for about 300 metres, until you get Andul Byam Samitee on your left. Take the lane beside it which is Chaudhury Para Lane. This will lead you to the Durga dalan of Dutta Chowdhury.  The lane is quite narrow. Alternatively, as a better option, you can drive further, cross Kishori Oil Mill on the left and take the next narrow lane which leads to Blue Bell Nursing home. Park your car here. If you are driving an SUV, park it on the main road beside Kishori Oil Mill. Just opposite to the nursing home is a pond. Take the path beside the pond and then turn right. A serpentine lane will take you to the Thakur Dalan. )

Dutta Chowdhury Family Members at their Thakur Dalan during Durga Puja

Dutta Chowdhury Family Members conversing at their Thakur Dalan

As per information received from the present descendants of the family, Andul Dutta Chaudhury Family are the descendants of Shri Purushottam Dutta. He was one among the 5 kshatriyas who was sent to Bengal along with 5 brahmins to re-establish Vedic control in Bengal. They were sent in response to the invitation from King Hemanta Sen of Bengal to the then King Adisur of Kannauj (UP). At that time, Bengal was under Sen Dynasty, that started in 1095 AD. After arriving in Bengal, Purushottam Dutta settled down at Ballygram located on the bank of the Bhagirathi river. Eventually, the family earned the name of Bally Dutta Bari. Purushottam‘s great-grandson, Tekri Dutta moved from Ballygram to Andul (Howrah). He was bestowed with the surname Chaudhury by the then ruler of Delhi. Tekri Dutta established Andul Dutta Chaudhury clan. This family afterward became the first Zamindar family of Andul.

This Andul Dutta Chaudhury family had got connections with many other bonedi baris of Kolkata. Sova Bazar Raj Bari was the son-in-law house for this Dutta Chaudhury Bari.

At a later stage, Andul Dutta Chaudhury family broke up. This was due to some internal controversy between three brothers, namely Gobindasharan Dutta Chaudhury, Ramsharan Dutta Chaudhury and Harisharan Dutta Chaudhury.

Shri Ramsharan Dutta Chaudhury stayed back at their house at Andul. Later Ramsharan‘s 4th son Shri Kashiswar Dutta Chaudhury constructedDurga Dalan‘ and started Durga Puja in the year of 1609 at Chaudhury Para of Andul. This was even before Sabarna Roy Chowdhury family started Durga Puja. In 2015, the family completed 407th Year in Durga Puja celebration. The Original Durga Dalan collapsed around the year 1929 AD. The present Durga Dalan was constructed within one year of the unfortunate incident.

Among the interesting rituals observed by the family, one is satru bali (killing the enemy). Here a human figure made with powdered rice is placed in the hollow of a banana tree trunk and sacrificed.  Among the main offerings to the deity are sweets like Khaja and Agamonda. Agamonda is made of coconut and kheer and is ultimately  decorated with mewa and sugar candy.

 2.  KUNDU CHAUDHURY FAMILY  DURGA PUJA

Address :
P.C. Roy Road, Near Raksha Kali Mandir,  Mohiari, Andul, Howrah, West Bengal – 711302

Click Here for Direction Map

( Direction:  Take any bus from Rabindra Sadan to Andul. Get down after reaching Andul Bazar Bus stop. On your opposite side will be the Andul Super Shopping Mall. Cross it and enter the next lane beside it which will fall on your right. In the case of having difficulty in locating the lane, ask locals as to which way is Mohiari. Walk straight through the serpentine line which is the Mohar Tai Pukur Road. After few steps, you will cross a fusion architecture building on your right which is the Mohiari Kundu Chowdhury Institution. Go further straight for another 200 metres to hit straight the Raksha Kali Mandir. Take a right from here to get into the P.C. Roy Road. A walk of hardly two minutes brings you straight to the huge mansion of Kundu Chowdhury family. The exterior of the building is of pink colour. )

The huge mansion with Durgadalan of Kundu Chowdhury family

The huge mansion with Durgadalan of Kundu Chowdhury family

The family of Kundu Chowdhury is one of the few Bonedi family who organizes Durga puja twice a year, once during Basanti puja in the month of Chaitra and again during Akal Bodon in Aswhin. Though the ancestor of the family Kushai Ram alias Kushai Dev settled at Mohiari as early as on 1745, it was only in 1816 that the most famous descendant of the family Ramkanta Kundu Chowdhury built up the present palatial residence of the family along with adjacent two Shiva temple. The date on the foundation stone of one of the temples reveals the year of establishment. The family’s origin was actually from Tamluk at Medinipur.

Ramkanta had built up a monopoly in salt importing business of salt from Cheshire at England. He was involved in riverside trading as the presently non-existent Saraswati River was in full flow at that time and a large number of  people came using the waterway. It was due to the fact that male members of the family returned late from the voyage that the custom of twin Puja started from late 18th century.  Women performed Basanti Puja when men were on their way back home and Durga Puja in autumn when they returned safely. It is interesting to note that till date during Durga Puja there is a ritual of “Nouka Puja” where a boat is being worshiped too.

The goddess is worshipped along with Shiva as Hara-Gouri. The family has faith in Vaisnav culture and “Laxmi Janardan” is their family deity for daily worship. Apart from Durga Puja, Rash festival is also celebrated with pomp and show every year. The expenses of the Puja are met from the ‘Mohiary Kundu Chowdhury Sri Lakshmi Janardhan Jew Estate’. Although the members have vegetarian food during the Puja, they are allowed to eat fish on Dashami after the idol is being brought down from the thakur dalan. No cooked food is offered to the deity. There is no “Sindur Khela” in the family. The ladies only put little vermilion on each other’s forehead after they have completed thakur baran rituals on Dashami.

3.  ANDUL RAJBARI  DURGA PUJA

Address:  JhorehatAndul-Mouri, Howrah, West Bengal – 711302

Click Here for Direction Map

( Direction:  Take any bus from Rabindra Sadan to Andul.  Get down on reaching Andul Bazar Bus stop opposite to Andul Super Shopping Mall.  On the side you descent there will be a narrow lane through a crowded marketplace. Walk straight through this road bypassing a pond on your right.  The huge but run down Andul Rajbari falls on your left. If you have any idea of visiting the interiors of Rajbari on the pretext of Durga Puja, forget the idea. The Durga Puja is celebrated inside the premises a building  beside the Rajbari inside a  hastily painted and rather new looking Thakurdalan)

The Thakurdalan for celebrating Durga Puja is outside the premises of Andul Rajbari

The Thakurdalan for celebrating Durga Puja is outside the premises of Andul Rajbari

The founder of Andul Raj family Diwan Ram Chandra Roy served under Lord Clive. It is understood that under Lord Clive’s instance, The Mughal Emporer bestowed the title of Raja to Ram Chandra’s son Ram Lochan Roy in 1765 along with a command of 4000 troops. Durga Puja of this family was started in  1770 by Ramlochan Roy of Andul on request of Lord Clive aiming to shift public sentiment from the defeat of Siraj-ud-Doula in the Battle of Plassey. The family had a unique style of immersion. The deity was carried to the nearby Saraswati River and a cannon was fired to cause the impact for her immersion.

The colossal mansion of Anandadham or Andul Rajbari was built by Rajnarayan Roy of Andul Raj family in 1835. There is beautiful courtyard studded with beautiful pillars inside the mansion. However at present Durga Puja is not celebrated inside the mansion, but inside a thakurdalan on separate premises besides the Andul Rajbari.  The Zamindari  had  long  got transferred to Mitra family from the Roy when the last descendant of Roy family died without any heir. Thus, the title got shifted  to the daughter’s side which resulted in Mitra family being the new Zamindars of Andul Raj.

Durga Puja had stopped in this family for over 150 years, due to a tragedy in the family. It has recently being revived by the family members and Puja is being performed for a period of 6 years at present. Though the ancient rituals have been long forgotten, the family adheres to timings and rituals of Ramakrishna Mission.
 

 SHIBPUR
Distance:  7 km via Vidyasagar Setu from Rabindra Sadan 

4. ROYCHOWDHURY FAMILY DURGA PUJA

Address :
46 A/11 Shibpur road, Shibpur,  Howrah – 700102

Click Here for Direction Map

( Direction:  Take any bus from RabindraSadan to Shibpur Mandirtala Bus Stop.  Hire a Toto and ask For Sanjher Atachala.  Alternately if you are going to do it yourself, take right from Mandirtala Bus stop and go straight through serpentine the Shibpur Road for around 150 meters or so when you will get a pond on your left.  Go for another 150 meters until you get a lane on your left.  At the end of that lane is a pink colored nondescript house which is the residence of the Roychowdhury family. The Sanjher Aatchala is in the interior of that house.)

Sanjher Aatchala of Roychowdhury Family, Shibpur

Sanjher Aatchala of Roychowdhury Family, Shibpur

One of the oldest Durga Puja of Howrah is that of the Roychowdhury Zamindar family. Durga Puja is being conducted here since 1685 in their Aatchala Durgadalan which was initiated by their ancestor Raja Rambramha Roychowdhury.  The Aatchala is known as “Sanjher Aatchala”.

The family deity is Batai Chandi, (an avatar of Goddess Kali). The idol is over 500 years old which is regularly worshipped in a nearby temple. Batai Chandi is one of the most regarded Goddess in Shibpur area. During Durga Puja, the crown of Byatai Chandi is transferred to the forehead of Goddess Durga. It stays there during The Durga Puja and is replaced on their way back to the family deity after immersing the Durga idol on Bijoya Dasami.

Originally The Roychowdhury family did not worship Goddess Durga. However, Raja Rambramha Roychowdhury had a dream whence he was instructed by the Goddess that she was also a part of their family deity and needs to be worshipped as well. Chandi is considered to be a part of Durga.

The most interesting thing about the Roychowdhury family is that they have a “Bel Ghar” inside the house beside the thakurdalan, where a huge Bel tree stands guarded inside a room.  The tree stands on a pedestal on a cemented floor. The ceiling has an outlet through which the tree spread its branches around.

Another very interesting thing about the idol is that it is a Tin chala Thakur like that of Hathkhola Dutta Bari and similar household, but the lion is not horse faced like the other tin chala idols.

Boli or animal sacrifice is still prevalent in this family. On each of the  days of Saptami, Ashtami and Nabami “Pantha Boli” (Goat Sacrifice) takes place here.


5. B.K. PAUL’S FAMILY DURGA PUJA

Address :
38 Naba Gopal Mukherjee Lane,  Shibpur, Howrah – 700102

Click Here for Direction Map

( Direction:  Take any bus from Rabindra Sadan to Shibpur Mandirtala Bus Stop.  Hire a Toto and ask for B.K. Paul’s House. Alternately if you are going to do it yourself, take right from Mandirtala Bus stop and go straight through serpentine the Shibpur Road for around 150 meters or so when you will get a pond on your left.  Go for another 300 meters and enter the second lane on your left. This is Dharmatala Lane.  The third lane on right side of Dharmatala Lane is Naba Gopal Mukherjee Lane. The crudely white painted  gate of B.k. Paul’s residence falls on the left side. There is a shortcut to reach Dharmatala Lane from Sanjher Aatchala as well)

Abhaya Durga of B.K.Paul's Residence

Abhaya Durga of B.K.Paul’s Residence

The well-known pharmacist B.K. Paul (BataKrishna Paul) had his original residence at Howrah. In his ancestral home, Durga Puja is still being celebrated. The family members were not sure about the period they have been celebrating Durga Puja, but it was nothing less than 300 years. The Durga Idol is placed inside a small “Chandni” (flat roofed temple). The idol is a large Abhaya Durga Idol. In Abhaya Murti, Durga has only two hands, without any Demon Asurs but with only lion/lions.

Boli or animal sacrifice is still prevalent in this family. On  Nabami “Mahish Boli” (Buffalo Sacrifice) takes place here.


6.  BHATTACHARYA FAMILY ‘S DURGA PUJA

 Address :
171 Shibpur road, Shibpur,  Howrah – 700102

Click Here for Direction Map

( Direction:  Take any bus from RabindraSadan to Shibpur Mandirtala Bus Stop.  Hire a Toto and ask for B.K. Paul’s House. Alternately if you are going to do it yourself, take right from Mandirtala Bus stop and go straight through serpentine the Shibpur Road for around 150 meters or so when you will get a pond on your left.  Go for another 300 meters and enter the second lane on your left. This is Dharmatala Lane.  The third lane on right side of Dharmatala Lane is Naba Gopal Mukherjee Lane. The crudely white painted  gate of B.k. Paul’s residence falls on the left side)

Bhattacharya Family Durga Idol

Bhattacharya Family Durga Idol

The family has its origin at Kannauj. The Goddess is Tin Chala Thakur, but the chalas are not the usual style. There is no painting of stories from Purana on the chalchitra, but only floral designs. The idol resides inside a flat roofed Thakur dalan. Entrance to the premises is through an artisan’s workshop or a Mini Kumortuli. As per the opinion of household members, the Puja is more than 300 years. Another uniqueness of the idol is that Navapatrika is placed beside Kartick instead of Ganesh. This is because the Goddess is considered here “Ishani” (to be placed at Ishan Kone, that is North East direction).

There is a ritual of “Boli” (sacrifice) in this house. However, like other two houses of Shibpur, no animal sacrifice takes place here. Instead, sugarcane and pumpkin are being sacrificed. During immersion, the idol is carried over bamboo poles by people instead of being taken by transport.


SALKIA
Distance:  5 – 7 km via Strand Road from Esplanade Bus Terminus

7.  GHOSH FAMILY ‘S DURGA PUJA

Address :
1 Khirode Chandra Ghosh Road (Watkins Lane), Howrah – 711101

Click Here for Direction Map

(Direction:  Take any bus from Howrah Station going to Salkia. Get down at A.C. Market on Dobson Road and walk a bit to reach a lane on the left. This is  Khirode Chandra Ghosh Road alias Watkins Lane. The house is just at the entrance of the lane. It is easy to spot it as it is the only vintage mansion in the area congested with huge multi-storied mansions. If you are driving, cross  Howrah bridge and instead of going towards Howrah station drive straight  to reach Dobson Road. Take a right turn and drive straight to reach A.C. Market. )

 

Female Members of Ghosh family sitting on family Durga dalan on occasion of Durga Puja

Female Members of Ghosh family sitting on family Durga dalan on occasion of Durga Puja

As per information obtained from the present generation,  Durga Puja started in this family way back in 1801 by the ancestor of the family Madhab Chandra Ghosh at the tender age of 14 at the present residence of the Ghosh family. The roots of Madhab Chandra Ghosh could be traced to a Royal family at  Kakdari village of Medinipur. As per present descendants, the royal family had amassed so much of wealth, that they had filled huge canals with a lot of  paddies chaffs to make way for Nawab Siraj-ud-daulah’s army attacking British soldiers.  It is said that the Nawab was so impressed with the Ghosh family’s effort, that he vested the title of “Rajapalmal” to the family. Due to various reasons, Madhab Chandra Ghosh left his ancestral house  only at the age of 6  along with her mother. He reached Howrah and started reestablishing his Zamindari there. The Puja is at present organized by the fourth generation of the family.

The family deity is Radha Madabh who is worshiped daily. Madhab Chandra’s son Khirode Chandra Ghosh started this practice. Durga Puja is celebrated in the same Thakurdalan where Radha Madhab is worshiped. The Chalchitra of the Goddess  showcases scenario from Bishnu Puran and Chandi Puran. Unlike most of the deities of traditional houses, the Goddess and the family is a replica of life like individuals. Among the rituals worth mentioning fact is that Chandi-Path and Geeta-Path starts one week before the Durga Puja. Kumari Puja is done on Nabami along with Dhuno porano Rituals.

During Durga Puja different social functions takes place in the courtyard of the house involving family members and other artists. Members of Iscon performed in 2015. Baul song and different folk songs are also being performed here Durga Puja.

 8.  BANDOPADHYAY FAMILY ‘S DURGA PUJA (SALIKHA HOUSE)

Address :
Salikha House, 187/1  Shree Ram Dhang Road, Salkia, Howrah – 711101

Click Here for Direction Map

 (Direction:  If you visit Ghosh family first during your visit to Salkia, take another bus from G.T. Road which is going to Bandhaghat or Belur. If it is going to Bandhaghat only, get down at Bandhaghat stop and  walk straight for about 400 mts to reach Shree Ram Dhang Road on your left. Another brisk walk  of 300 mts on Shree Ram Dhang Road will take you to Salikha house on your left.  Alternatively, if you get a bus to Belur, get down at Babudanga bus stop just after crossing Salkia Chowrasta (a four-point crossing). Cross the G.T. Road and get into Shree Ram Dhang road on the opposite side. Salikha house is about 600 metres from the Babudanga bus stop. There is also ferry service from Ahiritola to Bandhaghat.

If you are driving, it will be better to drive from Ghosh family’s house through Khirode Chandra Ghosh Road alias Watkins Lane to reach G.T. Road. Take a right turn and drive until you reach Salkia Chowrasta. After going about 300 mts from the crossing, you will reach  Shree Ram Dhang Road on your right)

Bandopadhyay Family's Thakur Dalan

Bandopadhyay Family’s Thakur Dalan on Panchami

Standing at the gates of Salikha house one would suddenly be reminded of the fact that Salkia’s original name was Salikha. I don’t know that apart from the Bandopadhyay residence, anywhere in Salkia its old name is publicly displayed. The family is celebrating Durga puja way back from 1774 when the first known ancestor Radha Mohan Bandopadhyay started the annual ritual of worshiping the Goddess. The family prospered during the tenure of Radha Mohan’s son Rasik Krishna Bandopdhyay. It seems like folklore now, but there was a time when Salkia Bazar was owned by the family. They had a garden under their name known as a Banerjee Bagan. There still exists a Banerjee Ghat, where the Durga idol of the family is immersed on Dashami. There still exists a  Bhairav temple along with other temples belonging to the family located adjacent to the mansion.

Presently the Durga Puja is being conducted under the guidance of present scion of the family Susmit Bandopdahyay.  Noted Bengali lyricist, songwriter and music composer Pulak Bandopadhyay was his uncle, who resided in this very house.

Just like the Ghosh family, the idol of the Goddess and her family are a replica of life like individuals. The Bandopadhyay family has witnessed Mosh Boli ( Buffalo Sacrifice) in the yesteryear. but now only Chalkumro is sacrificed. Dhuno Porano rituals are observed here on Ashtami. The bhog cooked for the Goddess on Dashami is actually of the earlier day( Basi Bhog) which consists of Panta bhat,  Masur dal with chalta (Elephant apple), Chanchi Kumro (Pumpkin) , Lau alias Lauki (bottle gourd) , Pui Shak (Malabar Spinach) chachori and Lyata mach pora (Smoked Lyata Fish). Panta bhat is a rice dish made from soaking leftover rice in water overnight. It is usually served in the morning with salt, onion and chili.

9.  ATA FAMILY ‘S DURGA PUJA

Address :
Ata House, 142/8/1,  Shib Gopal Banerjee Lane, Salkia, Howrah – 711101

Click Here for Direction Map

(Direction:  Shib Gopal Banerjee Lane is  perpendicular to Shree Ram Dhang Road. The direction to reach Shree Ram Dhang Road is given in Bandopadhyay family’s Durga Puja details (No. 8). The lane is almost opposite to Salikha House – residence of Bandopadhyay family. If you are walking with Salikha house on your left,  Shib Gopal Banerjee Lane falls on your right. A brisk walk about 200 metres takes you to the nondescript Ata house on your right. A big Victorian mansion is situated just before it which every first-time visitor misidentifies as the Ata House  )

Young member of the family at Thakurdalan of Ata family. The green coloured pillars are made of cast Iron remnant of the family business in the past

A young member of the family at Thakurdalan of Ata family. The green coloured pillars are made of cast Iron remnant of the family business in the past

Durga Puja started in the Ata family by their ancestor Nafar Chandra Ata about 200 years ago. The family had a business of iron casting.  The foundry industry of Howrah which was once known as Sheffield of India is now in a sorry state. Ata family was once a prominent part of this industry and had accumulated immense wealth from the business. Now only the two cast iron pillars on its Thakurdalan reminds of the good old days. The idol is traditional ekchala with Daker Saaj.

PANCHLA
Distance: 30 km via Strand Road from Rabindra Sadan

10.  DURGA PUJA OF DAS FAMILY AT BELKULAI

Address :
Das Residence, Belkulai Village, Near Domjur – Bauria Road, Howrah, Panchla, West Bengal – 711322

Click Here for Direction Map

(Direction:  Panchla More is almost 7 km from Dhulagori Toll Plaza on NH 6.  From Rabindra Sadan Buses going towards Bagnan, Digha, Uluberia, Gadiara, Mecheda stops at Panchla. Alternatively, there are many buses available to Panchla from Esplanade bus terminus.  79 no bus from Dunlop  also goes directly to Panchla. From Panchla hire a  cycle rickshaw to reach the Das Residence at Belkulai village through a bumpy road which is around 2.4 km from Panchla more. For a up-down visit and waiting for 2 hours,  a rickshaw ride will cost Rs 150. Auto rickshaws are also available but they cost more. Alternatively, you can reach Bauria station (3.2 km) by local train and hire a conveyance to reach Das residence.

If you want to drive to the village, cross second Hooghly bridge and drive through Kona Expressway and NH 6 via  Santragachi, Alampur, Dhulagarh and Ranihati to reach Panchla More. From Panchla-More take left where you will see a signboard which says “Bauria  Station – 4 km “.  This is the Bauria -Domjur Road. Drive through it bypassing “Country Roads” resort on your left and Basudevpur KNPC School on you right.  After crossing the school ask people for the whereabouts of “Kethopul”.  It is an area around 1 km from the school. From Kethopul, there is a sharp turn on the left. Drive through this to reach first the huge white building of Belkulai C.K.A.C. Vidyapith High school. Take the narrow bumpy road  on the right of the school besides a pond to reach the palatial Das mansion on your right.  )

Durga Puja at Belkulai Das residence literally has the whole village attending the Puja

Durga Puja at Belkulai Das residence literally has the whole village attending the Puja

As one enters through the narrow village road of Belkulai village from the place called Kethopul on the Domjur Bauria highway, the first surprise the visitor gets is encountering an immense white mansion of Islamic style. This exquisite work of architecture looks like a palace from Rajasthan.  However, this is no palace but a higher secondary school named Belkulai Chandra Kumar Adhar Chandra Vidyapith (H.S.). Once this was a part of Zamindari of the Das family. They are old settlers of the area. Present descendant of the family Sourav Das informed that the artisans who build Nakhoda Masjid designed this mansion.

The Das mansion which is a stone throw from the school is no less a palace. The stucco work outside the mansion and on the Thakurdalan are of finest quality. The family follows Vaisnav rituals and has the family deity Narayan residing in a temple adjacent to the mansion. Durga Puja is celebrated in this house not for long as compared to other families of Howrah. However the major attraction of this household Puja is the fact that literally whole of Belkulai village especially womenfolk gather here during Durgapuja as there are no other Bonedi Barir Puja in the vicinity. The atmosphere takes you back to film sets of Tarun Majumdar depicting utopian village as you look at the rural crowd praying in unison with an immense devotion which sadly lacks in the city.

A senior lady of the house Kadambini Devi had dreamt of the Goddess way back in 1934.  As mention earlier the family members were  Vaishnavites and thus only was involved in festivals involving Lord Krishna. But on the insistence of Kadambini Devi her two sons Chandra Kumar and Adhar Chandra started Durga puja in the same year from Mahalaya. The puja started in the same thakurdalan where Narayan was also worshipped on various occasion.

Bodhon takes place on Sasthi under a Bel tree near the house inside a covered enclosure. During Bodhon, the family deity Narayan is also brought to this enclosure. There are certain unique rituals followed here during Bodhon.  A sliver kunke (rice grain measuring container) filled with paddy grains, smeared with vermillion on its top and wrapped in a silk cloth is decked up as a symbol of Dhanyalakshmi ( A part of Goddess Lakshmi). The symbolic Dhanyalakshmi is placed beside the Durga idol in the thakurdalan. This follows the family deity Narayan being carried by the Purohit accompanied by seven married women. All these persons encircle the Durga idol seven times before placing the family deity besides Dhanyalakshmi.

The family indulges in no sacrifice. Even No fruits are sacrificed. Navapatrika rituals involve bathing of the Navapatrika in the nearby pond followed by another bathing ceremony with water from 108 waterbodies in the courtyard in front of the Thakurdalan. Sandhi Puja is done on Navami which involves lighting 108 earthen lamps on banana leaves.  Many woman folk from the village takes part in lighting the earthen lamps.

References 

1. Howrah District Gazetteers by O’Malley, 1909
2.  A Brief History of the Andul Raj by Babu Kissory Mohan Gangopadhyay, 1900
3.  ‘Tradition, a way of life’ by Dalia Mukherjee,  The Telegraph – Howrah,   September 19, 2014

Special Thanks

1.  Dalia Mukherjee for providing contact details of some of the Bonedi Baris at Howrah
2.  Shrabanti Brishti Mitra for providing leads and locations of some of the houses at Howrah
3.  Sagar Sen, Kanad Sanyal, Debdutta HaldarTirthankar Sarkar and Aritra Biswas for accompanying me in house hunting
4. Members of Bonedi Families for taking time in narrating family history and allowing me to take photos in their house premises.

 

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30 thoughts on “Durga Puja of “Bonedi Families” at Howrah

  1. sayanti biswas says:

    Realy outstanding collections we got to know about bonedi bari durga puja in your blog. Thanks a load to mr amitabha Gupta for sharing such historitical stories of some bonedi bari. Eagarly waiting for next one.

  2. DHRUBA DUTTA CHAUDHURY says:

    :: Durga Shri Hari ::

    This site is actually a very convenient one in compare to others. Main thing about this blog are the directions are so proper that one can easily visit these places without even asking to any road side people, as we have done this year while visiting some of the ‘Bonedi Bari’s of North Calcutta and the information about the houses are very authentic, highlighted the main points rather than needless or futile extension. I like the way Mr.Gupta has illustrated about the Durga Puja of my family and all others.

    My family can understand the hard work behind such a devoted work.It is a work out of passion which is beyond any profession-ism. Here in this context, I like to end-up my comment over here by re-calling one of Prof.(Dr.) Albert Einstein’s quote, where he once said, ” Every thing which is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labour in freedom.” This statement goes exactly with the work of Amitabha Gupta.

    Regards.
    on behalf of my DUTTA CHAUDHURY Family Members.

  3. Nandan Dutta Chaudhury says:

    The Bonedi Baris in Howrah often get neglected because many fellow Bengalis are smitten with Kolkata, I appreciate your herculean task of searching most of the bonedi baris of Kolkata and Howrah and posting them in your well acclaimed blog.

  4. Abhishek Ghosh says:

    Khub sundor kore
    Poripati kore lekha apnar ei blog ta.
    Apnar sob lekha e bhalo lage.

    Howrah r ei chena sohor er ochena ei purono bari gulo k je bhabe apni apnar lekha o camera r maddhom e amader samne tule dhorechen..

    Onek ei hoyto janen e naa..aapnar ei blog e pore mone hobe arey e toh amader parar bari ta. Kintu atodin ojante chilo tader.

    Thank you,
    Apni apni apnar mulloban somoy amader k diyechen.

    Abhishek Ghosh
    From
    HOWRAH GHOSH BARI

  5. MOLOY DAS says:

    Thanks for the information about the Bonedi barir pujo at Howrah. It is very helpful for us like your write-up about Kolkata. This year we have visited so many Bonedi Barir pujo at Kolkata. Your write up is really compassionate. Next year definitely we will visit Howrah along with your information.
    Hats of you.. for your passion-energy and effort which is pulling me towards some nostalgic moments.
    Keep it up dada.
    Moloy Das, Kolkata

  6. MOLOY DAS says:

    Thanks for the information about the Bonedi barir pujo at Howrah. It is very helpful for us like your writeup about Kolkata. This year we have visited so many Bonedi Barir pujo at Kolkata. Your write up is really compassionate. Next year definitely we will visit Howrah along with your information.
    Hats of you.. for your passion-energy and effort which is pulling me towards some nostalgic moments.
    Keep it up dada.
    Moloy Das, Kolkata

    • AMITABHA GUPTA says:

      Mr. Singhal , Thanks for your suggestion. But I am not interested in getting this published in print. Several newspapers have covered these houses, so no point repeating the act.

      This Blogpost (and the earlier one on Bonedi Baris of Kolkata) was written by me to help the mass as a whole to locate the houses as well gain the knowledge about their history. Plus the compilation helps people to locate all the pujas at one go.

      Newspapers reports and TV Coverage never mentions the address or location of the house, they only give description of the Puja.

  7. Pratyusha Ghosh says:

    Thanks a lo Amitabha da.. I stay in Howrah but got to know a lot from your blog. My husband conducts Puja Parikrama every year in Kolkata.. But after reading your blog we are thinking of taking people to Bonedi Baris of Howrah… I think Bonedi families would appreciate it.. We want others to know about these places and it’s history too.. All are interested in Kolkata Bonedi families but very few know about Howrah… Thanks for sharing all the informations with us to all Bonedi families as well as Amitabha da..

    • AMITABHA GUPTA says:

      Good to know that you found my blog interesting. Yes, if tour operators also takes people to Durga Puja of Howrah and other districts of West Bengal.. It will be good promotions of these Puja.

      • Dhruba Dutta Chaudhury says:

        Pratyusha Ghosh,

        Thank You for your interest in exploring the ‘Bonedi’ families of Howrah district of the state. Amitabha da had already done it up so nicely that hope you will not face any problem.

        My Dutta Chaudhury family was the first zamindar of Andul, as mentioned by Amitabha da and also according to the book- “Howrah District Gazetteers by O’Malley 1909”, on page no.150, where it is mentioned on my ancestor, Tekari Dutta. Then came the zamindar Kundu Chaudhury family and next the Kar Roy family, who are the Andul Raj family (Andul Raj Bari). Amitabha da has arranged it accordingly, which I liked very much.

        My ancestor Tekari Dutta was designated as zamindars by then nawab of Bengal, Ghiasuddin Azam Shah and establish as DUTTA CHAUDHURY FAMILY. Infact, Babu Kedar Nath Kundu and Babu Hiraman Kundu are Tekari Dutta’s descendants.So, the Kundu family have inherited some of Tekari’s real estate & wealth,and they became money-lenders & businessmen who attained the dignity of zamindars. It is said that they were designated as zamindars by Lord Clive himself. A lot of Kashiswar Dutta Chaudhury’s real estate & wealth got channelized to build up the fortunes of the KAR ROY family of Andul. This Kar Roys are the Andul Raj Family.

        So if you plan to visit the houses of Howrah this year, then I, on be-half of my family would like to invite you to come and visit our Durga puja, listed 1st on this page. In this year, it will be 407th year (1609-2016), probably first in Howrah-Kolkata district.

        For more detail history on our family, I am giving some useful links-

        Our official Facebook Page- http://www.facebook.com/DuttaChaudhuryChroniclesOfficial
        Our official website- http://www.duttachaudhurichronicles.com

        Wikipedia article- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andul_Dutta_Chaudhury_Family

        List of some notable ancestors of my family (on Page No.4)- drive.google.com/file/d/0B73V76n-xz5zRjJyWWJmdFVZMUU/view

        NB: The well-known HATKHOLA DUTTA FAMILY of Kolkata is our 2nd off-shoot. They are the part of Gabindasharan Dutta Chaudhury, the name which Amitabha da has mentioned. But later this part of our family has discarded the tittle ‘Chaudhury’.

        Regards,

        Dhruba Dutta Chaudhury
        Andul, Howrah.

  8. Aishwarya Raychowdhury says:

    Thank you Mr. Amitava Gupta to make a culture on this subject.I am the second smallest member of the second last generation of ROY CHOWDHURY family.it is really a proud full moment for me.

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