Millennium Post

Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellers

Kolkata: Away from the glitter of big- budget community Durga Pujas, those organised by erstwhile zamindar (landlord) families in the city over the past few centuries continue to be a hit among revellers.

The 410-year old Atchala Bari Durga Puja of the Sabarna Roy Chowdhury family in Barisha area in the southern part of the city was started by Lakshmikanta Roy Chowdhury and his wife Bhagawati in 1608.

"We don't have grand marquee, theme or illumination.

Our USP is the history which cannot be replicated elsewhere," Shubhadip Roy Chowdhury, a member of the family, told PTI.

Roy Chowdhury said as per tradition, other pujas of the area begin the procession for the immersion of their idols -- which is on Tuesday -- only after that of the Roy Chowdhury family.

The idols of the erstwhile zamindar family are traditionally crafted in "Motchouri" style which gives them a golden complexion.

Roy Chowdhury, who is researching household pujas in the city, said seven more Durga Pujas were started by members of his extended family since the original one in 1608.

Ramen Banik, a young executive visiting the puja with his family, said, "We are bored with the repetitive themes and abhor the long queues. You get to see originality in Durga Puja in the century-old ones in the city."

Roy Chowdhury said visitors to their puja are increasing every year.

Some 20 km from Barisha, the 229-year-old household puja at Shobhabazar Choto Rajbari (smaller palace) in north Kolkata also draws crowds from across the city.

It was started by Raja Naba Krishna Deb in 1790 in the palace built for his biological son Rajkrishna.

Aloke Krishna Deb, a member of the family, said many visitors, including foreigners, show interest in the history of the puja.

Asked about threats from community pujas in the neighbourhood, Deb said even if they face financial constraints, they would try to continue with the celebration.

Opposite the Choto Rajbari, lies the Boro Rajbari (bigger palace) where the 262-year-old puja was started by Raja Naba Krishna Deb in 1757 to celebrate the victory of the East India Company over the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-Daula in the Battle of Plassey.

It continues to be celebrated with equal fervour as that of the Choto Rajbari by descendants of Raja Naba Krishna Deb's adopted son, Gopimohon Deb.

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