Heritage Durga Pujas
The 'barowari' or community Durga Pujas, conducted by several clubs and associations have evolved into mega affairs with fantastically crafted grand pandals, dazzling light displays and magnificent idols fashioned by celebrated clay artists. The theme of pandal and idols change every year and the latest themes become the talk of the town.
In parallel to this glitz and pomp, the other kind of pujas that happen are the pujas privately conducted by several families, mostly those that had an affluent past and enjoyed positions of social, economic and sometimes political prominence in the yesteryears, specially during the Colonial regime. Although their financial affluence might not have remained the same, these families, (or 'Bonedi Bari's in colloquial Bengali) still carry out their legacy of ancestral puja rituals with the same devotion and dedication, often following the same traditional familial practices. These centuries-old pujas, mostly conducted in the ancestral mansions, with their aura of bygone splendours, are a delight to visit.
Shobhabazar Raj Barir puja
Raja Nabakrishna Deb was the patron of this Durga Puja as his attempt to commemorate the victory in the battle of Plassey by Lord Clive. This Durga Puja started in the year 1757 and completed its 250 years in 2006. The procedure of the rituals and ceremonies follow the scriptures of the "Brihadnandikeshwar Puran" and the rites have remained unchanged since the beginning of this Puja. A curious feature of the idol is that the Lion, the archetypical carrier of Devi Durga resembles more a horse than a lion. All the effigies are built of 'Sola Pith' work on a single frame, a style popularly known as "daker Saj". The Shovabazar Rajbati organizes two different pujas at two different addresses; one being held at the house of Gopi Mohan Deb and the other, at the ancestral house of Rajkrishna Dev. An extremely popular cultural extravaganza is an intrinsic part of this puja, and holds a special attraction for the visitors.
Khelat Ghosh Bari
An important heritage puja in Kolkata is Ghosh Barir pujo at Pathuriaghata started by an Khelat Chandra Ghosh, an erstwhile dignitary. This has been celebrated for about 170 years, maintaining the age-old traditions. The Thakurdalan or courtyard of Khelat Chandra Ghosh's House is one of the largest such structure in Kolkata. Apart from having an 85 feet long marble corridor, the premises showcase a grand dancing hall that has now been converted into Khelat Ghosh Memorial Hall.
Chatubabu Latubabu Family's Durga Puja
Ram Dulal Dey (Deb Sarkar), an extremely affluent Bengali entrepreneur, started organising this Durga Puja from the year 1770 at his Beadon Street residence. After his demise, the Puja was carried on by his sons Asuthosh Dey (Deb Sarkar) and Pramatha Nath Dey (Deb Sarkar), more commonly known as ‘Chatu babu and Latu babu’. The highlight of the idol is the presence of Jaya and Bijaya, the two companions of Parvati, who reside on both sides of Durga poised on lotuses.
Rani Rashmoni Family's Durga Puja
The eldest daughter of Rani Rashmoni, Padmamoni Dasi and her husband Raj Chandra Das were the patron and main organizers of this Durga Puja. Around 1780, this Puja was started in the Jaan bazar area of central Kolkata. There was yet another person who can be credited as the founder of this Puja, Priti Ram Das. This Puja was privileged to be sanctified by the great saint Ramakrishna Param Hansa in 1864 and he performed this Puja in special "Sakhibesh" attire. Famous personalities like Vidyasagar, Rammohan, Swamiji and Netaji visited this house. Some unique qualities has lent a special touch to this Puja- the image is exquisitely coloured with a white face and red-gold body, and the "Bhog" is cooked with Ganga water. "Kumari Puja" (worship of teenage virgin girl) is performed here for three days (Saptami, Ashtami and Navami). "Bodhan" starts traditionally on Pratipad". Devi is installed in the Mandap after the "Kalparambha" on Saptami. Right from "Pratipad" fifteen clay images of Shiva are built, one per day and those images are immersed on the day of immersion. This house has been declared as a heritage house and has been included in the conducted tour of WBTDC.
Chandra Family's Durga Puja
Bharat Chandra, the family head of the Chandras, came to Calcutta from the village of Nadia in the year 1781 to avoid "Borgi Invasion". The original house of the Chandra's was extended from time to time by Ganesh Chandra. After the marriage of his only daughter, he started the Durga Puja in its present form. Goddess Durga is wonderfully decorated with "Daker Saj" and is placed before the "Ekchala" (single arched backdrop) frame but her children are submerged separately during immersion. This "Thakur dalan" or courtyard was designed by the renowned architect Srish Chandra Chattapadhyay of British regime, who had set a plaque depicting "Vishnur Ananta Shajya" on the top of the dalan and placed statues of elephants at the base. The house has been declared as a heritage house.
Thanthania Dutta Barir Puja
Started in 1855 by Dawaraka Nath Dutta, The Duttas of Thanthania worship “Hara Gouri” idol alias “Shiva Durga”. The Puja is celebrated with great pomp and show till date. Among many rituals observed in this house “Dhuno porano” is the star attraction as a number of married women in unison hold burning Malsas (clay pots for burning incense) on their palms and heads and pray for the peace and well being of their family members.
Sabarna Roychowdhury Family's Aatchala Puja
Celebrated since 1610 at their ancestral home at Barisha, this is perhaps the oldest family Durga Puja or it might even be the first organized Durga Puja of Bengal. The family performs eight pujas by its different branches, the main being the 'Aatchala'. Out of these eight pujas, six are at Barisha, the seventh is at Birati while the eighth at Nimta.
Baidyanath (De) Mallick Family's Singhabahini Durga Puja
About 400 years old, this Durga Puja is perhaps one of the most professionally managed large scale Bonedi Barir Durga puja. The idol worshiped here is of a 'Ashtadhatu Singhabahini' (Lion Rider, a form of Durga, made of an amalgamation of eight metals) which has an interesting history. Around 1614, Baidyanath De Mallick acquired this idol from a cave at Chandranath Hill of Chattagram ( Now at Bangladesh), where Singhabahini was being worshiped secretly. By instruction through Divine intervention in his dream, Baidyanath De Mallick brought the idol back to his home at Saptagram of West Bengal.
The puja of this idol alternatively takes places at Jatindra Mohan Avenue house or at the Kashinath Mullick Thakurbari at Mahatma Gandhi Road.
Baghbazaar Haldarbari Durga Puja
The Durga Puja of Haldarbari started more than 450 years ago. Unlike many other traditional houses the deity is a Mahisashurmardini idol made of 'Kasthipathar' (Touchstone). Members of Haldar family informs that one of their ancestors was a Zaminder of Nawpara at Chandannagar. He had a divine intervention about this idol, when he went for a leisure trip to a place named Sahebpur alias Rahanpur at Balasore, Odisha. The idol was discovered after digging around 14 feet through the floor of a Muslim Fisherman’s house. The year of discovery is supposed to be 1560.
This exquisite idol is of two feet in height and weighs around 25 to 30 kg. As an art form this idol is unparalleled. The deity is bejewelled with several ornaments. She has ten arms holding a variety of weapons. Her right footrest on the back of a lion and the left foot is on the demon Mahishashura. Just above the Goddess is a statue of 'Mahakal' (shiva). On each side of her forehead, there are two angels. On the lower side of Goddess, there are two small statues of women holding weapons. These looks like Jaya and Bijoya, although traditionally they do not brandish arms. The entire idol rests on a lotus.
After being worshipped in various places, the present residing place of the idol for last 200 years in the Haldar residence at Baghbazar. It may be mentioned here that the idol is worshipped here on daily basis. The Goddess is faming to be 'Jagrata' and fulfils wishes of every devotee who prays to her with devotion. Among the rituals the Nabapatrika rituals and Sandhi Puja are one of its kinds. Presently Durga Puja of Haldar family is being carried out with great devotion under the guidance of present descendant Debasis Haldar.
Behala Roy Family's Durga Puja
Started by Ray Bahadur Ambika Charan Roy on 1756, Behala Ray Barir Pujo is being celebrated now at the palatial residence “Amarendra Bhaban” of his third son Amarendra Roy's Family. Ambika Charan Roy had amassed enough wealth to be set aside solely for the purpose of conducting the Durga Puja over the years. Other than Durga Puja, Jagadhatri Puja is also celebrated here.
Behala Jagat Ram Mukherjee's Family Puja
Jagat Ram Mukherji originally hailed from Barrackpur. He had a second marriage in the Haldar family and settled in Behala in 1740. He had one daughter and four sons from this marriage. Once his daughter along with his nephews went to visit the Durga Puja of his maternal uncle's house – the Haldar family. She was not properly attended there and so being insulted she returned back home and asked his father Jagat Ram Mukherji to conduct Durga Puja at his home. It was Navami, the penultimate day of Durga Puja, so instead of worshiping an idol, symbolic 'Ghot Puja' was done.
From next year till 1867 Clay idol of Goddess Durga was worshiped in this house. In 1868, Jyotinath Mukherjee - great grandson of Jagat Ram made Durga idol of Gold, which is being worshiped till date.
Rani Rashmoni Family's Durga Pujas
Founder of the Dakshineswar Kali Temple and a pillar of strength in the male dominated society, Rani Rashmoni started Durga Puja at her S.N. Banerjee Road residence. After her death in in 1861, his sons-in-law and daughters continued Durga Puja celebrations in their respective premises. In the S.N. Banerjee Road house the festival is celebrated by two families while at Rani Rashmoni Road house, puja is celebrated by one family.
Durga Puja held at 13 Rani Rashmoni Road is the one originally initiated by Rani Rashmoni herself. Thakur Ramakrishna Paramahansa has worshiped here too. The entry to this Puja is through the Free School Street. The Hazra family are in charge of this Durga Puja. This was originally the Kacharibari (courthouse) of Rani Rashmoni.
In the same building the second Durga puja of this family can be visited from the entrance on S.N. Banerjee Road itself. This is 18/3 S.N. Banerjee Road premises Durga Puja, held by the Chowdhury family. It is interesting to note that one Building has different street addresses.
On the other side of the Road at 18 Rani Rashmoni Road stands the huge Rani Rashmoni Bhawan. This Puja is conducted by the Biswas family.
Jorasanko Dawn House
A successful businessman, Gokul Chandra Dawn of Satgachia came to reside at Jorasanko. Here he adopted Shibkrishna Dutta, his relatives son as his own. On this occasion, Gokul Chandra Dawn celebrated Durga Puja in 1840. From then the tradition has been carried on by Shibkrishna Dawn and later his descendants till date. The Thakurdalan or the courtyard is huge and has been the shooting venue of many a films.
Balaram Dey Street Dutta Barir Puja
This Puja was initiated in 1882 by Shyamal Dhon Dutta, a Solicitor of High Court with roots in Hath Khola Dutta Bari. The Puja is presently carried by 6th descendent of the family. The house is known for following many ancient rituals including carrying idols on bamboos like old days, instead of the modern custom of taking them on truck. Sandhi Puja and 'Baran' on Dashami of this house is a delight to watch.
Baishnabdas Mallick Family's Durga Puja
The Durga Puja of Baishnab Das Mallick's house is 235 years old. The Puja was started by Baishnab Das Mallick, a wealthy gold merchant, after he saw the Goddess in his dream. The huge Mallick Residence has a large courtyard.
An interesting fact about the Durga Idol is that there is no Lakhsmi and Saraswati idols here, but two Jaya and Bijoya idols which are not only taller than Kartick and Ganesh idols, but taller than the Durga Idol too. Goddess Durga is seated here on the lap of Shiva. The 'Chal Chitra' of the idol features scenarios from Vishnu Puran and Chandi Puran. 'Dhuno Porano' Rituals are observed in this house by several women, although it remains mainly a private affair. In this ritual married woman hold burning 'Malsa’s' on their palms and heads, praying for the prosperity of their children as well as families. Normally Business Class Bonedi families observe this ritual. The Idol is carried on the shoulder of 20 men during immersion instead of carrying it in a vehicle.
Hatkhola Dutta Barir Puja
Hatkhola Dutta House was constructed by Dewan Jagataram Dutta in the late eighteenth century. His Grandfather Ramchandra Datta was employed in East India Comapany’s export import division in Patna warehouse. A very conservative family who stayed away from the usual frivolities of wasting money, they have been carrying their Durga puja since last 200 years.
Darjiparar Mitra Bari
The palatial building of Mitras came into existence during the times of Durgacharan Mitra who had several business including being court jeweller of Nawab Siraj -ud -Daulah. His Nephew Nilmani Mitra continued the legacy. Later the family’s condition declined, but Nilmani Mitra’s grandson Radhakrishna bought back fortune in the family. It was Radhakrishna who started Durga Puja in 1807. This used to be one of the three top Banedi Pujas of Kolkata along with Jorasnako Dawn Bari and Sova bazar Rajbari. The rituals are interesting and very meticulously followed.
Bholanath Dutt Family's Durga Puja
In this heritage Puja, the idol of Durga is sitting on Shiva's Lap with no weapons or Vahana and no Mahishashur around. This is a legendary idol visualized by one of legendary Merchants of history Dhanapati Saudagar. Bholanath Dutt started this Shiva Durga Puja idol in 1905 at Bholanath Ashram of Varansai. His sons continued the Puja till 1913 after Bholanath’s death and then eventually shifted it to Sovabazar at Calcutta and finally to the residence at Beadon Street.
Maniktala Saha Family's Durga Puja
The Maniktala Saha Family was originally salt merchants and had a huge Zamindari throughout Kolkata. The family originated from Allahabad. Durga Puja of this family is around 150 years.
The white coloured huge house is located just at the junction of Vivekananda Road and Maniktala Street. It has a huge 'Thakurdalan' inside.
Girish Ghosh's Family Durgapuja
The Durga Puja of Ghosh family was started in 1856 by Girish Chandra Ghosh. The family is believed to have hailed originally from Paranchapur, a village in Hooghly district. Durga Puja was originally celebrated there as recorded in the temple of residing deity – Shri Madhusudan. All the necessary item for Puja was transferred from Baghbazar ghat of Kolkata by boat to Mogra and then by boat to the village.
One major difference of the Puja rituals of Ghosh Family with other Bonedi Bari Rituals is that instead of Sandhi Puja, Kalyani Puja is celebrated at the household to seek the blessings of the Goddess- a tradition that was started by the family patriarch Girish Chandra Ghose, when his Guru expired during Sandhipuja.
Mahendra Sreemany Family's Durga Puja
The Durga Puja of Mahendra Sreemany family is of about 100 years. Mahendra Sreemany was a wealthy zaminder who settled in Kolkata in the late 19th century. The idol is traditional with gorgeous “Daker Saaj”.
Harinath Mookerjee Family's Durgapuja, Rajabazar
As per the present descendant of the family Indranil Mookerjee, this Bonedi Barir Puja of Kolkata is around 300 years old. Indranil mentioned that Durga Puja started in 1722 when one of the descendants of family – Harinath Mookerjee shifted to Kolkata (then Calcutta) from his ancestral Zamindar house at Gondol para of Chandannagar along with his mother. The family history says that Harinath Mookerjee brought with him a metal 'ghot' (pot to store water). This was found by his grandfather while ploughing a field. After recovering the ghot, Harinath’s Grandfather had a dream where he had divine instruction to worship Goddess Mangal Chandi every day.
Harinath Mookerjee acquired two houses at Rajabazar area which was actually a washerman's den. He established Devi Mangal Chandi as the family deity in this house. Under divine instruction, Harinath started Durga Puja in this house. He started business of Jute as a supplier with East India Company which was successful to a great extent. He became a landlord (Zamindar) and built up the present mansion along with Thakurdalan and huge decorative interiors.
The Thakurdalan is not enormous but very interesting. At its entrance there is a unique design of stucco painted in multicolor with figures and floral motifs. On each side of the Thakuradalan there is a figure (one male and female) which looks surprisingly of African descendant. They look representing slaves as there is indication of having chains tied to their legs. Most probably the statues were of 'Habshi', slaves in pre-British India.
Nilmani Sen Family's Durga Puja
This puja was started by Kanailal Sen, grandson of gold merchant Nilmoni Sen. Nilmoni Sen's house Worship Abhaya Durga. In this form, Devi Durga has three eyes but only with two hands instead of 10. One hand is in Abhaya mudra and the other is in 'Varada Mudra'.
Shambhu Nath Sen's House Durga puja
The Durga Puja of Shambu Nath Sen ages over 100 years.
Pataladnga Basu Mallick Family Durga Puja
The Durga Puja of Basu Mallick family ages back to 1831, when founder of Basu Mallick clan, Radhanath Mallick (who later took the title of Basu Mallick) begin to worship Goddess Durga in the premises of 18 Radhanath Mallick Lane. One of The Grandson of Radhanath – Kshetra Chandra Basu Mallick, started Durga puja at 22 Radhanath Mallick Lane. The Thakurdalan has a cast iron frame with glass behind it.
The oldest house of the Basu Mallick clan is the one at 18 Radhanath Mallick Lane. There are several Statues of Mercury in the courtyard, which were once used to hold gas lamps. The Thakurdalan has stucco floral decoration over its arches. Above the arches there is a row of stucco figures depicting Dasavatar of Vishnu. In 1905, Rabindranath Tagore had visited this house and appealed to students so that they leave government educational institutions.
Patuatola Bandopadhyay Family's Durga Puja
Durga Puja of Banerjee Bari at Patuatola Lane started in the year 1890. The stalwart of this family was Late Beni Madhob Banerjee who was incidentally the first Indian attorney. With Mr. Henry Owen, Banerjee was a partner in the firm Owen and Banerjee. Late Beni Madhob Banerjee was attorney for renowned families like those of Rani Rashmoni and Chatubabu & Latubabu. This talented gentleman died at the ripe age of 32 leaving behind huge property for his wife and two infant sons. Bhog of the Goddess is prepared by the womenfolk of Banerjee household. All rituals including Navapatrika and Sandhipuja involve a large number of household members. In earlier days there used to music conference which involved musicians like Raichand Boral, Badal Khan, Girija Shankar Chakraborty and Bhismadev Chattapadhyay. The music conference still takes place during Durga Puja maintaining the age old tradition.
Laha Family Durga Puja
Durgapuja of Laha Family near Thanthania is 200 years plus old. The first generation of Laha family Madhu Mangal Laha run a business at Saptagram. Durga Puja of Laha Bari was started by Late Bhagibati Charan Laha. The Puja flourished during the time of Late Prankrishna Laha, who had developed a huge profitable business.
The Puja is held alternatively at Bidhan Sarani House of Kristodas Laha or at the Muktaram Babu Street of Ramcharan Laha or at Kailash Street House of Joygobinda Laha or at house of Parbaticharan Laha at Bechu Chatterjee Street. Here the Durga Idol is unique like the Duttas of Beadon street. Durga is seen on the lap of Shiva with no arms, no Vahana and without any Asur demon. This is known as "Hara Gouri" or "Shib Durga" Idol.
Jhamapukur Chandra Bari Durga Puja
The Durga Puja Of Subal Chand Chandra started in 1761. As per information obtained from the family, Subal Chand Chandra was one of the earliest business entrepreneurs of Kolkata. He was into Textile business and even had business units at Manchester, U.K. The Durga Puja was earlier held at Jorasanko residence, but from 1870 it was shifted to the Jhamapukur residence.
Chorbagan Chatterjee Bari
The most unique aspect of Chorbagan Chatterjee Bari Durga Puja is that from Saptami to Dashami fish is offered to Devi as bhog. The Durga Puja carried in their ancestral house is over 150 years old which was initiated by Ram Chatterjee who was a Stevedore by profession.
Chorbagan Mitra Bari
Both the house and the Durga Puja of Chorbagan Mitra Bari are of 300 plus years old. The Magnificent building looked grand in its hay-days with its huge pillars, but now is a crumbling situation. The house was built by Ramsundar Mitra who was a money lender by profession. He event lent money on interest to Lord Clive. Durga Puja is held alternatively in the Thakurdalan on the Muktram Babu Street or in the dalan on the other part of the house, whose entrance is through the super narrow Mitra lane adjacent to the house.
Chorbagan Seal Bari
Khetramoni Debi, wife of successful businessman and exporter took the initiative to start Durga Puja in the Seal family, 158 years ago. There is a plaque at the house to this effect. Seal family follows Vaishnavism and are strictly vegetarian.
Badan Chandra Roy's House
The 150 years Durga puja was started by Late Badan Chandra Roy in his palatial three storied house at Kolootola opposite to Medical College Hospital. The Thakurdalan is quite large here too. The lights on the courtyard gives a beautiful glow in the night.
Purna Chandra Dhar's House
Origianting from Halisahar, Purnchandra Dhar was a salt merchant by profession. Durga Puja in the family is almost 150 years old. Here the durga idol is 'Abhaya Murti'. In Abhaya Murti, Durga has only two hands, without any demon Asurs but with two lions. It may be mentioned that Thakur Ramakrishna Dev visited this house.
Motilal Seal's House
Apart from being an extreme wealthy businessman who earned plenty from various kind of business, Motilal Seal is famous for his philanthropy and social activity. He was a strong supporter of widow marriage and even paid Rs 20,000 to first gentleman who married a widow. His next generation has continued to good work, Durga puja of this family is over 150 years old.
Kundu Bari Durga Puja
Widely used Gupta Press Panjika a.k.a 'Paanji' (Hindu astronomical almanac) came into existence on the Bengali Year 1276 (English: 1879). As per the Kundu family members their Durga Puja started from that very year by their ancestors Krishna Das Kundu and initiated by his wife Rajomani Dasi. Rajomoni had seen Durga Puja celebrated every year at her house before she got married. So she naturally wanted to have Durga Puja celebrated at her in laws residence too. Her wish was fulfilled by her husband.
Krishna Das’s sons Durlabh Chandra Kundu and Sudhir Chandra Kundu carried on Durga Puja. Their pet name was Buddhu and Suddhu. Hence the Puja was known by their name as Puja of Buddhu and Suddhu (similar to Latu Babu Chatu Babu Durga Puja). These two gentlemen were famous for their "Tarja songs" too. The Thakurdalan looks deserted and is piled up with cardboard boxes during the year, but Durga Puja it undergoes a radical change. The uniqueness of this Dalan is that it has beautiful stucco work on it. 'Dhuno Porano' ritual takes places on Astami at Kundu Family.
Amrita Lal Dawn House
The Durga dalan and house have been recently renovated. There are glass paintings inside the 'thakur dalan' and Mina work over the entrance door. The Dawn family is not interested in getting media attention, so they get very pleasantly surprised when you take an effort to locate their family Puja and will offer you to have Prasad and welcome you to their Puja. Among many rituals, they perform "Dhuno Porano" on Astami. The family worship Naryan as Salgramshila. Interestingly the Salgramshila stone was even attired with a Dhoti!
The Durga Puja of the Dawn Family is of over 120 years started by Amrita Lal Dawn who was into dealership of Petrol and Diesel. This Gandhabanik caste family has its root at from Kotulpur of Bankura.
The primary puja of the family is that of Goddess Jagadhatri. The family also performs Kali Puja.
Adhar Lal Sen's Family Durga Puja
Adhar Lal Sen was one of the early devotees of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. Durga Puja in his residence at 97 Beniatola lane was started by his father Ram Gopal Sen in the year 1861. Ramakrishna came to this house both in 1883 & 1884 during the Puja. Adhar Lal Sen died very early even before reaching the age of 30. Today the Puja has been divided into two houses like many other families. The Choto Taraf Puja takes place in 97A, while the Baro Taraf Puja takes place at 97B which is the original residence of Adhar Lal Sen. The name plaque of the house says "Adharalya" and a plaque on its wall says in Bengali "Shree Ramakrishna Padankinto Bhakta Adharlal Sen er Bari"(House of disciple Adhar Lal Sen visited by Shree Ramakrishna). In this Puja, the household members and the priest eats Vegetarian food till Nabami. It is only on Dasami they have fish preparations.
Kabiraj Gangaprasad Sen Family's Durga Puja
Durga puja at reputed physician Kabiraj Gangaprasad Sen is of 169 years. He had Ramakrishna Paramhansa as his regular patient. The Kabiraj earned enough money to initiate Durga puja in his premises with enough grandeur. He even constituted a trust to carry on the puja in future generations. The idol is 'ak chala', and interestingly Kartick is on the left side below Lakshmi and Ganesh is on the right side below Saraswati.
Bhawanipur Mallick Family Durga Puja
Durga puja of Mallick Family dates back to 15th Century. The founder of Mallick family, Radha Gobinda Mallick settled in Bhowanipur in 1860. His place of origin was the village of Srikhanda, from where they shifted to Guptipara. From 1925, Durga Puja shifted from native village to Kolkata. Puja rituals are performed at Mallick residence at two locations, namely "Annapurna Dalan" and "Durga Dalan". Mallick Family are Vaisnavas and prepare vegetarian food from Sasthi to Nabami. After immersion in Dasami, they prepare Non Veg food. No rice is offered to the goddess, but preparation of wheat is done. Popular Bengali film star Ranjit Mallick and her daughter – successful actress Koel Mallick belongs to this family.
Bhawanipur Mitra Family Durga Puja
At The Mitra residence at Bhowanipore, the Durga Puja originate back to 1757. The Durga idol appears to be 'Dwibhuja'(two handed) at first sight but actually has two natural hands and the rest of the eight hands are short and on the shoulders. After the idol is dressed up, one cannot see the rest of the eight small hands. Laxmi and Saraswati have no Vahan and are seen on the lotus. The lion's head has a close resemblance to a horse and is painted white with moustache in black.
Bhawanipur De Family Durga Puja
The Durga puja of the De Family started in the year 1870. There is an interesting story about this puja. One day Late Ramlal De of the family found a mother with her two daughters & two sons were waiting in front of the main door of the house. On enquiring about their purpose of visit , the family did not answer the question. Instead, the mother with her sons & daughters entered into the house. After that, part no trace was found of the family, as if they vanished into thin air. Later one night Ramlal De had a dream of Goddess Durga asking him to worship her in the family. From then Durga Puja was celebrated every year in the family.
The Durga idol of De Family is one of a kind. The most interesting idol is the demon Mahishasur, who symbolises the British Empire as it wears a decorative long coat and a pair of boots. The hair and moustache of the demon is painted golden like an Englishman. The De Family Members have no idea as to what was the reason of such an attire of the demon. However, since many Hindu reformists identified Goddess Durga as a symbol of India, she became an icon for the Indian Independence movement. As a result, Goddess Durga may have been displayed as the slayer of British Empire as she kills the Demon. Ganesh and Kartick wears 'dhoti' and 'chaddar' made of cotton. Lakshmi and Saraswati do not come with their Vahanas but instead stands on lotus flowers.
The family members cannot remember any freedom fighters born in the family. So it remains a point of interest as to what inspired the family to dress the Mahishasur demon in this fashion, when in contrast the Deb family of Shovabazar invited Lord Clive to their Durga Puja in 1757.
Kali Mohan Ghosh Ray Family's Blue Durga
The origin of this Durga Puja probably dates to 1829 at Narrottampur Of Barishal District, which now is at Bangaldesh. The Puja was transferred to Pratapaditya Place at Kolkata in 1947 and finally to its present location in 1977. The reason that Goddess Durga is painted in blue because of a 'swapnadesh' ( Divine instruction in dream) given to Saradamayi Ghosh Ray wife of zamindar Kali Mohan Ghosh Ray. The summary of swapnadesh was to worship Goddess Durga in the form of Goddess Kali. Since then the face of Goddess is painted in blue.
Chandra Family's Durga Puja
The Chandra Family hailed from Khisma village of Nadia district. The first family member to settle at Kolkata was Bharat Chandra in 1781. The Durga Puja started in 1877 by Ganesh Chandra (Ganesh Chandra Avenue is named after him) after building up the immense Thakurdalan. The Thakurdalan was designed by renowned architect, Srish Chandra Chattapadhyay. The Chandras are both Vaishnavas and Shaktas. Late Pratap Chandra Chunder union minister of India hails from this family.
Biswanath Motilal's Family Durga Puja
One of the oldest aristocratic families of Calcutta is that of Biswanath Motilal, who had his roots at Joynagar. It is believed that the Bowbazar Area was allocated to his daughter-in-law as a gift, hence the name Bow Bazar (Bow/ Bou Bengali means wife). This puja, without any extravagance dates over 300 years. Among the house being a place of historical place (Outside the house a worn out name plate says "Here lived Babu Bisso Nath Motilal Born: 1779, Died: 1844"), there is an interesting shaped brass multi oil lamp, which burns from Saptami onwards.
Nilmani Dey Thakurbari Durga Puja
This 116 year old Puja of Nilmani Dey Thakurbari has interesting history. Nilmoni Dey was an ordinary clerk who stayed at his maternal uncle’s house after his father's death. Later, he left his job and started his own business. After being well settled and raising up a family, it is said that instructed by divine intervention through a dream, Nilmoni Dey was instructed to built up a Laksmi Jagganath Temple. There was a wood storage shed just adjacent to his house. He bought the land and built up A Lakshmi Narayan temple in 1896. Later he built up Kashthi Pathar (touchstone) Durga idol and worshipped it. A trust is there at present to run the expenses of the temple. The worship is being carried in the Vaishnavaite style. Many other Pujas are also held here.
Akrur Dutta's Durga Puja
Born in 1720 in Sonatikri village in Hooghly district, Akrur Dutta visited Calcutta in 1740 and started doing business with Pritiram Marh, the father-in-law of Rani Rashmoni. From this business Akrur Dutta become enviably rich. Durga puja began in the late 18th century in the Thakurdalan of his house at 1 Rajen Datta Lane, which is now invisible from the road as because a flat has risen in front of it at 18/4 Akrur Datta Lane. In Colonial era, there used to be a hideout tunnel under the thakurdalan which opened on to Wellington-square.
Ramgopal Saha's House Durga Puja
The Durga Puja of Saha family is over 175 years old. Initiated by Ramgopal Saha – A wine and Liquor merchant, Saha family residence has a wonderful Thakurdalan which once impressed Ace Lensman Raghu Rai. However, at present, photographers get restricted entry to this house. Any uninvited person with a camera is a strict no-no in this house during Sandhipuja.
Sisir Kumar Halder House Durga Puja
More than 200 years old Haldar Family Durgapuja has a permanent Durga Idol made of Gold. The Thakurdalan has a unique shape with Stained Glass decorations.
Nilmani Dutta Thakurbari Durgapuja
Not be confused with Nilmoni Dey Thakurbari's Durga Puja at Hidaram Banerjee Lane. This humble family Durga Puja is held in a Thakurdalan of Single Arch. This 110 years old Durga Puja was started by Nilmoni Dutta 110 years ago. The family also celebrates Jagadhatri Puja.
Deb Burman Family Raj Rajeshwari Durga Puja
As per information provided by the Sandipan Deb Burman of the present generation of the family, this Durga Puja started in 1860 in the Kummilla district of Bangladesh. It shifted to Tripura and finally it shifted to the present address at Italgacha for the past 12 years.
The house has been renovated into a modern mansion, but the star attraction of this Durga Puja is the idol itself. The colour of the idol is a combination of Deep Red and Maroon, which is described as Tapta Kanchan (heated-up gold) Colour. Devi Lakshmi is 10 handed Goddess worshiped as Mahalakshmi and similarly Devi Saraswati is 8 Handed Goddess. Kartik is placed beside Lakshmi and Ganesh is placed beside Saraswati. On Asthami, The Goddess is adorned with a Silver Munda Mala (Skull Garland) and a mala made out of lemons. During Sandhi Puja the Puja is performed on a separate Chamunda Idol. The Puja is mainly attended by household members in homely atmosphere.