It is that time of the year when almost every part of our country is getting ready for the festive season. With Mahalaya to be celebrated on 25th September this year and the starting of “Debi-pokkho” states like West Bengal and Assam where Durga Puja is celebrated on a grand scale getting decked up to welcome Maa Durga in all pomp and glory. It is not just a festival but an emotion and a colourful celebration of the daughter Goddess Durga visiting her paternal home along with her four children. I consider myself really lucky to witness this grand festival in Kolkata for the past three consecutive years and maybe this year too. Along with the “Barowari” Durga Puja celebration, the Bonedi Barir Durga Puja in Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal is indeed a very unique and extravagant affair. Visiting these zamindari houses some of which are 200-300 years old, witnessing the traditional ways and the various rituals and also getting a peek inside these mansions is indeed quite thrilling.
As I have already mentioned in my previous post where I have compiled 15 such Bonedi Baris of Kolkata where Durga Puja is celebrated for many generations. Some of which are more than 250 years old. A Bonedi Bari means the ancestral house of the rich zamindar or feudal lords or aristocrats who belonged to the upper class of the society. These zamindars used to lead a very luxurious life and this is still visible in the way their family members celebrate the Durga Puja and has been keeping the traditional festival alive generation after generation without any break.
Unlike my previous post, this is not going to be an exhaustive one. Here I have covered five such Bonedi Barir Durga Puja in Kolkata. It is indeed very difficult to cover all these houses in one go. They are situated in various locations and it is indeed quite hazardous to explore all the houses.
Most of the houses can be found using Google maps. All you need to know is the family name and street name. It becomes quite easier in that way. You can make a chart area-wise and list down all the bonedi houses and start visiting one by one.
1. Durga Puja of Sovabazar Rajbari, year 2021
This is a glimpse of the Sovabazar Rajbari Durga Puja that I visited in 2021. If you read my previous post you can see that the Durga Pratima is similar to the one in the previous year. This puja was started by Raja Nabakrishna Deb at Sovabazar Boro Rajbari in 1757 after the Battle of Plassey and was visited by British officials like Warren Hastings and Lord Robert Clive. Durga Puja is held at both Boro Rajbari and Choto Rajbari (located on the opposite sides of the same street).
How to reach- The house is located at 33, Raja Naba Krishna Street, Sovabazar, Kolkata- 700005. The nearest metro station is Sovabazar Sutanuti.
2. Durga Puja of Rani Rashmoni, the year 2021
This was the first time I visited all three houses where various family members of Rani Rashmoni celebrate Durga Puja. The main Durga Puja was started by Rani Rashmoni the founder of Dakshineswar Kali Temple and there are two other pujas one celebrated by the family members of Rani Rashmoni’s sons-in-law and daughters. When I visited Puja hasn’t begun and the family members were busy with the last-minute decorations.
How to reach- The three mansions are at Janbazar, 18 Rani Rashmoni Road, 18 Rani Rashmoni Road and 18/3 S.N Banerjee Road. The nearest metro station is Esplanade. You need to just walk straight through the street by Tribes India Showroom in Esplanade.
3. Durga Puja at Pataldanga Basu Mallick Family of Kolkata
This Durga Puja dates back to 1831. Radhanath Mallick who was the founding member of this Basu Mallick clan began celebrating Durga Puja on the premises of 18 Radhanath Mallick Lane. There are in fact two Durga Puja celebrated on different premises. The Durga Puja at 22 Radhanath Mallick Lane was started by Radhanath’s grandson Kshetra Chandra Basu Mallick.
The thakurdalan is indeed very unique with cast iron frames and I noticed a lot of beautifully carved statues everywhere. In the 22 Radhanath Mallick Lane House, I also noticed the idol of Lord Shiva placed behind the main Durga Pratima. This is something new and I haven’t noticed elsewhere.
I wish I could know the story behind this. There were many photo frames in the thakurdalan which may be of the old family members and relatives.Also I noticed that in place of the Lion at 18 Radhanath Mallick Lane House there is ana animal that looked like a horse.
How to reach: Both the houses are situated nearby College Street. Radhanath Mallick Lane 22 is at Surya Sen street. You can use GPS to locate the exact street with the street names. Nearby metro station is Mahatma Gandhi Metro Station.
4. Durga Puja of Patuatola Bandhopadhyay Family
The Durga Puja of the Banerjee family was started in 1890 by the Late Binod Behari Bandopadhya, the youngest son of the Late Beni Madhav Bandopadhya. Beni Madhav was an attorney by profession and served as the attorney of many affluent families of Kolkata like Rani Rashmoni, Latu Babu, Chatu Babu etc. He was also India’s first Bengali attorney. When we visited the house we saw some young girls of the family busy decorating the floor in front of the thakurdalan with colourful alpona. The family also used to organise musical conferences during the days of Durga Puja. But now these are done on a much smaller scale.
How to reach- This house can be visited in a row with the Radhanath Basu Mallick bari as both are located within walking distance. It is located in Durga Bari, 8 Patuatola Lane near College Square, Kolkata 700009. The beautiful two-storied yellow colour house is at the end of Patuatola Lane.
5. Durga Puja of Madan Mohan Dhar family
This family started Durga Puja from 1884 onwards. It is quite striking to note that here Maa Durga is worshipped as “Abhaya Durga” where the idol has only two hands. There is no Mahisasur but there are two lions and the four children of Maa Durga. There is no animal sacrifice and the rituals are based on Baisnab rites. The old family got divided into two parts one started living in Halisahar and the other in Calcutta. The puja here is done by the family members from Halisahar. There is no “anna bhog” that is rice offered to Goddess Durga.
How to reach- This house is again very close to College Street. It is situated in 61-Patuatola Lane, Kolkata-700009
So, you can easily visit all the three above-mentioned houses in a serial manner as all these are at a walkable distance and GPS can be used for easy navigation.
6. Durga Puja of Badan Chandra Rai family
I was amazed to see the beautiful three-storied mansion and the Thakurdalan that belonged to Late Badan Chandra Rai who started this Durga Puja some 150 years ago. The beautiful lights and statues placed in the centre of the main compound add to the charm and beauty of this house.
How to reach- It is located at 2A, Gopal Chandra Lane, Colootola, North Kolkata.
Also Read – Durga Puja in Kolkata- Famous Puja Pandals,2019
I consider myself to be really lucky to witness this Durga Puja which has been celebrated for centuries. The dedication and belief with which the current generations have been keeping this tradition alive maintaining the heritage are indeed commendable.
Even the Barowari or Community Durga Pujas in Kolkata are so grand and celebrated on such a massive scale that cannot be described in words unless experienced with own eyes. Besides that these Bonedi Baris add a different dimension to the celebration. It also shows the rich cultural heritage, tradition and belief that Bengal possessed and also tries its best to keep it alive for generations to come.
In the past two years, I have visited something about 20 such Bonedi Barir Durga Puja in Kolkata. This is not even half of what Kolkata has, there are a lot more to visit in the coming years. If Maa Durga blesses me I shall consider myself really lucky to visit more such Durga Puja in Kolkata and other districts of West Bengal.
DO READ THE PREVIOUS POST – A VISIT TO BONEDI BARIR DURGA PUJA IN KOLKATA