Bonedi Barir Durga Puja in Kolkata – Updated in 2020 with Maps

by Aug 21, 2018City Guides, Festivals, India Festivals, Kolkata, West Bengal

It is said that this is the greatest festival of the Bengalis. Bengalis have a different way of celebrating the Durga Puja. It is not just a festival to worship the Goddess; Durga Puja is a carnival. It is the time for family, friends and reunions. And the best part of Durga Puja can be felt days before. It is the season of looking longingly towards the clear blue skies of autumn. It is the time where the first glimpse of the white ‘kashful’ (Saccharum spontaneum is the scientific name) brings immense joy to our hearts. Last year, instead of the regular pandal hopping, we visited the private homes of the aristocrats of Kolkata, the original hosts of Goddess Durga, who have been celebrating Durga Puja since the long lost era. The traditional household Pujas of Kolkata are also known as Bonedi Barir Puja in Bengali. The Bonedi Barir Durga Puja in Kolkata is not just a remembrance of the past; it is an emotion for the family members. And it is a must be a part of your Kolkata Puja Parikrama!

The earlier sheen might have been lost with time, but these grand old mansions get charged up during the days of Devi Paksha. Some of these families have celebrated Durga Puja even before Calcutta city came into existence with the customs and rituals being passed down from generations. From rituals to close family bonding, we witnessed the celebration of the Goddess in the Bonedi Bari of Kolkata. And that, my friend, was an experience to cherish.

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Contents

List of Bonedi Bari Durga Pujo in Kolkata

Kumari Puja at Bholanath Dham Kolkata - Bonedi Barir Durga Puja in Kolkata

Bonedi Barir Durga Puja in Behala & Khidderpore Area

  1. Sabarna Roy Chowdhury Aatchala Durga

Sabarna Roy Chowdhury Bonedi Barir Durga Puja

Address: 26, Sabarna Para Road, Kolkata – 700008, Barisha

Since this is said to be the oldest family Durga Puja in the city, we just had to visit it. The Roy Chowdhury’s were the owner of Gobiandapur, Sutanuti and Kalikata, the three villages that the East India Company had acquired from them in 1698. These three villages later became the Calcutta city, which we call Kolkata today. The family has branched out since and the extended families have started their own Pujas. Currently, there are eight families celebrating Durga Puja, the main one being the Aatchala Puja.

Sabarna Roychowdhury Durga Puja Behala

The Aatchala Durga Puja was started by Lakshmikanta Majumder in 1610. The Majumders received the title of Roy Chowdhury in 1626 from the Mughal Durbar under the recommendation of Raja Man Singh. The 370 years old Durga Puja in the city is thus older than the city itself. The red pillars that flank the way to the Thakur Dalan (the courtyard where the Puja takes place) are the witness to a remarkable event. The Roy Chowdhury and Job Charnock had discussed the transfer of Sutanuti, Gobindapur and Kalikata at this place.

  1. Behala Jagat Ram Mukherjee Durga Puja

Behala Jagat Ram Mukherjee Sonar Durga Puja

Address: 56 Bramho Samaj Road, Behala, Kolkata – 700034 (Near Behala Tram Depot). You can ask any local about the place. Just mention the house of ‘Sonar Durga’.

This is the house with “Sonar Durga” or Golden Durga. The Mukherjee house is hidden in a narrow lane off the Diamond Harbour Street. You might almost miss the ordinary-looking exterior of the house, but once you enter the premises, you will know that the house is not just any ordinary place. It is full of stories of the past. Jagat Ram Mukherjee earlier lived at Jessore, now in Bangladesh. They had shifted to Barrackpore from Jessore and finally at Behala in 1740.

It is said that in 1769, Mukherjee’s daughter along with her brothers visited her maternal Uncle’s house during the Durga Puja. She was not properly attended there and so feeling insulted, he returned to her house on Ashtami and insisted her father to conduct Durga Puja at their house. Not only that, she also wanted to feed bhog to the entire neighbourhood. So Jagat Ram Mukherjee bowing to his daughter’s wish conducted the Durga Puja at their home on Navami, the penultimate day. But instead of worshipping an idol, the symbolic ‘Ghot Puja’ was done. As bhog, simple khichuri was served made from whatever ingredients was there at home. From the next year clay idol of Goddess Durga was worshipped in the house. Golden idol of Goddess Durga was introduced in 1869 by the grandson of Jagat Ram Mukherjee, Iswar Jadunath Mukherjee.

The Chalchitra is made of an alloy of 8 metals and has Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh and Kartik. Another interesting thing about this house is that no food is cooked on Dashami because this is the day when the daughter leaves the house for her husband’s place.

  1. Behala Roy Family Durga Puja

Address: Amarendra Bhavan, 4/1, Roy Bahadur A.C. Roy Road, Behala, Kolkata – 700034 (Near Behala Thana)

The Roy Family Durga Puja is celebrated at the grand mansion of Amarendra Bhawan. The beautiful palatial building made of pristine white marbles bears the testimony of the aristocracy of the past era as well as the present. Following the traditions of the past, the Roy family is celebrating Durga Puja and Jagaddhatri Puja every year with elan.

The great ancestor of the Roys, Gajendra Narayan Chattopadhyay was the treasurer of Saptagram treasury under Emperor Jahangir. This was sometime at the beginning of the seventeenth century. He had obtained the title of Raja and Roy Choudhury from the Emperor. Later Gajendra Narayan shifted to Halisahar and then to Madhyamgram. It is here where he started the annual worship of Durga Puja. In 1742, because of the terror of Bargi attacks, the Roy Choudhury family crossed the Maratha Ditch and relocated at Behala. The Durga Puja celebration at Behala was started by Ambika Charan Roy in 1756. Ambika Charan Roy was an illustrious member of the family and had accumulated immense wealth to continue the Durga Puja in the family over the years. The Puja is now conducted at the mansion Amarendra Bhawan built by his third son, Amarendra Roy.

  1. Bhukailash Rajbari

Address: Bhukailash Rajbari, Kanchan Colony, Babu Bazar, Khidderpore, Kolkata, West Bengal 700023

Khidderpore has its own share of well-known Durga Pujas. Bhukailash Rajbari Puja is one of the oldest and noted amongst them. Raja Jaynarayan Ghoshal was born in Gobindapore in 1752 AD and had made fortune by trading in salt, gold and other precious stones. He had shifted his kingdom from the current place of Fort William to Khidderpore over around 200 bighas of land. The Raja in 1782 had built two beautiful temples dedicated to Lord Shiva on the banks of the massive pong named Shiva Ganga. The temples have two tall Shiva Lingams known as Rakta-Kamaleshwar (about 11 ft in height) and Krishna-Chandreshwar linga (about 15 ft in height). The next year in 1782, Jaynarayan Ghoshal built another beautiful temple inside his palace and placed

Bonedi Barir Durga Puja in North Kolkata Area

  1. Sovabazar Raj Bari Durga Puja

Sovabajar Rajbari Bonedi Bari Durga Puja in Kolkata

Address: 36 and 33, Raja Nabakrishna Street, Sovabazar, Kolkata – 700005

Durga Puja at the Sovabajar Rajbari was started by Raja Naba Krishna Deb in 1757. And it was the first time when non-Hindus were allowed to see a household Durga Puja. Robert Clive had just defeated Siraj-ud-daula in the Battle of Plassey and Raja Naba Krishna Deb decided to invite Lord Clive and Warren Hastings for the Durga Puja celebrations at the Sovabazar Chhoto Rajbari.

It was said that the Goddess Durga comes to listen to music at the Sovabazar Rajbari. Musical soiree was held at night long during the Puja at the famous Nachghar (Dancing room) of the Rajbari.

The Sovabazar Rajbari had the tradition of flying Nilkantha birds on Dashami (The last day of Puja). But after this was forbidden by the Wildlife Preservation Act, they immerse clay models of the bird along with the Durga idols.

  1. Pathuriaghata Khelat Ghosh Durga Puja

Khelat Ghosh Family Durga Puja

Address: 47 Pathuriaghata Street, Kolkata – 700006

The best thing that struck us at Pathuriaghata Khelat Ghosh Durga Puja is the grand ‘thakur dalan’ (the courtyard). The marble corridor is 85 ft long and along with the grand dancing hall, the place bears the testimony to the eclectic taste of Babu Khelat Ghosh. Babu Khelat Chandra Ghosh was an eminent performer and a champion of the Indian classical music, dance and other art forms. The taste of the Babu is witnessed in the various antiques found in his palatial mansion like centuries-old Belgian cut-glass chandeliers and a Thomasson Chronometer grandfather clock (imported from London in the early 1800s). The grand dancing hall that was once a picture of opulence had been converted to Khelat Ghosh Memorial Hall.

This aristocratic Durga Puja is almost 170 years old. During the Durga Puja, the family has the ritual of offering homemade sweets to the Goddess. A unique item offered is the Chandana Kheer, a savoury milk pudding made from a century-old recipe.

On Mahasaptami morning the idol is bathed with water collected from the proverbial ‘Saat Samudra Tero Nadi’ (7 oceans and 13 rivers) and fruit juice of 12 fruits. And on Maha Ashtami, a symbolic sacrifice of sugar structures known as Mata Chini is done here.

  1. Purna Chandra Dhar Family Durga Puja

Lotus flowers offered at Durga Puja

Address: 32A, Debendra Mullick Road, North Kolkata

The idol of the Goddess is unique at Purna Chandra Dhar Family Puja. The Goddess here does not have ten hands but only two. Also, there is no demon asura, but two lions seated at her feet. Here the Goddess is worshipped as Abhaya. Purna Chandra Dhar was a cashier at the erstwhile British firm Jardine & Skinner was a successful businessman trading in salt. Originally from Halisahar, the Dhar family arrived at Kolkata in the 1850s. Purna Chandra started Durga Puja here about 157 years ago that is conducted every year barring a few years. The building was ransacked during the communal riots of 1946 and the family had to seek shelter elsewhere. The family follows the tradition of Vaishnavism and there is no animal sacrifice.

  1. Jhamapukur Chandra Family Durga Puja

Address: 24A, Bechu Chatterjee Street, Kolkata – 700009 ( Near Thanthania Kalibari)

Subal Chand Chandra, one of the rich merchants of Calcutta city had started the Durga Puja at his Jorasanko residence in 1761. Later the Puja was shifted to his Jhamapukur residence in 1870. Subal Chand Chandra was one of the earliest businessmen trading in textiles. It is said that he even had business units in Manchester in the UK. Here too, the Goddess is not in her demon slaying avatar but is sitting on the lap of Lord Shiva.

  1. Badan Chandra Roy Family Durga Puja

Address: 2A, Gopal Chandra Lane, Colootola, Kolkata – 700073

The Badan Chandra Roy Durga Puja finds its origin in the year 1857 when Mackintosh and Burn had built the palatial house. The Puja was started by Late Badan Chandra Roy who was originally Subarna Banik ‘Pals’ hailing from Ayodhya and was awarded the title of Roy. They had settled in Kolkata near the Eden Hospital Road. However, that house was razed to make way for Central Avenue and the Roys finally settled in the palatial house at Kolootola opposite to Medical College Hospital.

The thakurdalan in quite huge here with white pillars topped by decorative lamps. The Goddess here is seated on an altar under the chalchitra decorated by ‘daker saj’. Till the 1960s the minuscule figures on the chalchitra were painstakingly painted by the artist but now all are printed on sheets and pasted there.

  1. Ramgopal Saha Bari Durga Puja

Address: 4 Thakurdas Palit Lane, Kolkata – 700012

Ramgopal Saha was a famous wine and liquor merchant of those days. His palatial family residence has a very beautiful and decorated thakurdalan. The Durga puja started by Ramgopal Saha is almost more than 175 years old.

Dhuno Porano

  1. Bagbazar Haldar Bari Durga Puja

Address: 17/1, Kaliprasad Chakraborty Street, Kolkata – 700003

The Devi is different here. It is said that in the days of yore, Devi was worshipped alone as the Mother Goddess and this is how She is still worshipped in rest of India. It is only in West Bengal, that we worship the Goddess as Durga along with her family entourage.

The deity at Haldar Bari is touchstone idol of the Goddess in her Mahisasuramardini form. There are two winged-angels above the Devi on both sides and two tiny female figures at her feet. These two female figures might be that of Jaya and Bijaya, the companions of Parvati. Above the Goddess is the face of Mahakaal. The exquisite statue of the Devi Durga is really a commendable piece of art. The Goddess had also instructed the Zamindar to worship her every day, and this is done till date.

There is an interesting history behind the idol. The ancestor of the Haldar family was Zamindar of Nawpara at Chandannagar. Once on a pleasure trip to Sahebpur near Balasore in Odisha, one of them had a divine intervention about the idol. The Goddess appeared in the dream and instructed the ancestor to excavate her idol buried 14 feet deep beneath the earth inside the house of a Muslim fisherman. The family did so and found this beautiful idol of the Goddess. All these are believed to happen in the year 1560. The next 200 years of history seem to get lost in the annals of time. But the Durga Puja was being worshipped at the Bagbazar residence of the Haldar from the time of Prankrishna Haldar, who was quite an eminent Zamindar of the early 19th century known for his extravagance. He used to invite the British to his Durga Puja.

  1. Shib Krishna Daw Family Durga Puja

Shib Krishna Daw Family Durga Puja

Address: 12A Shibkrishna Dawn Lane, Kolkata – 700007

The Daw family in Jorasanko, North Kolkata still holds the beacon of celebrating the traditional Durga Puja. The aristocratic house has been the location of many film shootings. The Durga Puja was started in 1840 by Gokul Chandra Daw, father of Shib Krishna Daw. From then the tradition has been carried on by Shib Krishna and later by his descendants. Old records from the family office show that the expense of the Puja was a mere Rs.2500 some 150 years ago. The expenses have now increased exponentially to lakhs. The Thakur dalan (courtyard) is quite impressive with overhanging balconies.

The decoration of the idol is quite impressive. Gold is only used to decorate the ‘chalchitra‘ on the back of the Goddess along with ornaments of diamonds and emeralds. It is said that Goddess Durga comes to wear her jewellery at the Jorasanko Daw House. The Goddess Durga wears maroon coloured velvet saree.

It is believed that Goddess Durga comes to the Abhay Charan Mitra Bari at Kumartuli for having a meal, goes to the Daw family to wear the jewellery and to Sovabazar Rajbari to enjoy music and dance

  1. Narasingha Daw Family Durga Puja

Narasingha Daw Family Durga Puja in Kolkata - Bonedi Barir Durga Puja in Kolkata

Address: 20 Vivekananda Road, Kolkata – 700006

Famously known as the Gunmakers’ Durga Puja, this Puja started in 1859 at the Dawn Mansion in Vivekananda Road. Originally from Kotulpur in Bankura, one of the ancestors of the Daw family, Nrisingha Prasad Daw expanded the family business of spices to Rishra and later to Calcutta. The foundation of the gun business was laid by Narasingha Chandra Daw in 1835 and they competed well with the British counterparts. Durga Puja was started in 1859 and later Nandalal Daw started the Puja in the thakurdalan.

The main attraction of the Daw family Puja is the use of a cannon during the time of Sandhi Puja and arati. This ritual introduced by N. C. Daw is still followed religiously by the members of the family. The 17-inch cannon made by Winchester Repeating Arms Company has all the functionalities of a regular cannon. There are pictures of various guns, pistols and rifles at the thakurdalan. The idol of the Goddess is quite gorgeous and decorated with daker saaj. Another unique tradition in the Daw family is that on Dashami, before the immersion of the idols, a gun salute is given to the Goddess.

  1. Laha Family Durga Puja

Address: 2A Bidhan Sarani (College Street) or 121 Mukataram Babu Street, North Kolkata,

50A, Kailash Bose Street, Kolkata- 700006 or 1 Bechu Chatterjee Street

The Durga Puja at Laha Bari is now a tradition over two centuries old. The Durga Puja was started by Late Bhagabati Charan Laha. The Puja is now hosted alternatively at different locations by different branches of the family. The Puja is held alternatively with grandeur at 2A, Bidhan Sarani, or at 121, Muktaram Babu Street, or at 50A, Kailash Bose Street or at 1, Bechu Chatterjee Street.

At Laha family too, you will not find the common idol of the Goddess slaying the Asura. Here the Goddess is seated on the lap of Lord Shiva with her eyes closed. This is known as Haragouri. The Astadhatu idol of the deity Jai Jai Ma is also brought from her family seat to the Thakur dalan during the days of Durga Puja. Family hearsay says that the original astadhatu deity was stolen about a hundred years ago, but when the culprits realized that it was not made out of pure gold, they dumped it halfway. Luckily a family member bought the idol back home.

One of the unique features of the Laha Bari Bhog is that more than 20 types of sweets are offered to the Goddess, but there is no anna bhog. A grand assortment of sweets like tiler nadu, narkel nadu, sujir nadu, paan gaja, jibey gaja, moong daler laddu, maidar laddu, chholar daler nadu, peraki, ledikeni, pantua and more are offered to the Goddess.

  1. Madan Mohan Dutta family Durga Puja

Address: 2, Dutta Para Lane, Kolkata – 700020

The Dutta family had their roots in Andul, Howrah district. Gobindasharan Dutta Chowdhury was appointed as Inland Revenue collector under Raja Todar Mal. Gobindasharan impressed Todar Mal so much that he was awarded a vast amount of land at some place in North Kolkata and was finally appointed the Governor of the province in 1954. The area where he lived came to be known as Gobindapore. Later his descendant, Ram Chandra Dutta gave up this land to the British in exchange for land at Hatkhola. This was here in Gobindapore where the Fort William was constructed initially.

Madan Mohan Dutta was the grandson of Ram Chandra Dutta and was quite famous among the Dutta family. He was said to have amassed great wealth from the banking business. He was also the owner of a number of ships. Durga Puja is conducted here every year in a grand way. Dewan Jagat Ram Dutta was the cousin of Madan Mohan Dutta, who left the house in 1788 AD and settled at Nimtala Ghat Lane. The house came to be known as Haatkhola Dutta Bari and Jagatram later started Durga Puja and Kali Puja at that house from 1794 AD.

  1. Chhatu Babu Latu Babu’s Durga Puja

Chhatu Babu Latu Babu Barir Durga Puja - Bonedi Bari Durga Puja in Kolkata

Address: “Ramdulal Nibas”, 67E Beadon Street, Kolkata – 700006

The very red-coloured grand building on Beadon Street in North Calcutta celebrates one of the oldest Durga Pujas ok Kolkata. The Puja was first organized in 1770 by Ishwar Ram Dulal Deb (Sarkar). Ram Dulal Deb Sarkar was one of the leading businessmen of Kolkata, though he had a very humble beginning. The grand house is known as Chatu Babu and Latu Babu’s house after Ram Dulal Deb’s sons Ashutosh (Chhatu) and Pramatha (Latu).

The Goddess here is decorated with family heirlooms and ornaments that includes a dazzling ‘Naulakha Necklace”. The Goddess here is accompanied by her two companions Jaya and Bijaya perched on lotuses. A simple meal of luchi (a kind of Indian bread) and three kinds of vegetables, fried in ghee, is offered to the Goddess here. The food is cooked without salt.

Chhatu Babu Latu Babu Bari Durga Puja

  1. Maniktala Saha Family Durga Puja

Address: 122A Maniktala Street, Kolkata-700006

Originally from Allahabad, the Saha family dealt with salt business and amassed great wealth from it. They had huge Zamindari throughout Kolkata. The Saha mansion is quite grand coloured white and with a huge courtyard and a well-decorated thakurdalan inside. The Puja is almost 150 years old.

  1. Ghose Family Durga Puja of Ghose Lane

Address: 4 Ghosh Lane, Manicktala, Kolkata-700006

The uniqueness of the Ghose Bari Durga Puja lies in the fact that they do not offer Sandhi Puja prayers on Ashtami. Instead, the family conducts Kalyani Puja in the morning and evening. This tradition was started by Girish Chandra Ghose, the family patriarch. It is said that Ghose’s guru and mentor had died during the Sandhi Puja. So the practice of Sandhi Puja was discontinued in the Ghose household and Kalyani Puja was introduced since then.

The Durga Puja was started by Girish Chandra Ghose himself in 1856. It is said that originally, Durga Puja was conducted in the temple in Ghose’s ancestral property in Paranchapur village in Hooghly district. All the Puja items were taken from Baghbazar Ghat to Mogra and then to the village by boat.

  1. Pataldanga Basu Mallick Family Durga Puja

Address: 18 & 22 Radhanath Mallick Lane, Kolkata – 700012

The Basu Mallicks trace their origin to Gopinath Basu and his brother Ballav. Gopinath was the minister of Hussain Shah of Gaur. During the Pathan rule, the Basu Mallicks were forced to move to different parts of Bengal and one of the branches of the family relocated in Kantagarh near Pandua in Hooghly. Ramkumar Basu Mallick came to Kolkata in 1794 and got married to Shankari Debi, the daughter of Krishnaram Aich, a resident of Pataldanga area. Shankari bore a son Radhanath Basu Mallick who was the reason behind the fortune of the family. Radhanath was one of the first Bengalis to learn English. Being a prudent man, he increased the fortune of the family and also started conducting Durga Puja at 18, Radhanath Mallick Lane in 1831.  When he died at an age of 44 years, at that time, he had 40 houses in Calcutta.

One of the grandsons of Radhanath, Kshetramohan Basu Mallick had started Durga Puja at 22, Radhanath Mallick Lane. The thakurdalan here has a cast iron frame with glass behind it. infact, Kshetra Mohan Basu Mallick started the Durga Puja with the ritual of firing guns to announce the Sandhi Puja. It is at this moment, the Devi was said to have killed the Chanda and Munda forms of Asura, and was later venerated as Chamunda.

The oldest mansion at 18, Radhanath Mallick Lane has a huge courtyard with statuettes of mercury all over. They used to hold gas lamps. Above the thakurdalan, there is a depiction of the ten avatars of Vishnu. The lion is one of the interesting features of the idol. It has the body of a horse and the face of a dragon.

There is an interesting ritual at the Basu Mallick house – ‘Kadamati Khela’ where the men of the house play with clay and mud and dance to the beat of dhak.

Ashtami Anjali during Durga Puja

  1. Thanthania Dutta Family Durga Puja

Address: 3 Bidhan Sarani (College Street), Kolkata – 700006 (Near Thanthania Kali Bari)

At Thanthania Dutta family, the Goddess is worshipped in the Hara-Gouri form. Goddess Parvati is sitting on the lap of Lord Shiva peacefully displaying Abhaya and Varada Mudra. Here she is not the demon-slaying Goddess, but the peaceful and loving mother Goddess. The Durga Puja was started in 1855 by Dwarakanath Dutta and is still celebrated with much reverence. Dhuno Porano ritual is followed by the women of the house.

  1. Balaram Dey Street Dutta Bari Durga Puja

Address: 159, Balaram De Street Kolkata – 700006

The Durga Puja of Dutta family at Balaram Dey Street started in 1882. Shyamal Dhon Dutta, Solicitor of High Court who belonged to the famous Dutta family of Hathkhola, started the Durga Puja in his house. The family still follows a number of traditional rituals that have been a part of the past.

During the immersion, the idols are carried on bamboos on the shoulders of the family members instead of carrying them on a truck. The chalchitra is attached to three bamboos following the family tradition. Also, the Kumari Puja is held on all three days of the festival. The women of the family follow the ritual of Dhunaporano. The women sit with clay malsha (bowls) filled with burning frankincense in their hands and on their heads, as a votive offering for the well-being of their children.

  1. Mahendra Sreemany Family Durga Puja

Address: 17 Mahendra Srimani Street (Sukea Street), Kolkata – 700009

Mahendra Sreemany was an elite Zamindar settled in Calcutta around the 19th century. The Sreemany family house was built on 1911 and the Durga Puja celebrated here is almost 100 years old. The gorgeous thakurdalan has a bust of Mahendra Sreemany. The Durga idol here is a traditional one having decorated beautifully with ‘daaker saaj’.

  1. Darjipara Mitra Bari Durga Puja

Darjipara Mitra Barir Durga Puja

Address: 19, Nilmani Mitra Street, Kolkata – 700006

When the Durga idols were immersed in River Ganges at Nimtala Ghat Street, two Nilkantha birds were flown by the members of Radhakrishna Mitra family. One of the birds is flown towards Kailash mountains, the abode of Lord Shiva. The birds inform the Lord that his consort Goddess Durga has left the earth for her heavenly abode. The other bird was flown towards the Mitra Bari (house). This bird would inform the family members that Goddess Durga has promised to return again next year. This ritual was meticulously followed since 1809, the year when Durga Puja was started in the family. But after the introduction of the Wildlife Preservation Act, this ritual was abolished. The Darjipara Mitra Bari Puja was one of the top three Pujas of Calcutta along with Jorasanko Daw Bari and Sovabazar Rajbari.

Durgacharan Mitra, a renowned businessman was the stalwart of the Mitra family. Out of his many businesses, Durgacharan Mitra was also the court jeweller of Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula. His nephew Nilmoni Mitra continued his legacy (Nilmoni Mitra Street was named after him). Later the condition of the family declined, but Nilmoni Mitra’s grandson, Radhakrishna Mitra brought back the lost glory and fortune. Radhakrishna Mitra started the family Durga Puja.

Darjipara Mitra Bari Durga Puja Kolkata

The Durga Puja at Darjipara Mitra Bari is a grand affair. Here, instead of offering 108 lotus flowers to the Goddess, are 108 Aparajita flowers are offered. The idols of Goddess Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati have beatific faces, but Kartick and the demon Asura had been given human faces. The face of Durga’s lion is that of a horse and the body and mane of a lion. The idols are placed on a 210 years old grand throne. The chala is known as Muttchouri. Muttchouri is a specific school of Bengali traditional terracotta motifs placed beautifully to create three arch structures supported by four pillars. Atop are three tomb-like structure representing the three Mahashakti of Shakta faith.

The idol is dressed and decorated by the members of the family only. The Gen-Y actively takes part in ensuring tradition is maintained while decorating the idol. And this is what makes Durga Puja so special! The Mitra family offers different types of Sweets and bhog to the Goddess. On Bijaya Dashami (last day of the festival), the women of the house eat a meal comprising shukto, shaak, maachh and achaar offered as part of the bhog.

  1. Nilmani Sen Family Durga Puja

Address: 130 Baithak Khana Road, Kolkata – 700009

The mansion is named after Nilmani Sen, a noted gold merchant of Calcutta. Nilmani Sen moved to Calcutta in the 19th century from Jessore (now in Bangladesh) and started living at Jakeria Street in Central Calcutta. The Durga Puja was initially started by him at his Jakeria street residence. Kanailal Sen, grandson of Nilmani Sen acquired a house along with the thakurdalan and courtyard at the Baithak Khana road, and since 1913, the Puja is celebrated at this address. The arched thakurdalan looks quite grand and beautiful.

Here, the Durga idol is not the demon-slaying Goddess having ten hands, but in the form of Abhaya Murti having two hands. The Goddess has three eyes and is sitting on a throne of lotus. During Sandhi Puja, 108 lamps are lit in front of the Goddess. There is a special ritual of raktadan (blood offering) followed for centuries. Now, the ritual is performed by offering blood from a small cut in the chest onto wood apple leaves and hibiscus flower.

Rani Rashmoni Family Durga Puja third one

  1. Shambhunath Sen Family Durga Puja

Address: 3, Rammohan Ray Sarani (Amherst Street), Kolkata – 700009 (Beside Lady Dufferin Hospital)

The Durga Puja at Shambhunath Sen Family was started in 1923. The idol of the goddess is made keeping in mind the design of the house having ‘ekchala’ design. Shambhunath Sen was a sales commission agent with G. Arthurton & Co. who imported products like Sunlight, Pears and Lux from Lever Brothers (Now Hindustan Unilever) in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Later they also imported Cherry Blossom Shoe Polish and Horlicks.

  1. Patuatola Bannerjee Family Durga Puja

Address: Durga Bari, 8 Patuatola Lane, Kolkata – 700009 (Near College square)

The Patuatola Banerjee Family Durga Puja dates back to 1890 and was started by Late Beni Madhob Banerjee who was the first Indian attorney. Late Beni Madhob Banerjee was the attorney of famous personalities like Rani Rashmoni, Chatu Babu and Latu Babu. He was the partner of the firm Owen and Banerjee along with Mr. Henry Owen.

The bhog of the Puja is prepared elaborately by the women of the family. This elaborate spread is made of 108 mounds of sugar topped with narkol naru (coconut laddoos), symmetrically placed on massive brass plates. In earlier days musical conference used to be held on the days of Durga Puja. The age-old tradition is still maintained, though on a smaller scale.

Priest offering prayers during Puja

  1. Harinath Mookerjee Family Durga Puja

Address: 4, Kalidas Singha Lane Kolkata – 700009 (Behind Rajabazar Science College)

You will find the Mookherjee house in a narrow lane in the Rajabazar area. Durga Puja started in this grand old mansion way back in 1722 when Harinath Mookherjee left his ancestral home at Godalpara village in Chandannagar and came to Calcutta for better opportunities. It is said that Harinath Mookherjee had bought a metal ghot (a pot to store water) with him when he came to Calcutta. This ghot was supposedly found by his grandfather while ploughing the field. After he found the ghot, he had a divine dream in which he was instructed to worship Devi Mangalchandi every day.

Harinath Mookherjee started a business as a jute supplier for the East India Company and was quite successful at that. He became a zamindar and built the mansion at Rajabazar area with a huge thakurdalan. There is a decorative arch on the thakurdalan (courtyard) with the idol of Ganesh and various flower motifs.

  1. Baishnab Das Mallick’s Durga Puja

Address: 32, Darpanarayan Tagore Street, Kolkata – 700006

What intrigued me about this Bonedi Bari Puja is that the idol of Goddess Durga is not in her usual “Mahismardini” look. Instead, she is sitting on the lap of Lord Shiva. Also, instead of the Lakshmi and Saraswati, there are the idols of Jaya and Bijaya. The idols of Jaya and Bijaya are not only taller than that of Kartik and Ganesh, but also than the Goddess herself.

The Baishnab Das Mallick’s Durga Puja is almost 235 years old. Baishnabdas Mallick was a famous gold merchant of those times and also dealt with real estate. The Mullick residence is one of the ancient buildings of Kolkata and having a huge and well-decorated courtyard. The family puja was started way back in 1785 when Baishnabdas Mullick had a divine dream from the Goddess.

  1. Haatkhola Dutta Family Durga Puja

Address: 78, Nimtala Ghat Street, Kolkata – 700006

The Haatkhola Dutta Family Durga Puja dates back to 1794 and is different in quite a number of ways. The sari worn by the Goddess is actually not an original one, but made from the clay itself and draped over the idol. The saris and jewellery too are made from clay and then painted upon. Kartik is dressed as a soldier in uniform. The family does not use rice and potato in the preparation of bhog. Another interesting fact about the Puja is that a khirer putul (a doll made of thickened milk) is sacrificed as a symbolic gesture. Even to date, after the immersion of the idols, the men of the house return home while singing the famous song “Banga Amar Janani Amar” by D.L. Roy. This tradition is still followed.

Originally belonging to Andul, one of the ancestors Ramchandra Dutta relocated in Calcutta and settled down at the Haatkhola area. His grandson was Dewan Jagatram Dutta. Jagatram could not tolerate the dominating attitude of his cousin brother Madan Mohan Dutta and in 1788 left the house (The old Dutta house is now known as Madan Mohan Dutta House) and constructed a palatial mansion at Nimtala Ghat Street. He started Durga Puja and Kali Puja at this house in 1794 AD. Jagatram Dutta was employed in East India Company’s Export-import Division in Patna Warehouse.

  1. Bholanath Dutta Family Durga Puja

Bholanath Dham Durga Puja in Kolkata - Bonedi Barir Durga Puja in Kolkata

Address: “Bholanath Dham”, 33/2, Beadon Street (Abhedananda Road), Kolkata – 700006

The Bholanath Dutta Family Durga Puja was first conducted by Bholanath Dutta, first in 1905 at the Varanasi Ashram. His sons continued this Puja after his death and eventually shifted to their residence in Sovabazar Street.

This century-old Puja carries on the tradition of the legendary sea merchant Chand Sadagar, the worshipper of Shankar Bhabani. Bholanath Dutta is said to be the descendants of Dhanapati Saudagar of the Gandhabanik clan, who had originally visualized the image of the Goddess that is worshipped here.

Dhuno Porano ritual at Bholanath Dham in North Kolkata

The speciality of the Goddess here is that Shiva-samanwita Durga is worshipped at the Bholanath Dham. Neither does she carry weapons nor she is accompanied by the lion or the warring demon asura. Here, she is worshipped as Goddess Parvati, sitting serenely on the lap of Lord Shiva. Instead of ten hands, she has two, displaying Abhaya and Varada mudras. This type of idol is also known as Hara-Gouri. Bholanath Dham conducts Kumari Puja on Ashtami and the ritual of Dhunoporano by the ladies of the house. Bholanath Dham is now famous for the flying Fanus (flying lantern) during the time of Kali Puja or Diwali.

  1. Mallick Bari Singha Bahini Durga Puja

Mallick Bari Singha Bahini Durga Puja

Address: 39, Jatindra Mohan Avenue, Kolkata – 700006

The Mallick Bari Singha Bahini Durga Puja is almost 400 years old. The idol of the Goddess has an interesting history. It is said that in 1614 the ancestor of the Mallick family Baidyanath Mallick found the ashta dhatu idol of the Singhabahini Durga at a cave in Chattagram, now in Bangladesh. He brought the idol to Saptagram of Bengal and after getting divine intervention started worshipping the idol.

The puja of this idol is conducted alternatively at Jatindra Mohan Avenue house and at the Kashinath Mullick Thakurbari at Mahatma Gandhi Road. The idol is quite unique in its look. The idol has an inbuilt gold crown on Her head and the face of the lion looks more like a dragon.

The Mallick family is quite large. The idol of Goddess Durga stays with each of the associates for some period of time and it is the responsibility of that associate to conduct the Puja for the time the idol stays with them. It is said that each associate gets a turn after almost 30 years to conduct the Puja.

Mallick Bari, North Kolkata

  1. Kabiraj Ganga Prasad Sen Family Durga Puja

Address: 17 Kumartuli Street,  Kolkata – 700005 (Near Kumartuli Ghat)

Nilambar Sen was a renowned Kabiraj from Dhaka (currently in Bangladesh). His son, Ganga Prasad Sen was an equally gifted physician. After relocating from East Bengal (now Bangladesh), Kabiraj Ganga Prasad Sen settled at Kumartuli area. Gradually he became more famous than his father. He was the physician of Sri Ramkrishna Deb.

The Durga Puja was started at the Sen Family house in 1840. Here the Puja is conducted following Shaivism. The uniqueness of the idol is that here the idol of Ganesh is on the left side of Goddess Durga and Kartik is on the right side. Earlier, animal sacrifice was practised but now it has been discontinued.

  1. Adharlal Sen Family Durga Puja

Address: 97A and 97B Beniatola Street, Kolkata – 700005

Adharlal Sen was one of the most noted devotees of Sri Ramkrishna Paramahansa Deb. Born in 1855 in Ahiritola, Adharlal Sen was a meritorious student who had won Duff Scholarship in English literature. He graduated from Presidency College in 1877 and became the Deputy Magistrate of Chittagong district at quite a young age of 24. He was later appointed as a faculty member at Calcutta University in 1884. This learned man died at a very young age even before he turned 30.

Durga Puja was started at the house in 97B Beniatola Lane in 1859 by his father Ramgopal Sen. The family follows Vaishnavism and the family eats vegetarian food from Sashti to Nabami. Sri Ramkrishna Deb used to visit Adharlal Sen’s house at various occasions and even during the Durga Puja. These days, the house has been divided into two parts, each conducting Durga Puja at 97A and 97B Beniatola Lane.

  1. Chorbagan Chatterjee Family Durga Puja

Address: 120, Muktaram Babu Street, Kolkata -700007

The origin of the Chorbagan Chatterjee Family can be traced back to Khulna, now in Bangladesh. Dhanabijay Chatterjee had come to Kolkata from Khulna, and his grandson Ran Chandra Chatterjee was responsible for the prosperity of the family. The Durga Puja was started by him in 1860 at his Muktaram Babu Street residence. The house is today known as “Ram Chandra Bhawan”.

The idols are dressed in Benarasi Sarees and extensive gold ornaments. There is a cloth placed on the lion where the name of Ram Chandra Chatterjee is printed on it. The men of the family prepare the bhog. Here, fishes and non-vegetarian items are offered as bhog to the Goddess. Another tradition that this family follows to date is their love for theatre. In earlier days, during the Pujas, a theatre used to be staged at the house by professionals as well as family members. There is a Natmandir (dancing hall) at the back of the thakurdalan for staging the theatre.

A woman climbing stairs

  1. Chorbagan Mitra Family Durga Puja

Address: 84, Muktaram Babu Street, Kolkata -700007

The red coloured palatial mansion was built by Ramsundar Mitra who had built a huge fortune by lending money. It is said that he was even the moneylender to Lord Clive. The grand old building with six giant pillars at the entrance is an example of Gothic architecture. The Mitra family conducts Durga Puja as well Kali Puja both in equal aplomb. The Durga Puja is more than 350 years old here. The Puja is conducted at the thakurdalan on Muktaram Babu Street or in the courtyard whose entrance is through the narrow Mitra Lane adjacent to the house.

Apart from Durga Puja, the grand old mansion also decks up for Kali Puja. It is known as ‘Mithai Puja’ as 150 kg of laddoos is offered to the Goddess.

  1. Chorbagan Seal Family Durga Puja

Address: 42, Muktaram Babu Street, Kolkata -700007

The Chorbagan Seal family Durga Puja dates back to more than 150 years and was started by the initiative of Kshetramani Dasi, wife of Babu Ram Chand Seal, a renowned businessman of Calcutta. Babu Ram Chand Seal originally belonged to Gutiabazar of Hooghly and later shifted to Calcutta in 1849 and acquired properties at Chorbagan. He was a successful entrepreneur who imported textiles from Manchester and exported rice, vermilion and mercury to the Southeast Asian countries. The Durga Puja was started at his spiritual guide’s (gurudev) residence at Goswami Lane in Bagbazar. After 5 years in 1856, the Puja was shifted to his house at Chorbagan. The Seal family follows Vaishnavism and hence no animal and fruit sacrifices are offered to the Goddess.

Little Girl Dressed as Kumari

  1. Motilal Seal Family Durga Puja

Address: 60 Colootola Street (Maulana Shaukat Ali Street), Kolkata – 700073

Motilal Seal was said to be the “Richest and most virtuous Baboo of Calcutta” by Hindu Intelligence on his obituary. He was a famous business and entrepreneur and amassed great wealth by sheer hard work and aptitude. He used this wealth in a lot of philanthropic activities. A supporter of widow remarriage, he had also extended financial support and co-operation for the establishment of Hindu Charitable Institution and Hindu Metropolitan College. Motilal Seal Street, Motilal Seal Bathing Ghat and a ward of Medical College is named after him.

The Durga Puja at Motilal Seal’s house is said to be more than 150 years old. The Nabapatrika is bathed at the Seal Ghat on Saptami morning. Dhuno Porano ritual is followed here by the married women of the family.

  1. Kundu Family Durga Puja

Address: 9, Peary Mohan Pal Lane, Kolkata – 700007

The Kundu Family Durga Puja was started by Krishna Das Kundu in 1879 at the desire of his wife Rajomoni Dasi. Krishna Das Kundu dealt in the business of kerosene. The thakurdalan of the Kundu family is beautiful with stucco work on it. Dhuno Porano ritual is followed by the married women of the house on Ashtami.

  1. Amrita Lal Dawn Family Durga Puja

Address: 8 Dinu Rakhsit Lane, Kolkata – 700005

The Amrita Lal Dawn Family Durga Puja was started by Amrita Lal Dawn who had monopolized the business of petrol, diesel and kerosene in Kolkata. Originally from Bankura, the Durga Puja here is more than 120 years old. The Thankurdalan is decorated beautifully. Dhuno Porano ritual is followed here by the married women of the family. The family also celebrates Jagadhatri Puja and Kali Puja as well.

Durga Puja in Kolkata

  1. Akrur Dutta Family Durga Puja

Address: 1 Rajen Datta Lane, Kolkata – 700012

Akrur Dutta was the founder of one of the respectable families of Calcutta, the family of ‘Dutts’ in Wellington Square. Born in 1720 at Sonatikri village in Hooghly, Akrur Dutt came to Calcutta at the age of 20 years and started a career of ‘dadni’, a contract merchant. Later, he started doing business with Pritiram Marh, father-in-law of Rani Rashmoni.

Durga Puja was started at the Dutta residence in the late eighteenth century in the thakurdalan of the house. During that period, Bengal always lived in the fear of invasion from the Marathas and Arakans. So there is a hideout under the thakurdalan which had an opening at the Wellington Square.

  1. Sisir Kumar Haldar Family Durga Puja

Address: 15 Ramanath Kabiraj Lane (55 Sashibhusan dey Street), Kolkata – 700012

The Sisir Kumar Haldar Family Durga Puja is believed to have started in 1847 by Rashmoni Devi, wife of Lakshmi Narayan Haldar. The grand house has beautiful stained glass decoration and the thakurdalan has a unique structure.

The idol of the Goddess is that of Singabahini and made of ashtadhatu (a mixture of eight metals). The idol remains in the Thakur Ghar of the house and is brought to the Thakurdalan on Sashti and after Dashami, the idol is again brought back to its original place.

  1. Nilmoni Dutta Family Durga Puja

Address: 56A, Doctor’s Lane, Kolkata – 700014

The Nilmoni Dutta family Durga Puja was started by Nilmoni Dutta almost 110 years back at Doctor’s Lane near Taltala. The thakurdalan has a single arch and the Durga idol is in the Ekchala form. The family also celebrated Jagaddhatri Puja with equal elan.

Bonedi Barir Durga Puja in Central Kolkata Area

  1. Rani Rashmoni Family Durga Puja

Rani Rashmoni Bari Durga Puja

Address: 13 Rani Rashmoni Road, 18/3 S.N. Banerjee Road and 18 Rani Rashmoni Road, Kolkata

The founder of Dakshinewar Kali Temple, Rani Rashmoni’s family Durga Puja is one of the most celebrated family pujas in Kolkata. The Durga Puja at Janbazar residence is now better known as Rani Rashmoni’s Durga Puja, but the puja was originally started by the Rani’s father-in-law Babu Pritaram Marh (Das) in 1974. Currently, this Puja is being held at 13, Rani Rasmoni Road. It is at the courtyard of this house where Sri Ramkrishna Paramahansa Deb used to conduct Durga Puja.

Rani Rasmoni had four daughters. After her death in 1861, her daughters and son-in-laws continued the celebration at their premises. The Durga Puja at 13, Rani Rasmoni Road is now conducted by the Hazra family. The second puja is celebrated by Chowdhury family at 18/3, Surendra Nath Banerjee Road. The third puja is conducted at 18, Rani Rashmoni Road by the Biswas family. This house has a square-shaped courtyard and the Goddess is the traditional ‘ekchala’ type with ‘daker saaj’.

Rani Rashmoni Family Durga Puja

  1. Chandra Family Durga Puja

Address: 23 Nirmal Chandra Street, Kolkata – 700012

The Chandra family originally hailed from Nadia district of West Bengal and the family settled at Calcutta in 1781 when Bharat Chandra came here. The Durga Puja was started by Ganesh Chandra in 1877 (Ganesh Chandra Avenue is named after him). He had built the grand thakurdalan which was designed by the famous architect Srish Chandra Chattopadhyay. Union Minister Late Pratap Chandra Chunder was a member of this family. He was also the founder Chairman of the West Bengal Heritage Commission.

  1. Dutta Family Durga Puja

Address: 62 Hidaram Banerjee Lane, Kolkata – 700012

The Dutta Family Durga Puja at Hidaram Banerjee Lane was started by Gobinda Chandra Dutta in 1883. He was a well-known businessman of Kolkata dealing in Belgium Glass. The Goddess here is in Hara-Gouri form with Goddess Durga sitting on the lap of Lord Shiva. The demon Mahisasur is not present and the Goddess has two hands in the Abhaya Mudra instead of ten hands.

  1. Biswanath Motilal Family Durga Puja

Address: 1/C Durga Pithuri Lane,  Kolkata – 700012

The Biswanath Motilal family is one of the oldest families of Calcutta. The Motilal family originated from Joynagar in West Bengal. They were originally Ganguly, but were later conferred the title of “Motilal”.  The Durga Puja is celebrated at the Motilal house for over three centuries. It is said that Biswanath Motilal gifted a market (bazar) to his Bengali daughter-in-law. That is why the area came to be known as “Bahubazar” (Bahu means daughter-in-law in Hindi) which was later mispronounced as Bowbazar. (This is one of the theories for the evolution of the name of Bowbazar).

  1. Nilmani Dey family Durga Puja

Address: 45 Hidaram Banerjee Lane, Kolkata – 700012

When Calcutta was growing as a trade centre, many families from Saptagram in Hooghly district relocated to Calcutta for the purpose of business and trade. The Dey family was also one of them. Nilmani Dey had lost his father at an early age and was brought up at his maternal uncle’s place. Nilmani Dey worked as an ordinary clerk in a British firm. But not satisfied with a job, he started his own business and gradually improved made a fortune.

It is said that once Nilmani Dey had a divine intervention. The Goddess appeared in his dream and instructed him to build Lakshmi-Narayan and Jagannath Temple. He bought the land adjacent to his house and built a beautiful temple of Lakshmi Narayan at that place. this was in 1896. Later he made an ashtadhatu (made of eight metals) idol of Goddess Durga and started worshipping the Goddess. The Durga idol is really beautiful and is worshipped every year since then.

  1. Beleghata Bhattacharya Family Durga Puja

Address: 1/2 P/1B, Ramkrishna Naskar Lane, Kolkata – 700010

Direction: while going from the E M Byepass towards Beleghata, you will find Dhiren Charu Smriti Sangha Durga Puja on the left side of the road. If you move a little ahead, the Bhattacharya house will fall on the left.

The most striking feature of this Durga Puja is that the Goddess Durga is black in colour. This family Durga Puja is almost 287 years old and was started at the Sthal Basantapur area in the Pabna district of Bangladesh by Sri Haridev Bhattacharya. Originally from Nadia district in West Bengal, Sri Haridev shifted to Sthal Basantapur when Rani Bhavani of Natore gifted him land there and became the Zamindar.

Sri Haridev Bhattacharya was actually the devotee of Goddess Kali and Kali Puja was conducted by the family annually. He had a divine intervention from Goddess Durga asking him to conduct Durga Puja at his residence. The Goddess instructed him to pray her in the form of a black idol. Even when the Puja was shifted from Bangladesh to the Beleghata region, the old traditions and rituals are still followed.

The Durga idol is black in colour and the Mahisasur is green. The Goddess is worshipped in the form of Bhadrakali according to Kalika Puran. Here, Lakshmi and Kartik stand on the right side of the Goddess and Saraswati and Ganesh on the left side.

Priest chanting prayers during Durga Puja

Disclaimer:

The list of Bonedi Bari Durga Puja in Kolkata has been compiled with the help of fellow bloggers, numerous newspaper articles, facebook posts and talking to various people. The list is not a comprehensive one as there are so many places we are yet to see and hear of. We would definitely like to keep on adding to this list. If you are aware of any such Bonedi Barir Durga Puja that is not in the list, please do let us know. We will be happy to include the Puja in the list with mention and gratitude. There might be some factual errors as we have got the details by talking to various people. If you find any such errors, please do let us know.

We sincerely thank Sumit Surai for patiently taking us to the various family Durga Pujas.

References:

  • Newspapers like Anadabazar Patrika, Ei Samay, The Hindu, Times of India & The Telegraph
  • Calcutta – a Cultural & Literary History by Krishna Dutta
  • Bonedi Kolkatar Ghor Bari by Debasish Bandopadhyay

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Agni & Amrita

Agni & Amrita

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We are Agni and Amrita, the story-telling team behind Tale of 2 Backpackers and partners in crime in travel and (mis)adventures of life. We have been travelling together for more than a decade looking for immersive experiences while enjoying the little beauties of life. We are intrigued by heritage, culture, festivals and people and that is reflected in our travel. And yes, we love the Himalayas too.

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