The History of Durga Pujo in Kolkata

Durga Puja is around the corners and with the increasing traffic even amidst a pandemic, the excitement of Kolkatans cannot be more apparent! No matter if it is 10 days of Navaratri or 4 days of Mahasaptami, Mahashtami, Mahanabami and Vijaya dashami, our hearts start anticipating the rhythm of dhak months prior to the first gust of Autumn wind.

But how much do millennials actually know about the origins of this grand festival?

Sreebhoomi Durga Pujo 2019.

Since our childhoods, all of us are familiar with the mythology of the festival through the famous Mahalaya: the saga of the evil Mahishasura being defeated by the ‘Divine Mother’. Characterised by her ten hands carrying deadly weapons, Goddess Durga is considered as the ‘destroyer of the evil’ and ‘protector of the Earth’ in the Hindu religion.

From the variations in its form and traditions, Durga Puja has evolved through the ages with its numerous cultural adaptations spanning the country. The earliest celebrations date back to as early as the 1500s, organized by the Zamindars of Malda and Dinajpur. According to other sources, the first traditional Sharadiya Durga Puja was initiated by Raja Kangshanarayan of Taherpur in 1606.

Durga Pujo is a big affair in Kolkata and West Bengal.

The modern-day version of the celebration acquires its name of ‘Baroyari from the from of Durga puja that was organized by twelve friends meaning baro and yaarrespectively in Bengali). These twelve friends were from Guptipara in the district of present day Hooghly, West Bengal. They took contributions or chandafrom the local residents and collaborated with each other to host the first baroyari puja in 1790. The practice of community Durga puja was later brought to Kolkata by Raja Harinath of Cossimbazar in 1832.

The baroyari puja made way for the dominant mode of the celebrations today, that is the sarbajanin (meaning ‘for all people’ in Sanskrit) Durga puja. The first of its kind was held by the members of Sanatan Dharmotsahini Sabha who organized the first true to its name community puja in Baghbazar of Kolkata that saw complete public participation, in 19th century, and the heritage is still carried forward to the present day.

With emerge of the British rule, other states of India began to see celebrations of the festival. Since the capital shifted from Kolkata to Delhi, a large number of people from Bengal migrated to Delhi and so did their traditions. During the freedom movement, the goddess Durga was considered by many as a symbol for India and its struggle for independence, and gained immense popularity. It was during this time that Durga puja came to be one of the largest festivals of the country and attained its present status.

Durga Pujo is always celebrated with the building of large and magnificent “pandals” to house the Goddess.

Over the years, the appearance of the goddess and her ornaments have evolved with the financial status and creative taste of her worshippers, giving rise to the sholar shaaj (the traditional embellishments made of white shola reeds) and the daker shaaj (ornaments made out of imported German silver). The conventional pratima or clay idols of the goddess with her four offsprings, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh and Kartik, her baahan or vehicle the lion, and the defeated Mahishasura, all under one structure is known as ekchaala.

With time, the pratima and the pandal have attained several modifications. Today, Durga Puja is celebrated in different parts of the world with great splendor and merriment amidst people of all faiths.

And what can be of greater beauty about any festival than one that unites every one of us in a celebration of love and joy?

This year, however due to the Covid-19 situation, it might be impossible to have that traditional pandal hopping due to health concerns.

So we have created an andriod application to solve your problems. It is named “Utsav”. The main motive of this app is that, those who are unable to go out of their homes can sit at home and enjoy the Durga Puja without regretting the fact of not going out and enjoying. We hope that this app will surely help people enjoy the Durga Puja to their heart’s content and also deal with this pandemic situation effectively.

Download the app now-

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