History of Puja in Bengal DurgaPuja dates back to the Mughal era in the 16th century. Legend has it that the first Puja was organised by Raja Kangshanarayan of Teherpur, Nadia. At an expenses of Rs 8 lakh(approx) Raja Jagatnarayan of Bhaduria followed soon after, spending of Rs9lakh(approx) Other Hindu kings too came forward and the puja spread far and wide to Gour, RajMahal, Murshibad and Krishnagar.

Soon Durgha Puja bacame the Great annual festival for bringing together family, friends and neighbours and infusing life into the moribund village community. By mid of 18th Century, the national festival of the Bengalis had become the occasion for the nouveaux riches Babus of Kolkata to flaunt their wealth. They invited Europeans in every evening in their feast to grace their occasion. The participation of the Company Sahibs was a matter of great prestige for the host. As per The Calcutta Chronicle there was other dignitaries who hosted Durga Puja attended the British. They included Prankrishna Singha, Kesthochand Mitra, Narayan Mitra, Ramhari Thakur, Baranashi ghosh and Durpa Narayan Thukur.

The British too Participated enthusiastically and had Prassad and did Pranam, often lying Prostrate on the ground. The soldiers would salute "Goddess Doorgah". The British was so enthusiasm that Company Auditor General John Chips organized Durga Puja at his Birbhum Office.

Though there are many confusion about the inception of Durgapuja in Kolkata but some believe that the Puja of Saborno Chowdhury is the oldest puja in the city started at 1610 near Behala sakher Bazaar area. Second oldest Durgapuja is the Puja of Govindaram Mitra Of Kumartuli at the ealier 1800.Next renowned oldest Durgapuja is the Puja of Sovbazaar Raj Bar.

If individual initiative was on the decline, collective enterprise came to replace it. Much earlier in 1790, 12 Brahmin friends in Guptipara, Hooghly , had decided to institute Community Puja. Subscriptions were raised from neighbours. Thus started baro-yari Puja in Bengal which gained popularity in leaps and bounds.

Sarbojanin Durgotsab, as we know it today, started off much later in Kolkata, in the 1920s, with Shimlaya Byayam Samti and Bagbazar being the earliest. At present hundreds of Pujas are held in the city’s lanes and bilanes.

Durga puja is called the festival of kings because of involving the elaborate rites and rituals.

Yet over the years, the ritualistic aspect has been reduced to a large extent in the community Pujas.The accent is clearly on Crowd Pulling capacity. In earlier people would come to see Goddess then Pandal and lighting came in focus. Earlier Pandals would be draped in two coloured cloth spread over tarpaulin held up by a bare framework of bamboo poles. Gas lights used to do service in those days. Searchlights, focused through coloured cellophane, came next. Gradually it was the turn of the much brighter halogen lamps. Now of course there are metal lamps. Yet innovative pandals take the cake in terms of generating visitors volume.

Obviously, organisation on such a grand scale makes escalation of the budget imperative with the help of Corporate presence. Till the Eighties, the main source of fund of every pujas was door to door collection. Now it accounts maximum 0.1% of the budget of renowned puja Organiser.

If so many things are getting bigger and brighter, some others are also making a quiet exit. Old –timers for instance, miss the night long musical programmes that kept many a Para awake during the puja days. Doyen of Bengal and Bombay from Mukaesh to Manna Dey , K.L.Saigal to Sandhya Mukherjee would have their Puja nights booked well in advance. Some Pujas also organised marathon Jatra shows in the Sixties. Organisers attributed the trend to shoter attention span of the lems. Soirees are still a feature of some puja Mandaps but they end strictly at the strike of 10 or 11 PM.

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