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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.