Rituals of Durga Puja at Bonedi houses in Kolkata

Rituals are the most important part of the Durga Puja of Bonedi Houses. Durga Pooja is the grand festival of Kolkata as well as in Bengal. The Rituals are strictly maintained in the traditional poojas of Bonedi houses from the Day1 (Maha Shasti) to Day5 (Vijaya Doshomi or Dussera). The poojas, organized by different associations or the “Barwari Poojas” perform the basic customs of worshipping the Goddess Durga.  Besides the basic customs, there are some other types of customs related to the veneration of Devi (The Goddess) Durga. Those rituals are the unique types and they vary house to house.

[Bonedi Bari: It is a Bengali term. I don’t know its exact English term. But, the term “bonedi” comes from the Urdu word ‘buniyaadi’ which in turn comes from ‘buniyaad‘, that means foundation. Those families which were responsible for laying the foundations of the city of Kolkata began to be collectively called as Buniyaadi or bonedi. Most of the families have own zamindari systems which are abolished after the independence of India. Hence, these families are affluent and traditional Bengali families. The word “bari” denotes the houses. ]

Note: This is the 2nd Part of the series “Bonedi barir Durga Puja“.  In the first part I explained detail about the topic. So, who are not aware of the terms and the festival, please check the first post of the series, “ Glimpse of Bonedi barir Durga Puja in Kolkata.”


Navapatrika Snan:

The rituals are started from the “Navapatrika Snan” on the auspicious day of Maha Saptami. It is the custom of bathing of the banana stem in the river or the nearest Ponds during the dawn. The banana stem signifies the wife of Lord Ganesha (Kolabou in Bengali). It is actually the combination of nine leaves of nine different plants, which are are banana (kola), Arum (Mankochu), turmeric (halud), Jayanti, wood apple (bel), pomegranate (dalim), ashoka,  (mankochu) and rice paddy (dhan).  Hence it is also called Nabapatrika Puja/Snan ( In Sanskrit, Nava=Nine, Patrika=Leaves, Snan= Bathing.) After the bathing, the banana stem tied with nine different leaves, it is wrapped with the Red saree or Red bordered white saree by chanting Mantras. Then, it is placed beside the idol of Lord Ganesha. The idea is to symbolically transfer of life from the water to the banana tree, and through it, to the Goddess Durga ( “Pran Prothistha” is the Bengali term).

Nabapatrika snan or the ritual of bathing of banana stem tied with nine different types of leaves on the bank of the river Ganges.

Photo Courtesy: Google

Fire Rituals or Dhuno Porano:

The main rituals of the Maha Astomi ( Day 3 for Durga Puja and Day 8 for Navratri) are “Puspanjoli” and “Sondhi Puja”. These are performed by every Puja Pandals and Traditional houses. Besides these customs, some bonedi houses perform a unique ritual, that is “Dhuno Porano”. It is a ritual where the married women hold the burning “Malsas” ( the earthen pot)  on their palms and heads, praying for the peace and prosperity of their children as well as families. Friends and relatives get together and enjoy this festivity.

The Fire ritual or “Dhuno Porano” at Dutta Bari (house) of Thonthonia in Kolkata.

The male members of the family help the priest to perform the custom.  The priest sprinkles the powder of incense ( the powder form of the resin like Indian Frankincense) or dhuno over the slow-burning rice husk or coconut husk kept in the pot. The incense or the dhuno ignites the fire that fuels the husks within the pot.

The lady performing the fire ritual at Dutta house of Thonthonia.

This ritual is really tough. The women have to hold the hot and burning malsas (earthen pot) until the fire, within it, is not extinguished. It takes one to three minutes. They tolerate the tremendous heat of fire by holding the pots on their both hands and head. After performing the ritual, they are really get exhausted. But, people, surrounding them take them as the pure form of human being or near to God. The younger members of the family come to them to take their blessings.

The woman gets exhausted after performing the fire ritual or “Dhuno Porano” at Laha Bari (house) of Kolkata.
     The daughter is taking blessings from her mother after the fire rituals.

The series will be continued. Please stay updated, I will come with more stories and photos of the rituals of the Durga Puja at the Bonedi houses of Kolkata in India. If you enjoy the article, please don’t forget to share your view in the comment box.

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Sayanti aka ShineJyotirmoy Sarkar Recent comment authors
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Jyotirmoy Sarkar

Very nice described.Enjoyed reading it.
It reminded me of of one of my uncles(no blood relation) who used to perform Dhunuchi Naach very nicely with the sound of Dhak.