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Rituals of Durga Puja at Bonedi houses in Kolkata

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.”

Rituals:

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.

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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.

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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.
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     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.

Glimpse of Bonedi Barir Durga Puja at Kolkata

Glimpse of Bonedi Barir Durga Puja at Kolkata

Durga Puja in Kolkata is the grand social event. It is not just the event or the festival, but it also carries the sentiment of homecoming,  the feeling of the first love and the clustering of happiness that one can cherish throughout the year. It is celebrated for five days to honor the Goddess Durga and her sons and daughters who are also God and Goddess. In Kolkata, you can find two types of pujas. One is “Barwari”  or “Sarbojonin” that is celebrated with the association of the people of the different neighborhood and another is  “Pujas of traditional houses” or “Bonedi barir puja” that is conducted by the affluent houses  ( Bonedi bari) of the city. The northern part of Kolkata is much popular for the famous traditional puja including “Sarbojonin” and  “Bonedi barir Puja” whereas the southern part is much renowned for theme based  Associational Puja or “Sarbojonin Puja”. The art and creativity flourish in those theme-based pujas. On the other side,  Bonedi pujas are maintaining the age-old Bengali tradition, culture, and rituals. When the Bongs are celebrating Durga Puja in Bengal, the rest of the India is lionizing Navaratri that is also the occasion of worshipping Goddess Durga.

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The priest worshipping the Idols of the Goddess Durga in a “Sarbojonin” Durga Puja.

“Barwari” or “Sarbojonin” Durga Puja:

Durga Puja or Worshipping of the Goddes Durga is the five days festival, which starts from the sixth day of Navaratri ( Maha Shosthi) and ends on the tenth day that is called Vijaya Doshomi (Dussera). Each day, the idols of God and Goddes are worshipped in a different way by performing various rituals. The local clubs and associations conduct the puja in their respective locality and neighborhood for the people of that locality by making the pandals and the stages for worshipping the idols of Goddess. These are called in Bengali “Sarbojonin” or “Barowari Puja”. These are the huge celebrations where the huge amount of money and labor are invested. The art of making idols and the pandals based on the theme (it varies club to club) are so amazing that one must have an experience in his or her lifetime. People are all engaging in pandal hopping and tasting various types of food for all the days. There is no night in Kolkata at this time. Transport, shops, restaurants all are open for the whole night.

Bonedi Barir Durga Puja or Durga Puja of Bonedi Families:

The bonedi families are the ancient families of Kolkata and other regions of Bengal. They organize puja with the association of their relatives and family members.  These pujas are more than 100 or 200 years old. “Bonedi” is the native Bengali language. I don’t know its exact English term. Bonedi” families of Kolkata are those who are rich in tradition and maintaining the culture and have affluent financial conditions. Most of these families have their own Zamindari systems which are destroyed after the Independence of the country. Now, some of them are not so affluent, but they are still maintaining their old tradition with the devotion and performing all the rituals of the traditional puja.

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Bonedi barir Durga Puja: Idols of Dutta Bari (House) of Balaram dey street.

I, personally, do not like to hop pandals by fighting against the huge crowd of Kolkata. I just like to sit in one place and watching the rituals of the puja and the activities of the people in different dresses. I love to visit more than to involve in the activities that I liked in my earlier days.

This year, I have visited, some pujas of those Bonedi bari or families (read it traditional pujas of affluent families).  And I just want to show the glimpse of the conventional Pujas and the rituals of those houses within a traditional ambiance.  Here, you can find typical Bengali (bong) culture or the essence of Bengal.

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Thakur dalan ( The long free space or the veranda in front the established idol) of Mitra family. Mitra bari (house) of Darjipara has a huge and well maintained Thakurdalan.

In the time of puja, these families and houses get a new life because all the relatives and the family members are united again based on this festival. Those, who are staying abroad or different places of the country, come to their houses at this time. So, it is also the time of reunion.

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The members of Dutta family of Thonthonia ( The name of the place where the house is situated) get united at the “Thakur dalan” for performing Puja rituals. Men wear the traditional yellow colored cotton dhoti.

You can find typical bong or Bengali culture in this family gathering. The ladies wear sarees in the Bengali style and decorate themselves with the various types of gold and diamond ornaments. The male members f the houses prefer to wear traditional Bengali attires like “Dhoti (a long piece of cloth that is wrapped around the waist, passed between the legs and tucked in at the waistline.) and Panjabi ( a long Kurta and top part of the dhoti). Now, the people of Kolkata generally wear western outfits or modern Indian attires. So, watching people in traditional attires and performing puja rituals is a quite attractive event.

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Bong Beauties: The ladies of Dutta Family watching puja in Thakur dalan. The married women of these houses are used to call ” Bonedi barir bou” in Bangali.

This post is only the glimpse of the pujas of “Bonedi” families.  Here, I tried to show the environment and ambiance of the bonedi houses. It is for the people who are not aware of the term “bonedi” or don’t have any idea about this type of Durga Puja. I will come with more information about the locations and the rituals of those houses with the pictures to my future blog posts based on this series. So, keep your eyes here for more stories of the Durga Puja of Bengali Bonedi houses.

Flavours of Local Festival

Flavours of Local Festival

The biggest festival of Kolkata (India) is Durga Puja ( worship of Goddes Durga). When the rest of India is celebrating Navratri and fasting, Kolkata is celebrating Durga Puja and feasting. As a bong, I also enjoy the flavour of this festival. This is mainly 4 days long festival. But, in Kolkata, it is celebrated throughout a week. Here, I just want to portray some glimpse of this local festival as an entry of WPCLocal .

The worship of the idol of  Goddess Durga goes for 4 days in the time of the festival. The idols are made up of clay and bamboo sticks. Then, painting and decorations are performed over the idol of clay. During the time of the festival, idols are placed in temporary temples, which are called Pandal. The pandals are built with bamboo, clothes, and plaster of paris. The Bengalis (bong) are very creative in making of those Pandals and idols.  Number of competitions on these creative works have been going on  all over the Bengal including Kolkata.

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Local car parking in the festive night.
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The purifying fire of incense sticks.

Igniting the incense sticks or Agarbati is one of the most important Indian rituals of performing any Puja.

 

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Immersion of idols in the local river.

In the last day of Puja, the idols are immersed in the local river and the festival is ended with the hope of performing it in the next year.

 

 

The Art of making an Idol of Goddess Durga

The Art of making an Idol of Goddess Durga

It’s been a long time I’m irregular in the blogosphere. Blogging is like oxygen to me. Hence, you can say I spent these days with a very little amount of oxygen. The reason of this irregularity is my relocation.  I have shifted from Hyderabad to my hometown, Kolkata. Shifting from a city to another city and setting up everything there is really a hectic job. Anyway, somehow, I managed the things to some extent and now I’m feeling suffocated without my “oxygen”.  I ‘d like to thank my fellow bloggers, who came and visited my blog, liked the posts, left their valuable thoughts here and followed my blog  in spite of my such irregularity. I regret that I missed so many exciting posts of yours. Hope, I’ll cover up those slowly in future.

Biggest festival of Kolkata:

It’s a great blessing to me that I came back to Kolkata at the time when one can see the ultimate joy of the city of joy. The whole city is now excited to celebrate its biggest festival. That is Durga Puja.  It’s 4 days long festival of Goddess Durga Puja. But, Bongs of Kolkata are celebrating it almost over a month. It’s started from the shopping of new dresses and ornaments, cleaning of houses, searching partner for Puja fun to the pandals (a temporary temple to place the goddess idol) hopping and dancing at the immersion of Goddess idol. Making goddess idols and pandals for placing the idols are the exclusive sign of Bengali’s artistic nature.  You cannot understand how much effort, art, and dedications are involved within it until you see it in your eyes.

Making of the idol of Goddess Durga:

The idol of goddess Durga is created with the clay and color on the basic structure of bamboo and straw. And it is done so diligently and methodically by the artisans that it looks like the real or living goddess.  I took a trip to the shop, where the idols are built, with my camera to catch the art and the dedication of the artists behind the exquisite piece of creation.  These are some photos which I took during that  time.

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The event of giving eyes to the idol of Goddess
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An artist’s touch on the idol.
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The reflection of the idol of Goddess Durga in the eyeball of the lion’s idol.
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The colors that create magic on the idols.

 

Look Up- Religious Harmony

Look Up- Religious Harmony

If what’s ahead scares you, If what’s behind hurts you, then look up above. God will guide you. This week’s entry of my WP- Weekly Photo Challenge-Look Up is  Religeous Harmony. God is everywhere. I just displayed two of His Home- Mosque and Temple.

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Mecca Mosque, Hyderabad, India.
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Dakshineswar Temple, Kolkata, India.

 

Where money is valueless…

Where money is valueless…

It is the place which is the symbol of Universal faith.  It respects the diversity of all religions. It believes religion is not going to the Church; or putting marks on the forehead; or dressing in a peculiar fashion. Religion is the principle, which is the highest knowledge of spirit.  It cannot be acquired from book, nor can it be bought. It has to be realized. It means Realization of Self as Spirit. Yes, it is the place of the persons who realized their Self, the Monks.  The Monks are controlling the place and it is open for all. The place is Belur Math. It is situated near Kolkata in India. It is located on the banks of the serine Ganges. It was established and conceptualized by Swami Vivekananda, the renowned disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and who took the Hindu religion to the Western world.

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Photoo Courtesy: Belur Math

The temple of Belur Math is regarded as  “A symphony of Architecture”  and one of the architectural wonders of India. It is designed on the concept of Universal faith.The main temple is built in a way, that it resembles a temple,  a mosque, and a Church if it is watched from different positions.You can see here the architectural signature of  various countries and religions of the Earth.  To know more, you can read this article, Belur Math.

Whenever I visit Kolkata, I go there. The river Ganges, the serenity of the environment and the meditation room where the idol of Sri Ramakrishna is placed and everything  within the monastery make me feel  so divine that I never want to come back again. But, the duties, responsibilities call me badly to do back into the worldly activities.

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The Ganges

Taking a picture is prohibited there. Though I have managed somehow to get just about the images.  The Campus of this monastery is about  40 acres and that is very well managed and decorated with the garden of beautiful flowers. There is a bookstore of Vedanta philosophy in the front main temple. The books published by the Monks are also sold there. I bought nine books from there. The books include Upanishad (philosophy of Hinduism), a book on Christianity and a volume on Buddhism. I love to experience the precepts of all faiths.  There is also a custom of offering lunch to everyone. I also took that. The lunch was awesome though it a vegetarian dish.

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Temple from the bank of the river ganges

One thing, I noticed there, is discipline. Everywhere you go in the campus, discipline is a must. All are maintained by the Monks , who are locally called Maharaj. The rules are not breakable even with the money. You have no option to buy any of these. If you go there with a wallet full of money, you must think your money is valueless. Money is not required there except you don’t go to buy books. But, there is a center for donation. If you wish, you can donate money. There is no obligation for money. Monks are living there and performing  selfless social welfare for the state. They need more money to perform their duties. It is the Headquarter of Ramkrishna maths and Missions of India.

belur side view
photo courtesy: Maadurga wall paper

Swami Ji ( Swami Vivekananda) established this beautiful monastery  after enthralling the West with his inspirational speech on Universal Brotherhood of all religion. His followers are still maintaining his ideology and performing humanitarian and social activities throughout the world. Just want to finish this article with a quote of Swami Ji.

Everything that is excellent will come when this sleeping soul is aroused to self conscious activity.

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