From the hands of the DACOITS to the HOUSE OF DUTTAs'

Madhu-Kaittabha-Vidhvamsi Vidhaatr-Varade Namah
Ruupam Dehi Jayam Dehi Yasho Dehi Dvisso Jahi

Mahissaasura-Nirnaashi Bhaktaanaam Sukhade Namah
Ruupam Dehi Jayam Dehi Yasho Dehi Dvisso Jahi

Nishumbha-Shumbha-Nirnaashi Trailokya-Shubhade Namah
Ruupam Dehi Jayam Dehi Yasho Dehi Dvisso Jahi

Courtsey - Durga

The cottony clouds of Autumn, the Shuili phool, the Kaash bon makes every Bengali nostalgic and reminds that Uma (the other name of Goddess Durga) is home and it is time for celebration. It is time to forget all worries, harshness and embrace love.

Durga Puja, one of the most awaited festivals of the of the most colourful, auspicious and rejoiced festivals. It is popular in North India as "Navratri", the festival of Nine Nights. We celebrate the victory of goddess Durga over Mahisasura, the demon who tried to conquer the Swarglok under his control. We celebrate women empowerment and good over evil. Generally, this festival is celebrated in the months of September or October and people from different parts of the world come together for merrymaking.  Family members who stay away at other times of the year also come back home to vaunt together with their families. This is a festival of homecoming of the Bengalis as well.

This is a 9-day event starting with Mahalaya where the triumph of victory is chanted by the epic famous Birendra Krishna Bhadra early morning at 4 a.m. announcing the end of Pitripokkhyo and the commencement of Debipokkho. Feeling jubilant, we welcome Uma, the beloved daughter of every bengali family. The main puja is performed in the last 5 days of Navratri, i.e., Maha Sasthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and Bijoya Dashami. Previously, this puja was conducted by the aristocrats, popularised as "Bonedi Barir Pujo" where all the people of the area accumulated and enjoyed themselves, however, nowadays this is also conducted by the club authorities and company sponsored.

Generally, there is a historic background of all "Bonedi" families as to how they started the puja and all these families have their specific rituals and norms of conducting the puja. I, belonging to a Bonedi family, would love to share the history of the puja we conduct and also indulge you readers in the celebration.

A long time ago, in the 18th century, dacoits attacked the upper middle class and aristocrats due to which they had to leave their ancestral possession and relocate. Majority of the people took shelter in Chinsurah, Chandannagar and parts of Kolkata and they generally were traders. One such family is the Duttas who relocated from Bardhamman's Kurmun Pasalley village. This is a 250 year puja and is managed by the ninth generation. Here, goddess Singhabahini is worshipped as a form of Durga Maa. This octo-alloy idol was gifted by the dacoits to Ramchandra Dutta. Later, Ramchandra along with his son, Gopicharan started their stay in Chinsurah and thus, the puja started.

The 4-armed Goddess Singhabahini is worshipped along with Goddess Lakshmi, Saraswati, Lord Ganesh, Kartick, Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu. The throne is made of Burma teak wood and is detachable. Every year during the puja, the throne is set up; in other times of the year, the goddess is established in a separate room.

Unlike every year, the puja was conducted at my place, however, due to COVID-19 outbreak, this puja was different. We, along with all the family members, were very concerned and self protected. Not many people gathered together, we maintained social distancing and wore masks. Even all the family members who stay far away could not travel due to lockdown. This Durga puja was more about survival. It was about being grateful that we stay alive fit and healthy. It was about being thankful for the love and care from our loved ones. It was about being with my family under one roof and spending time together. There was no pandal hopping, no dinner plans, no night outs, yet I enjoyed along with my friends chit chatting and gossiping, having homemade food and lots of laughter.

I pray this tough time comes to an end soon and we can live together happily like we did, living a normal life. With lots of love and good wishes for everyone, let's shout out "ASCHE BOCHOR ABAR HOBE!!!"