BY DEBAJYOTI CHAKRABORTY
BAHARAN ( EAST BURDWAN ) , 5 OCTOBER 2022
Kolkata’s Durgapujo have received UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage tag and the grand celebration is going on this year . But there are a number of Durga pujas held in several villages and mofussil towns of West Bengal, many of them have crossed more than 300 or more years. These family run pujas can not be compared with the high budget Durga Pujas with corporate sponsorship in Kolkata but in bonediana they are still unique in many ways and are a truly intangible cultural heritage of rural Bengal.
Most of these pujas are held by old zamindar families having received zamindari rights under nababi regime or permanent settlement under British rule.
For instance, the 349 year old Durgotsav of the Ghosh family of Baharan, a village Ketugram in the District of East Burdwan, about 200 kilometres away from Kolkata.. Nestled amidst the lush green surroundings of the village which has been bisected by the road, this puja is unique because every day before the Durga Puja five days the priest has to conduct homage to Narayana or Sridhar. The Sridhar (Narayan) is the kulguru of the estate and every day for the 365 days of the year nityasebas take place.
The Ghosh family are vaishnavas and no animal sacrifice takes place during the Durga Pujas unlike other century old Durga Pujas in the districts of West Bengal. Talking to The Travel and Tourism Times, Mr. Sumit Ghosh, a senior member of the Ghosh family said that, ”Our family’s Durga puja will be celebrating 350 th year in 2023.”
“Started by our ancestors who were senior employees in the court of Murshidabad Nawab, we are continuing this tradition with a lot of love and care. Our family members arrive from every nook and corner of India to join the celebration. It is a five day fun- filled festival with Pashpanjali , Arati with drumbits and great traditional bengali food – a great family get together,” added Mr. Sumit Ghosh.
With the Unesco’s award, the Durga Puja is back with great glory erasing the bad memories of the pandemic hit the past two years and the next generation is excited. Most of them are unable to come due to their profession and are requesting to send them live video coverage of this year’s Durgotsabh through Facebook and promising to attend the mega upcoming 350 th year Durga Puja celebrations.
“ The Facebook and Whatsapp posts on our ancestral Durga Puja has generated wide burst of interest not only from the Ghosh family network spread across India and abroad but from bengali community living all over the world to know more about how the old zamindar families are still continuing to celebrating Durga Puja with sincerity and affection,” says Robin Ghosh, another senior member of the Ghosh family of Baharan.
Every morning waking up early and after bathing wearing new dresses and chatting in the thakurdalan with the relatives and reminiscing about the past and childhood makes everybody nostalgic along with the hot cup of tea in earthen pots and having the typical Durga Puja village made breakfast meals. The dhunuchi dances and sindoor khela are star attractions and the cultural shows of the kids.
The five day annual Durga Puja celebration ends today with the immersion of the ekchala idol of the Goddess Durga in the nearby waterbody and marks the end of not only the biggest carnival of Baharan but also the annual reunion of the family members who are located in different parts of the world due to the profession and unites every year to carry forward the legacy and glorious heritage Durga Puja festival of their ancestors, which began since the time of the Nawabs.