Let’s take a journey back in time. To the days before Durga Puja meant ‘theme-pujo-competitions’ and queueing up in never-ending lines. We’re talking about the days of the oldest Durga Pujas held by the bonedi families of Kolkata.
From rich rituals and close family bonding, bonedi bari pujos are the original hosts of Durga Puja in Bengal, so this year we tracked down the works of Kolkata Shrabanti Mitra to share with you the beauty of Top 7 Bonedi Bari Pujos in Kolkata.
1. Dutta Bari, Balaram Dey Street
Balaram Dey Street Datta Bari is an off shoot of Hath Khola Datta Bari. This puja began in the year 1882 and till date the 6th descendant of the family is carrying the tradition forward
2. Baishnab Das Mullick Bari
The Durga Puja here started some 225 years back. Hailing from Chinsurah, the family used to deal in gold. It is said that the courtyard here Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansadev had one of his spiritual experiences in 1883
3. Khelat Ghosh’s House
The Thakurdan here is one of the largest palatial buildings in Kolkata with a grand dancing hall which has now been converted into Khelat Ghosh Memorial Hall. The puja here is more than 300 years old
4. Laha Bari
The puja held here dates back to 200 years. The idol is known as ‘Hara Gouri’ and very different from the Mahisasurmardini form.
5. Shibkrishna Dawn Bari
The Puja here began in the year 1840. The tradition is carried on since. It is said that the trend of adorning the idol with “Daak er Shaaj” is said to have originated from this family tradition
6. Badan Chandra Roy House
The Puja at this palatial three-storied house in Colootola is more than 150 years old.
7. Sardar Bari
This puja started in the year 1942. The Sardar Barir pujo is 74 years old and brings the family together every year.
We caught up with Shrabanti Mitra the ace photographer heading the project of capturing this rich heritage on Bonedi Bari Pujos in Kolkata
Q. Can you tell us about your photography project regarding Bonedi Bari Pujos
A. I began this project with the purpose of recollecting and re-discovering these grand old houses and showcasing their rich heritage and unique way of celebrating Durga Puja to the world.
Bonedi bari pujos is the way the tradition of pujas came into the city. Sadly though, these days, people are too busy pandal hopping to appreciate the serenity behind the tradition of pujo.
Q. How long did the project take? When did you begin?
A. I began the project in 2014. Since then, every year on Panchami and Shashti I frequent these houses.
My shoot schedule goes according to their rituals. When they start I start and when they stop I stop.
I’m always on the lookout for more such houses. I’m thankful to my friend and collegue Debtanu Akuli for being a marrise support in this project
Q. Which was the 1st house you discovered
A. Sardar Bari, near Hati Bagan Sarbojanin pandal
Q. What is it about Bonedi bari pujos that attracted you to it?
A. The rituals, the way the family comes together during Pujo, this is what attracted me to it. Behind every Bonedi bari Pujo there is something interesting
Q. How was the experience of shooting these festivals?
A. I’ve had multiple experiences. Some houses are welcoming and make me a part of their rituals. While some houses don’t bother or like the attention.
However, now that their attraction is increasing, the new generation is more enthusiastic about it.
Q. Which house has the best experience of Durga Puja?
A. Datta Bari on Balaram Dey Street has been the best experience for me. Primarily for the way people there welcomed me each time. They may not be the richest in terms of grandeur but they sure are the richest in culture – truly Bonedi.