The Old Durga Puja by Seal Bari of Chorabagan | WBRi Kolkata Bonedi Barir Pujo Report

Kolkata's Seal Bari and their Durga Puja

Calcutta, Oct 1, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / IBNS) The Seal's of Chorabagan arrange one of the oldest and most important festivals in the city. It is said that the it was 150 years back that the durga puja tradition was started by Babu Ram Chand Seal.

Initially from Gutiabazar of Hooghly, he shifted to Calcutta in the year 1849 and acquired properties in Chorbagan

A successful businessman Babu Ram Chand Seal imported clothes from Manchester and exported rice, mercury and vermilion to various countries in South-East Asia. He was a religious man and was a great devotee of his Gurudev(religious master). It was at the inspiration of his second wife, Khatramani Dassi that he first organised Durga Puja at his master's residence at Goswami Lane at Bagbazar in Calcutta.

For five consecutive years Durga Puja was performed at that place.

In the year 1856 Ram Chand started Durga Puja at his residence at Chorbagan. Since then his family members have been performing the Puja at that venue.

Traditional rituals are the part of any family and this family too is no exception, the Seal family Durga Puja is performed traditionally with great devotional fervor. Old rituals like "Brihanandikeshar Puran" are performed by the members of the family.

The Seal family follows 'Vaisnab' philosophy, so fruits or animal sacrifices are not offered to the Goddess. The first shape to the beautiful Durga Goddess is givenon the auspicious day of Rathajatra in the month of June/July annually.

All forms of articles and goods needed to perform the rituals are bought on Radhastami day in the month of August/September every year. Interestingly, on this day several shops are set up at the premise of the family residence.

The traditional rituals follows it one after the other, 'Bodhon' commenses on the day after Mahalaya and continues upto Sasthi. The puja is performed by five pujaris (priests).

In addition to the traditional puja on Saptami, Astami, Navami and Vijaya Dasami, Kumari and Sadhoba pujas are performed on the Navami day. On Astami the holy cow is worshipped in addition to a special puja at the Ganges, adding a special point to the rituals followed by the family.

During the festival days, one member of the family offers flowers made of gold to the Goddess, every day. On the last day of the puja that is on Dashami, immersion of the Goddess Durga takes place in the iconic Babughat in Kolkata.

But before the immersion a symbolic ritual is performed. A mirror image of the devi is glimpsed in a tub full of water that is placed in front of the deity. The festival days become all the more colourful and vibrant for the family members as they perform on each and every evening.

Dancing and short plays performed by the members not only entertain the members of the family but also the visitors who visit their house during this period.

Offerings of the Sandhi puja are sent to the family of Gurudev of Ram Chand at Bagbazar.

Since the family follows the vaishnav philosophy they abstain from taking non-vegetarian food from Mahalaya to Vijaya Dashami.

But incidentally it is not only the Durga Puja festival that is celebrated by this family with so much pomp and glory, the 'Dolutasav' festival is also organized by the family for the past 144 years.

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