Do you ever try to locate Natmandir, where Rani Rashmoni begun a Durga Puja in 1790. Unfortunately most of the answer will be bounced back with a ‘No’. Passing through the rush of S.N.Banerjee Road we can hardly locate Natmandir. But this time don’t miss it. Try to visit this ‘Banedi Barir Pujo’.
But one reality should be unwrapped first. Most of the people know that the Durga puja in Rani Rashmoni Kuthi was being initiated by Rani Rashmoni herself. But no, this is not true. This old aged traditional Durga puja had been commenced by Shri. Pritiram Das, the in-law father of Rani Rashmoni , who famously known as Pritiram Maad(r) , that’s why this house was known as the house of Maad(r)
After being married to Rani Rashmoni, her husband Shri. Rajchandra Das, son of Pritiram Das, started celebrating Durga Puja. During his time, the name and fame of Durga puja had started flourishing throughout the then Calcutta. ‘Rani Maa’ — as she was addressed by her coevals — was thoroughly committed to traditional performances such as Jatra and Kabigaan. “She used to call performers from various parts of Bengal to showcase their talents during the festivity,” says Prosun Hazra, a successor of Mathur Mohan Biswas, the illustrious son-in-law of Rani Rashmoni.
Shri. Shubhranshu Hazra, one of the descendants of Rani Rashmoni intimated, “It is known that Prince Dwarakanath Thakur and some other eminent personalities often visited this pujo”. Rani maa allowed local fishermen to do tax-free fishing in the Ganges and this step of Rani made her as Goddess Durga to the poor folk.
Then after the demise of Rajchandra Das, Rani Rashmoni had been continuing the pujo with the same devotion. But Rani maa wanted to shoulder over the huge responsibility to her Jamata (son-in-law) Shri. Mathura Mohan Biswas. The Purohit of the Thakurdalaan of Rani Rashmoni Kuthi revealed another glory, “Once Shri shri. Ramkrishna Paramhansha Dev came here with a disguise of ‘Sakhi’(lady) to adore Durga Maa. Nobody could recognize him in his ‘Sakhi look’. On that evening, when the puja was over, Mathura Mohan babu asked his wife Smt. Jagadamba, “Who was that lady swinging chamor, standing beside you?” Jagadamba smiled and replied, “Didn’t you get him? that sakhi was none other then our ‘Chhoto Chatujjye’”, Mathura babu astounded.
These are the glories evolves with this house. Now let us reveal the tradition, which has been equally solemnized by the present day’s generation of Rani maa. The rituals of worshipping maa Durga is distinct to some extent. The puja is being solemnized by following ‘Brihot Nandikeshar Puraan’. As per ‘Navaratna bidhan, Durga puja commences on ‘Pratipad’ and ends after Nabami puja. During the days of festivity, if you step in the courtyard of Rani Rashmoni Kuthi, will find the devotional ambiance. The chant of Stotras, hymns of Madhusudan Mantra, Durga naam, etc. Shalogram Shila is being adored with Tulsi Leaf. “The traditional Kumari pujo is still on; however, the practice of animal sacrifice was stopped in 2003,” says Swapan Kr. Biswas, another successor of Rani Maa.
The door of Rani Rashmoni Kuthi is opened for all. The ‘Bhog’, consists of Luchi, Bhaja, Ledygini, Khaja, goja, is prepared for distribution to the guests and devotees. “Sindoor Khela” is one of the colorful events to watch. The idol has been articulated by Shri. Laalu Chitrakar and his brother Shri. Dulal Chitrakar.
Key persons: Shri. Swapan Kumar Biswas/ Shri. Shubhranshu Hazra.