Sovabazar Rajbari - a glimpse of a Royal Celebration





1757……a distinct day for the people of Bengal as well as for the British. We know all about the battle of Plassy, through which the British Imperialists clawed on the bosom of the bengalees. But history always needs war, blood, betray to create another history. Of them, few incidents are being imprinted in our textbook, and a few breath behind the curtain.

After the demise ofShri. Ramcharan Dev, his son NabaKrishna was being ensured to learn Urdu, Parsian, Arabic and English by his mother. Soon he adapted these languages and being appointed as a Persian teacher of Warren Hastings in 1750. This initiation brought Nabakrishna closer to the British high command.  Nabakrishna was appointed as a Munshi (Clerk cum interpreter) of governor Drake and started sharing his intelligence with the British on foreign relation, which was a great support for the establishment British Power in India. In the battle of Plassy Nabakrishna carried out confedential work for the British East India Company.

Nawab Siraj was defeated……The celebration was all around in the British Colony. The captain of the  British crew wanted a grand ‘Thanks giving Ceremony’, but the only Church in Calcutta had been demolished by Siraj ud daula. When Nabakrishna came to know about the desire of Lord Clive, he counseled ” You may offer thanks to the goddess feet at my Durga Puja”. Instantly Clive replied with grave voice, “But I am a Christian”. Nabakrishna eased him down and cunningly said, “ That can be managed.


Raja Nabakrishna Deb initiated to observe Durga Puja in the newly constructed  Shobhabazar  Rajbari  (king's palace) in Kolkata (then Calcutta) in 1757 in honor of Lord Clive. The famous Baaiji (Dancing Girl) Niki Baai was appointed to entertain Lord Clive. The religious scruples fell by wayside. At Durga dalaan when Purohit uttered the mantras with deep devotion, the Englishmen attended dance party, dined on beef and ham with whisky . Thenafter this puja had become famous as a “Company Pujo”. What ever Nabakrishna set a pattern for the pujo , became a fashion and a statue symbol among the upcoming merchants class of Calcutta. The presence of  higher officials of the British East India Company became an index of prestige. Nabakrishna organized the conferences of learned men in his Rajbari and patronised many musicians. Harekrishna Dirghangi, Nitai Baisnab and other kabials enjoyed his hospitality. In ancient time , a few traditional Durga puja had been celebrated with solemnity and opulence . But in Jorasako area three families were in limelight. Even today, people whisper “Maa comes in ”Daw house” to ware jewelries, takes her lunch at “Mitra Bari” and finally goes to “Shovabajar Rajbari” to enjoy music.

As Nabakrishna was not being blessed with any issue , he adopted a child (son of his brother)namely Gopi Mohan Dev, but soon after a miracle had happened. He was blessed with a son, who is known as Raja Rajkrishna Deb. The adopted son Gopi Mohan Deb was famous for his Music sense. Gopi Mohan Deb had also adopted a child , namely Raja Radha Kanta Deb, but Raja. Ramkrishna Deb has eight sons.

Shri. Soumik Deb, one of the successors of Nabakrishna, intimated  “In Shobha Bazar Rajbari, Durga pooja is celebrated with extreme enthusiasm and fervor at this place, every year. The essence of Durga Puja Begins with Kathamo Puja, which is scheduled on the day of Rathayatra. Then onward the the making of idols take place in the precinct of Shobhabazar Rajbari. As we  are not Brahmins, the rituals of “Annyo Bhog” is not practiced. In lieu of that, we adore with ”Mithaai Bhog” which is decorated in the ‘Big Thal (Radius 3.5 feet)and offer to the Durga Maa. The “Utkalbasi” (people from Orissa) make all the sweet product”….”These confectioners live in Shobhabazar Rajbari to make sweets throughout the year. We  perform daily pujo for their “Kuldevta “ , Radha Gobinda Jiu”. Soumik babu added. During Durga Pujo, many devotees from different parts of the city come here to participate in this holy festival. The beautiful ambience of the palace and the holy spirit of people towards this celebration certainly captivate you. Clay image of Durga used during Durga puja in a traditional Benagli household in northern Calcutta. The painted backdrop or chalchitra tells the story of Devi and her incarnations. The image is decorated with chand mala or moon garlands made of shola or pith. The family member have maintaining their primitive customs . The ritual of Bodhan is done on the eve of Krishnanabami. . Kola Bow or Nabapatrika is given a pre-dawn bath by Debs. This is an ancient ritual of worshiping nine types of plants. They are together worshiped as a symbol of the goddess. On Saptami, they sacrifice Chalkumro (Type of Pumpkin) . The hymns of Ved path and Madhusudan Naamjap fill the entire premises of Shobhabazar Rajbari  . In the olden time, Debs’ used to fire Canon (The canon, used in the battle of Plassy)during the august moment of Sandhikkshan. 108 pradips are lit up on the stem of the Banana Tree. Sugercane, along with Chalkumro are sacrificed. The entire male members eat veg dishes on Ashtami and married women do the same on Shashti and Ashtami. Shri. Soumik Deb said “The speciality of Maha Nabami is the sacrifice of nine thing . “Singi Maachh” is one of them. That is why, we do not eat Singi Maachh in our daily appetite. There is no such tradition of “sindoor Khela” in the chronology of Shobhabazar rajbari. But now a days the women do enjoy Sindoor Khela.”



Shri. Soumik Deb cherished , “After seeing Durga Maa’s face in the mirror, Purohit welcomes maa, after that the ritual of “Kanakanjali” is performed .Then the idol is carried on shoulder to the Ganga River for immersion.” He added, “ This is why the dead body of the royal is carried on hand , instead of shoulders.”  In the recent past, Debs’ used to free Nilkantha bird, who carries the massage to Shib the Durga has started the journey towards the Himalaya. When the idol is immersed in the Ganga, Debs’ free another Nilkantha , who carries the massage that Darga has reached in the Himalaya.There are so many thrillers breath in the ‘Antarmahal’ (Inside the palace) of Shobhabazar Rajbari, to know all about one has to step into the precinct of Shobhabazar Rajbari and talk to their successors.

Route Direction :
Shovabazar Rajbari, Kolkata is situated in Shovabazar, north Kolkata. The area is about 6 kms from the city hub which is taken to be Chandni Chowk.Nearest Metro Station is Shovabazar Metro Station. You can  also avail a taxi or a bus to reach there from any part of Kolkata. But it will be better for you if you can take your trip through Metro Railway; in that case you have to get down at Shovabazar Metro Station.