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Balaram Bose Ghat Road - The first community puja

The ‘baroari’ puja of Bhowanipur Sanatan Dharmatsahini Sabha on Balaram Bose Ghat Road in Bhowanipore is the oldest community Durga Puja in Kolkata. The first community Durga Puja was held here in 1910 when the city was addressed as “Calcutta” and was the capital of British India. Since then the Durga Puja  has been  celebrating without any break with tremendous solemnity and splendor. Last year Bhowanipur Sanatan Dharmatsahini Sabha esteemed their Centenary Celebration. For the first time in the history of this puja, a professional has been hired to think up a theme while light magicians had been invited  from Chandannagar for the gorgeous illumination. Some of the great men initiated to bring Bengal’s greatest festival out of the confines of the courtyards of babus to street corners.

The puja, which has never courted the spotlight, was started by Khagendranath Shastri, president Geeta Mahasabha and was supported by luminaries like Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, writer Premendra Nath Mitra, mathematics teacher Keshav Chandra Nag and actress Molina Devi over the years. The venue of the puja has a history, having seen a double satidaha in 1829 when it was a burning ghat. A stone plaque commemorating the immolation of Sati and Debi, two daughters of the Mukherjee family that owned the ghat then, now rests at Indian Museum. The Calcutta Municipal Corporation has declared the site a heritage spot.

Flanking the ekchala Durga on each side will be the 10 dashamahavidyas, or the 10 forms that Sati took to convince Shiva to let her go on her own to her father Daksha’s yajna. The entry to the ghat will be turned into a makeshift temple and at the exit will be placed the dashavatar, or the 10 incarnations of Vishnu. The puja has a tradition of jatra, kirtan, Chandigaan and shehnai recitals. The centenary schedule includes a musical evening, a football match involving celebrities, an eye camp and a blood donation campaign. During the four days of pujas, the sabha distributes free clothes and garments to the poor and needy thereby humbly attempting to eradicate social inhomogenity. The organisation also takes up many social activities rouns the year like: free medical check-up camps, cataract detection and surgery, blood donation camps through eminent organisations.

During the Centenary celebration (2009) the puja was being celebrated with the same pomp and gaiety, to offer a perfect tribute to the torch bearers who enkindled the flame of 'First Sarbojanin Durga Puja' of Kolkata and thereby stamp an incredible impression to the heritage of Kolkata. To make this endeavour of ours a grand success, we request and appeal to one and all, to render their all possible supports to translate our dreams into reality. If you had missed the bus this year, please make a note for the coming year. The Bhowanipur Sanatan Dharmatsahini Sabha puja is the must visit puja. This is special, not only for its presentation, but also for the deep rooted tradition, it has been holding since more than 100 years.
Balaram Bose Ghat Road - The first community puja Balaram Bose Ghat Road - The first community puja Reviewed by Web Strategy on October 29, 2010 Rating: 5

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