Cel­e­brate in Style


India Today - - KOLKATA - by Malini Ban­er­jee

Ul­ti­mate guide to the pu­jos this sea­son

TO MANY, DURGA PUJA in Kolkata has come to mean wad­ing through traf­fic to get to the pan­dals teem­ing with peo­ple. But in an­other part of Kolkata, pu­jas are all about tra­di­tions that are nearly cen­turies old. Puja fes­tiv­i­ties in fam­ily homes have an in­ti­macy that is miss­ing in the Baraowari Pujo (pub­lic funded pu­jas).

Cal­cutta Walks, one of the first com­pa­nies to host city walks in Kolkata hosts a Bonedi Bari Pujo walk ev­ery year. They take tourists to a select few of these iconic home pu­jas where one can watch the fes­tiv­i­ties up close while be­ing re­galed with sto­ries of their ori­gin and vi­gnettes of their past. “There is a say­ing about how god­dess Durga comes to wear her jew­ellery in Jo­rasanko Dawn house. The fam­ily was known to

have bought not just a lot of gold but also di­a­monds and emer­alds from Europe in their hey­days,” says Anir­ban Dutta, an ex­plorer from Cal­cutta Walks.

The walk be­gins early in the morn­ing on a cho­sen day with ex­plor­ers meet­ing out­side Girish Park Metro Sta­tion. Walk­ers are then taken to the fa­mous pu­jas nearby, in­clud­ing two, at the Dawn house­hold, the two Deb fam­ily pu­jas, Pathurigha­ta’s Khe­lat Ghosh’s pujo and Shob­habazar Raj Bari. Each fam­ily cel­e­brates in a dif­fer­ent style, with dif­fer­ent rit­u­als and one gets a taste of the real thing up close. At the end of the walk, ex­plor­ers are served a typ­i­cal vege­tar­ian bhog or meal.

While mon­u­ments and his­tory books re­main, in­tan­gi­bles like these that are part of the city’s her­itage are slowly los­ing cur­rency. “We had more than 100 mem­bers par­tic­i­pat­ing in the puja fes­tiv­i­ties be­fore. Now with nu­clear fam­i­lies and peo­ple mov­ing out of the city our num­bers have dwin­dled to 25,” says Pashu­pati Roy, the 79-year- old head of the Roy house­hold in Colootola near Burrabazar. The fam­ily will be cel­e­brat­ing its 161st Durga Puja this year.

ON OC­TO­BER 15 -19

PRICE `3500 per per­son WEB cal­cut­tawalks.com

AT Roy Bari, Kabi­raj Row Lane, (op­po­site school of trop­i­cal medicine)

Cover pho­to­graph by SUBIR HALDER Wardrobe NEE & OINK Make up MALAY ROY Lo­ca­tion ROY BARI

Cal­cutta Walks ex­plorer Anir­ban Dutta (third from left) with tourists at a Pujo bari

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