Sovabazar Rajbari Durga Puja - A Tryst With Heritage And History

Sovabazar Rajbari, the royal palace, has the perfect rendition of history with heritage. It is famous for the iconic Durga Puja, started way back in the year 1757. It is the first Durga Puja celebration held in Kolkata. 

Sovabazar Rajbari Durga Puja
Sovabazar Rajbari Durga Puja
Pics Courtesy - Instagram/travelpiesengupta

For more than two hundred and fifty years, royal people have preserved their rich cultural heritage through generations. The traditional authenticity and extravagant ambiance make the whole celebration so noteworthy.

Sovabazar Rajbari History 

Raja Nabakrishna Deb was not born with a silver spoon and lived his early life in modesty. He started his career as a job of munshi and later taught the Parsi language to Robert Clive. This acquaintance made him rose to power and fame. Once almost all of north Calcutta was owned by the family. He earned the title of Maharaja in 1766.

First Durga Puja Celebration At Kolkata

Raja NabaKrishna Deb started the Puja after the British defeated Siraj-ud-Daulah, the Nawab Of Bengal, at the Battle of Plassey. This battle became the doorway for the British empire in India, and Bengal came into its shackles and lost its charm for the next 200 years. 

Top British officials Sir Warren Hastings, the first governor-general of India, and Lord Robert Clive, were in the list of invitees during this festival. 

Later many Royal houses followed this tradition of Durga Puja as it became a status symbol.

Also Read: Durga Puja In Bangalore - Famous Pandals To Visit

The Legacy Of Sovabazar Rajbari

In his early life, Raja NabaKrishna Deb had no son, so he adopted his nephew Gopimohan Deb. After a while, his son was born Raja Rajkrishna Deb. He built a new palace for his son and started Durga Puja there in 1790. His palaces, known as Chotto rajbari and Boro Rajbari, are located on the opposite side of Raja Naba Krishna Street, Shyam Bazar. Since that time, Durga Puja is celebrated at both the Rajbari.

This charming mansion has a significant historical background.

Once you enter the courtyard, you get goosebumps as this is the same place where once dignitaries like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Thakur Ramkrishna, Sister Nivedita, Debendra Nath Tagore had set their foot on. 

Swami Vivekananda was felicitated in this same courtyard after he returned from the Chicago Parliament of Religions in 1897, in which he introduced Hinduism to the world.

Sovabazar Rajbari Family Members

The Deb family is known for its contribution to the Bengal Renaissance. 

Raja Gopi Mohan Deb cofounded Hindu College that later became one of the top colleges of India, Presidency University. 

Raja Radha Kanta Deb was another scholar from the royal family. He advocated for female education but was against the social reform movement led by Raja RamMohan Roy, who wanted to end the conservative Sati customs. Although The Deb family never practiced Sati custom, he was an orthodox Hindu and never wanted the British empire to interfere with the Hindu religion. 

Sovabazar Rajbari Durga Puja

There is no change in Puja customs and rituals since its inception. Each year they follow the same size and pattern of the idol.

A single structure for the idol called Ekchala means all under one roof is created that can not be detached. 

Embellished in Daker Saj, Idol gives a grand look. There is an interesting story associated with Daker Saj, the foil used to make apparel for the idols. In the olden days, this silver foil used to arrive from Germany by post. Since it used to come by post(Dak in Bengali), hence the name Daker Saj.

Their Lion idol is Ghotokmuki Singha, the body of a lion and face of a horse.

At Rajbari, Unlike many other Bonedi Bari Pujo, only sweets are offered to the idols.

During the Sandhi Pujo, there has to be pin-drop silence. In the British era, they used to shoot canons to mark the beginning and end of the Sandhi Puja. Nowadays, Blank fires have replaced canons.

Also Read: Bengali Dhaki - The Traditional Drummer Who Amplifies The Festive Mood In Durga Puja

Durga Puja Traditions On Dashami

Sovabazar Rajbari Durga Puja
Sovabazar Rajbari Durga Puja 
Pics Courtesy - Instagram/sumanjoy_biswas

There is no such tradition of Sindoor Khela in Shobhabazar Rajbari. But nowadays, the ritual has been incorporated, and the women do enjoy Sindoor Khela.

Bengalis worshipped Maa Durga, the Hindu Goddess, in the form of the daughter. At Rajbari same custom prevails.

 As per the Hindu tradition, when the daughter is leaving for her in-law's place, she needs to settle the debt with her parents. 

On Doshomi(the 10th-day of Navratri), they follow the tradition of Kankanjali. In a silver platter, some gold, a silver sindoor container, and rice, etc. are placed. The priest will place a ladder in front of the deity and climb on it. Most elderly married women from the family stand behind the idol and spread the drape of her Benarasee saree on the front side. The priest who acts as the representative of the deity will throw the contents of the platter behind.

Another tradition is that when the daughter is leaving for her husband's place. The son-in-law has to be informed of her arrival. Neelkantho means the blue-throated and is also a symbol of Lord Shiva(Maa Durga's husband). In the recent past, A pair of Indian roller birds (Neelkantho) used to be freed as Lord Shiva's messenger to deliver the news in Kailasha, Lord Shiva's abode. 

Under the endangered species act, for the past few years, the use of the bird is banned. Now they make a pair of The Indian Roller bird using clay. On Dashami, they are put in the cage and immersed in the Ganges with the idol. 

There is an unwritten rule that their deity will be immersed first before any other in Kolkata.

On Vijaya Dasami, Diety is taken out in a grand procession and taken to the River Ganga for bisorjon or immersion. 

On a plank, the deity is placed, supported by a pair of boats. Boats sailed to the mid of the Ganga river, where they slowly part away, and the idol immerse into the Ganges. That marks the symbolic return of the goddess to her marital home in the Himalaya.

Also Read: Durga Puja 2020: Celebration In Times Of Coronavirus Pandemic

How To Visit Sovabazar Rajbari

This place will give you a vintage feeling of North Kolkata(old Kolkata). The palace is open for local people only for five days during the iconic Durga puja held in the autumn season. If you want to have a grand palatial wedding, then the good news is that you can rent this iconic royal palace for weddings. 

This Pujo must be on your list if you are visiting Kolkata during Durga Puja. It is within walking distance from the Sovabazar metro station.

Sovabazar Rajbari Wiki

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