Shiva accompanies Durga on her annual homecoming

Durga comes as the peaceful daughter with her husband Shiva at this traditional puja

The idol at the Pyne residence

Durga is the daughter, Shiva the son-in-law. This belief is behind Serampore’s Pyne family’s nearly 400 year old Durga Puja. The children, of course, accompany their parents on the annual homecoming.  Hara-Gauri is worshipped in this house instead of Mahisasurmardini.  In the pages of history, one is likely to find that King Surat, in the Markandeya Purana, worshipped this form of the goddess where Durga stands next to Shiva. She has two hands, does not carry any weapons neither is she sitting on her carrier, the lion. Shiva and Durga are seated on a white bull.

The deity is a special attraction for devotees who visit the Pyne residence at Serampore’s Goswamipara. Durga is decked up in traditional ‘Daaker Saaj’ and she represents peace.  The Pyne family history says that their predecessor, Nityananda Pyne started the puja at the residence nearly 400 years ago. At that time, puja happened on  a ‘pata’ (an image of the goddess painted on an earthen plate), but in later years, idol worship started in this family. The Pyne’s are gold merchants and over time, the family members have moved out of the ancestral home and  are settled in different places in India and abroad. However, everyone gathers at the ancestral home during Durga Puja.

At one time, Durga Puja was held in both spring and in autumn. However, now only the autumn festival is observed. Puja is performed following  Vaishnava rituals. The deity is offered luchi bhog. Idol-making starts in the month of Baisakh in the Bengali calendar, after the kathamo (bamboo frame) puja on a special day in the same month. Within eight days of Rath Yatra, the deity’s face has to be made and the finished idol is welcomed through ‘baran’ on the 12th lunar day before Mahalaya. Sashthi is ‘adhibas’ after which the rest of the puja is conducted following all the traditional rituals of the household.