Gunshots and canonshots to arouse the Devi

Jorasanko Daw Bari is one of the oldest bonedi Pujas of Calcutta after Sovabazar Rajbari and Darjipara Mitra Bari.

Durga idol at Jorasanko Daw Bari

A step into the Jorasanko Daw Bari immediately transports a visitor back in time. Standing at the small but cosy thakurdalan vividly brings back images of a time of grand chandeliers sparkling overhead. Watching the ladies scamper across the thakurdalan or sitting on one side, all dressed uniformly in red bordered garad saris, brings to mind the time-tested traditions of Bengal’s bonedi or aristocratic families. They have seen hard times but they have managed to stick to their traditions simply because of their love and respect for the regulations created by their predecessors. Jorasanko Daw Bari has stepped into the 160th year of Durga Puja this year. The journey has been long and often difficult, but every member of the family enjoys sharing responsibilities for the annual homecoming of Durga. The Puja was started by Narasingha Daw, the first member of the family who had come to Calcutta from Bankura to earn a living. Durga Puja was also started by him at the old house in Jorasanko. The now small thakurdalan evokes a feeling of closeness with the goddess. While idol making starts after the kathamo puja on Rath Yatra, there are specific days for every step of the process. “We follow every ritual as perfectly as possible. No one in our family likes to do away with traditions,” said Anup Daw, a member of the family. Bodhan happens on the day after Mahalaya and puja is held every day at the Bodhan room. As rice cannot be offered to the goddess, ample spread of homemade sweets are offered on each day. The essential sweets in the spread include mihidana, balusahi, dorbesh, ledikeni, goja and also narkel nadu. Milk and sweets comprise the evening offerings to the goddess at the Daw Bari.

Dhuno pora by ladies of the house

The beginning of Sandhi Puja is announced with a gunshot and canon shot, an obvious tradition in a family of gun merchants. The Sandhi Puja naivedya placed right before the goddess is also an attraction. Dhuno porano is another traditional ritual still followed by the female members of the family. Women with children sit with burning charcoal on their hands and head. “We always have seen seven to nine women of the family perform this ritual on Ashtami morning,” said Anup. Kumari puja is held on Navami at the house and in the evening the family members join Shib Krishna Daw’s family next door, for dinner. “The two families are not related in any way because we originate from two different parts of Bengal. But over the years girls from our family have been married into theirs and vice versa,” said Anup. The deity’s immersion, too, is done after the sound of a gunshot. 

Steeped in tradition, Jorasanko Daw Bari Puja will give you the true  flavours of traditional Bengali Durga Puja.