While political parties across the country clanked swords about how they would celebrate Ramanavami, a peaceful and serene worship of Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman continued at the palatial Bhattacharya residence in Santragachhi. With no controversy associated with the traditions, the family members gather at the huge temple at the centre, dedicated to the deities for this humble annual festival. “Since Ramnavami is observed as the birth of Lord Rama, special prayers are offered on this day. The deities get new clothes and ornaments,” said Ratri Bhattacharya, a member of the family.
In 1948, Basanta Kumar Bhattacharya built the temple and started the puja at this house. However, at that time, the idols were made of clay. It is said that a hermit once visited the house and advised that the idols should be made of stone, wood or metal. In 1961, NC Pal, an artisan from Kumartuli, stayed at the Bhattacharya residence and made the idols out of astadhatu (an alloy of eight metals). NC Pal was ailing at that time and he died soon after he completed the work. However, the presence of Rama at the house made it the abode of the Lord, so it was named Rambari and the house is known by this name to all in Santragachhi and adjoining areas.
After the evening arati, the deities are offered a spread of radhaballavi, alurdom and a variety of sweets. A culturally enriched family, cultural programmes are mandatory on almost every occasion. On Ramanavami evening, rare bhajans on Lord Rama written by Basanta Kumar and set to music by another member of the family are performed before the deities. “It is a wonderful social event at our house every year and all members of the family come together to celebrate and socialise on this day,” said Subir Bhattacharya, another senior member of the family.