The 260-year old Durga puja at Shobhabazar Rajbari, started by Raja Nabakrishna Deb in 1757, has gone back to the original golden colour of the ‘ekchala’ idol from the silver colour in use during the past 100 years.
“For a long time since Raja Nabakrishna Deb our idol used to have golden colour. But, later due to financial crunch the idols get silver colour. From this year we are again going back to the golden colour after a long gap, say about 100 years. We are following the original traditions only,” Debraj Mitra, a descendant of the family told PTI.
He said that the Shobhabazar Rajbari, which is part of the heritage of the city, has again brought back the tradition of inviting Shehnai artistes from Varanasi “to perform during the five-day puja to bring back the past glory.”
Asked about the idol, he said, “we have preserved the dice for the idols of Durga and other idols for 260 years and the descendants of the same artisan are making the idol now.”
“Even West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi had visited Shobhabazar Rajbari on the day of Mahasasthi and said how he is awe-struck by the Durga idol here. He echoed the sentiments of lakhs of people,” he said.
At the opposite to the ‘Shobhabazar Rajbari’ is the ‘Choto Rajbari,’ also built by Nabakrishna later. There too his descendants have been holding Durga Puja for the past 228 years.
A descendant Alok Krishna Deb said, “we are against any changes. The pomp and splendour of the yesteryears have been curtailed, but we have not compromised in sticking to the traditions and rituals.” Deb said, “ever since 1789, the house has been sticking to the silver foil tradition to adorn our deity.
“We had first introduced silver foil in Kolkata which was dispatched from Germany in those days and was popularly known as ‘Daker Saaj’, to deck up the ‘ekchala’ idol which does not have any cloth or ornament. The same artisan family has been making the idol for two centuries,” he said.
“We visit both Nabakrishna Deb household pujas for years and we find the idols in both mansions more divine and beautiful than those of the ‘barowaris’ (community). They represent the ‘bonedi’ (traditional) gharana,” Kumkum Mitra, an elderly woman, said.