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Thursday, September 16, 2021

The four priestesses: These women in Kolkata are set to break into a male bastion during Durga Puja

With a message, ‘Maa Durga will be invoked by mothers’, south Kolkata’s 66 Pally is all set to create a history giving responsibility of the puja to four women.

Kolkata |
Updated: August 11, 2021 7:39:58 pm
durga puja, durga pujo, kolkata durga puja, 2021 durga puja, female priest kolkata durga puja, first durga puja by woman priests, kolkata news, indian expressTraditionally, while women may help in the preparations of puja, the goddess is worshipped by only male priest. (Express photo by Partha Paul/ File)

Written by Subhamay Mandal

A group of women in Kolkata is set to break into a male bastion and create history during the upcoming Durga Puja in Kolkata. The group led by priestess Nandini Bhowmick and her colleagues – Ruma, Semanti and Paulami – will be responsible for all the rituals in the five-day festival at 66 Pally.

With a message, ‘Maa Durga will be invoked by mothers’, the popular south Kolkata puja committee is ready to set an example in the long history of the annual festival in the city.

In a city where theme-based pujas pandals are a rage, the organisers have decided to smash gender inequality and celebrate women empowerment in the true spirit of the festival.

The struggle of a woman deciding to become a priest is not unknown in the city. In a 2020 Bengali film, ‘Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti’, portrayed how a priestess wanted to change the traditional way of thinking of society.

However, this isn’t the first time the puja committee is bringing forward a unique concept. For years, 66 Pally is known among pandal hoppers for its innovative themes. Even last year, the pandemic didn’t deter their enthusiasm. Commemorating the birth centenary of noted filmmaker Satyajit Ray, they recreated Apu Trilogy for the mega festival.

The puja committee will kick-start its 2021 puja preparations through ‘khuntipujo’ on August 22.

Pradyumna Mukherjee, one of the officials of the committee, talked about their special theme of worshipping the goddess by mothers. “There are four priestesses who are in-charge of puja this year. The festival will be conducted following all the traditional rituals. The main purpose of this puja is to bridge the gender gap. Maa Durga is worshipped by everyone, so why should there be any gender inequality in it”.

As the city gears up for the much-awaited autumn festival to beat the pandemic woes, the organisers are hoping it will be a special attraction this year.

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