From Barir Pujo To Modern Pandals, This Is How West Bengal’s Durga Puja Has Changed Over Years

by Shreya Ghosh
From Barir Pujo To Modern Pandals, This Is How West Bengal’s Durga Puja Has Changed Over Years

West Bengal is known globally for various reasons and Durga Puja is one of these significant reasons. This is the biggest festival of Bengalis and a celebration of welcoming Maa Durga to Earth, prosperity, joyous moments, and good over evil. Maa Durga and her entourage are welcomed with the grandest celebrations and the extravagant pandals all around the state is the proof of Bengalis’ passion, dedication, and love for the festival. But Durga Puja’s beginning dates back to centuries and has an interesting story behind it.

Durga Puja & its Historical Beginning!

Durga Puja
Picture credit- Canva

It was in the 1700s when the puja took place in the state. Back then, Zamindars orgainsed the celebrations as a representation of their financial status, according to a report by MoneyControl. For a couple of decades, Durga Puja was all about barir pujo. Maa was celebrated with glory and grandeur at very few people’s houses. In the same century, during the second last decade, a group of young people came together to organise the first-ever parar pujo (celebrated in a neighbourhood). It was a significant beginning in the history and it has only increased and enhanced in the next years.

Today, Durga Puja is celebrated everywhere, be it a para’r pandal or a Bonedi Bari. Traditions continue to be the same with small changes in some customs in some places. No matter what the changes are and how people celebrate the festival, these 5 days of the year will always be momentous and full of joy for every Bengali.

Also read: Durga Puja: What Is The Significance of Bengali Thali For Puja & How Do We Eat It ‘In Courses’?

A famous part of Durga Puja was stick and sword fights in the initial years of the 20th century. Many clubs were formed over the next years to emphasise physical culture. On the other hand, some groups (samiti) were formed during that time. Freedom Fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose joined these revolutionary societies and made the introduction of these fights in Durga Puja committees, according to a report by Outlook India.

Political influences also played a massive role in the transformation of Durga Puja over the years. British Raj banned the celebrations for a couple of years in 1932. In 1935, the celebrations began once again.

Durga Puja Is A Lot Different Now!

Durga Puja
Picture credit- Soumit Chakraborty

Today, Durga Puja in West Bengal is synonymous with unique pandals. Be it the Shreebhumi Sporting Club Durga Puja Pandal in Kolkata or the Luminous Club in Kalyani, the entire West Bengal now gets decked up with themed pandals. Visitors travel to different cities to explore these splendid pandals and get a darshan of Maa Durga and her entourage. Pujo nowadays is about going for pandal hopping to the best pandals around us.

Over the years, decades, and centuries, Durga Puja and festivities have seen a lot of changes but Bengalis’ emotions with the festival are always the same. It has always been about welcoming Maa Durga to the Earth. It is like welcoming daughters to their paternal homes. There is such a divine relationship between Maa and her devotees. It might come as a surprise, but every year devotees see teary-eyed idols during the Boron ritual of Maa Durga. It is the last ritual to follow before immersing the idols in the water.

Also read: What Is The Symbolism Of Navapatrika, The Tree Next To Lord Ganesha During Durga Puja?

Durga Puja holds a special corner in our hearts and we wait a year for these 5 days. From nostalgia to love to fun, these 5 days are a celebration of good times.

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva

Image for representation 

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