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Kalabau on the Maha Saptami of Durga Puja

On the Saptami Day of the Durga Puja, a Banana or Plantain tree is taken to a nearby pond or river and is cleaned and decorated like a bride. Special pujas are done by priests and this banana tree is referred as ‘Kolabau’ or ‘Kola Bou or Kala Bo.’ Kal Bo' represents Goddess Durga, Mother of Ganesha. In some places, Kalabau is considered to be the bride of Lord Ganesha.

The ritual is also referred as Nabapatrika and many people do not appreciate Kalabau being referred as the bride of Ganesha. Many feel origin of Nabapatrika practice can be traced to the agrarian society of East India. The Nabapatrika consists of nine leaves and they are used in the ritual.

The Kalabau ritual is an elaborate one and the stem of the banana tree is draped in a sari and the leaves are left uncovered. The ‘kolabau’ is brought back in a procession and it is placed near Lord Ganesha in the Durga puja pandal.

The Kala Bo is intended to serve as a symbol for the nine types of leaves (nava patrika). The priests tie a bunch of eight plants on the trunk of the plantain tree. The group of nine plants, all of whom have medicinal properties, constitute the Kalabau. The Kalabau is the plant form of Goddess Durga.