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Oldest Community Durga Puja Pandal in Kolkata City

The Durga Puja Pandal and ‘baroari’ puja of Bhowanipur Sanatan Dharmatsahini Sabha on Balaram Bose Ghat Road in Bhowanipore is the oldest community Durga Puja in Kolkata. The first community Durga Puja was held here in 1910 when the city was Calcutta and was the capital of British India. The puja is being held here for 99 years without any break.

In 2019, the Durga Puja of Bhowanipur Sanatan Dharmatsahini Sabha will begin on October 4. It will be the 109th year of Durga Puja celebrations.
“The puja may have receded from the spotlight but it never stopped, not even during the famine of 1943,” says Anil Mukherjee, the 83-year-old puja committee president whose grandfather Khagendranath Sashtri, a Gita scholar, was one of the founders. 
The area was home to author Premendra Mitra, mathematics teacher Keshab Chandra Nag and Justice Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, who were all involved with the puja. The souvenirs still carry a list of the office-bearers since 1910.
The idol is now made on the thakurdalan facing the twin Shiva temples that date back to the time Balaram Bose constructed the ghat. “The place used to be a crematorium with even a satidaha taking place there in 1829,” says Jyoti Chatterjee, a resident. 
The city’s first baroari puja had its share of entertainment, too. “We have seen jatra, Kali kirtan and Chandigaan. Shehnai masters have performed here,” recalls Mukherjee. 
While the theatrical performances have ceased, shehnai recitals continue. Also thriving is the tradition of giving clothes to the poor.



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