The house that celebrates Durga Puja with patriotic songs
Hathkhola Dutta family is not just about palatial mansions and luxurious rooms that light up to opulence and splendour during Durga Puja, it is also about patriotism … a household that had in the pre-independence era upheld patriotism even during Durga Puja celebrations. It was a tumultuous time, when whole of Bengal had seen several freedom fighters shedding their blood to free India from British rule. To honour these brave-hearts, during Durga Puja immersion, Hathkhola Dutta family members sang patriotic songs along the way and even while returning from the ghats.
Idol making in progress
Surprisingly this tradition is still intact. As member of the family Abhik Dutta Chowdhury mentions: “Hathkhola family is famous for their traditional Durga Puja and since patriotic thoughts were also part of our celebrations, we still sing patriotic songs as a tribute to our Motherland on Bijaya Dashami, while returning after immersion.” True, if Goddess Durga is epitome of motherhood, so is our land. The family still holds on to the ties of the soil. Hathkhola Puja started around 1794. Preparations for the puja and idol making starts from the month of Ashar, on Shukla Nabami, when the framework is worshipped and then the idol making starts. The ritual of Bodhon is a big thing at the Dutta family, it continues for almost 15 days. Kumari pujo is performed on Ashtami. “Incidentally, Sindur Khela which is a quintessential part of Durga Puja is performed at Hathkhola in a different way on a different day and not on Dashami as most people do. Rather the married women of the household, put the vermillion on the goddess and then on themselves on Ashtami itself,” adds Abhik babu.
The Pujo is held in the portico or Thakur Dalan, which still speaks of the grandeur of the mansion. The idol is a typical Daaker shaaj with Ghotakmukhi lion, or lion with the face of a horse. The main bhog offered in the morning to the Goddess consists of ghee luchi and pasted sugar. Dry bhog is offered in the afternoon like Gaja, Radhaballabi, Motichoor and items made of ghee. Anno bhog is not offered to the Goddess.The performed sacrifices are unique. 'Khirer putul' is usually sacrificed at the Hathkhola Dutta bari. Just after the immersion of the Goddess on Dashami, 'Nilkontho' birds were set free. This is a Durga Puja which is laced with several rituals but what stands out from all, is the sense of belonging to the ethos of the Motherland.