BHAGALPUR: The Bengali community’s oldest Durga Puja in Bhagalpur , the Arya Dharma Pracharini Sabha, commonly known as the Hari Sabha Durga Puja Committee or Durga Bari at Bengali Tola, has entered the 165th year of its celebrations this year. Since its inception, the Puja committee has been organising the festivities exactly the way it started.
Puja celebrations in Kaali Bari organized by the Kaali Bari Durga Puja Samiti at Manik Sarkar road is also more than 100 years.
Apart from the Durga Puja celebrations in traditional manner amid playing of dhak (huge drums), dhol and dhunuchi naach, everyday Lord Shiva is also worshipped on the premises of ‘Arya Dharma Pracharini Sabha’. According to the Bengali octogenarians, a Shivlinga came out when the excavation work for construction of the temple building was going on in 1926. Believing it as Goddess Durga’s blessings, daily prayer of Lord Shiva is held since 1926, they added.
Even Bengali residents living in Purnia, Katihar, Kishanganj, Banka, Munger, Sahebganj, Godda, etc visit Durga Bari and Kaali Bari for paying obeisance to Goddess Durga here. The importance of these two places can be gauged from the fact that several Bengali old timers, who have now now migrated to Kolkata, Durgapur, Asansol, Malda, Raiganj, Siliguri and other districts of West Bengal, prefer to visit the city during Puja.
Interestingly, while the Durga Bari also gets donation from minority community members which only indicates social harmony, the Kali Bari here takes pride for its association with noted littérateurs like Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyaya, Dr Balai Chand Mukhopadhyaya popularly known as ‘Banaphool’, Dibyendu Palit etc.
“We are keen to keep the traditional form of Puja and rituals alive when custom and culture is on the wane,” Nirupom Kanti Pal of Durga Bari said.
“A lot of things in our celebration are the same as it was in early days. We are still following the old traditional rituals in offering prayers in the morning and in the evening. Cultural functions like drama, dance, musical competition, felicitations to committee’s old-timers for their contributions etc are added attractions of the Puja celebration,” Pal added.
Members associated with the Kaali Bari Durga Puja Samiti said that three forms of deity— Durga, Kaali and Laxmi— are revered here, the tradition which dates to back more than 1000 years. Tapas Da, a devotee of Goddess Durga said that art and cultural events based on literary works of Rabindranath Tagore, Sarat Chandra, Sukumar Roy and other littérateurs are held that provides distinctiveness to the Puja revelry.