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The age-old ŚrīśrīRāj-rājēśwarī pujō of zāmindār Dutta Chaudhury family.
Srisri Kashiwar Jīhu Debottar Estate, Chaudhury para, Andul, Howrah- 711302.
Ancestral deity of the family,presently at Vrindawana.
The annual celebration of Dūrgā pūjā has been used as a means to celebrate the festivities of the
season in their own style by Rājās, and zāmindārs of then Bengal since time immemorial. Dutta
Chaudhury family at Andul in Howrah district is one such ancient zāminadār family where Dūrgā pūjā
is about deep rooted traditions, rituals and culture.
From Kannauj region of the Uttar Pradesh state of India, descendents of Maharshi Bharadwaja clan
Sudutta and Agni Dutta,Siva Dutta, whose son Purushottama Dutta is the founder of Daksina
Rarhiya [Southern region of Bengal] yagnika-kayastha [পৈতেধারী] Dutta family of Bally in Howrah.
Dutta Chaudhury family is one of an off-shoot of this Dutta linage.
The 12th Dutta man from Purushottama is Tekari (Devdas) Dutta, who had inherited enough capital from
his father, Murari Dutta Biswas, to be able to acquire the extensive property of Muzaffarpur Pargana,
where he established his residence on 4 million square feet of land around 1390 CE at a town named
Andul located on the west coast of the Adi-Saraswati river. Then Delhi Sultan recognized his estate
ownership by awarding him the title of “Chaudhury”, thus became the first zamindar of Andul. Since then,
the family came to be known as ‘Dutta Chaudhury family of Andul’ and Tekari’s descendents began to
know as ‘Chaudhuries of Andul’.
Tekari’s elder son Ratnakar, whose son Kamdeva, whose son Krishnananda Dutta, who was one
among the seven most predominant disciples of Nityananda prabhu and was then the zamindar of
Andul. He was initiated to the Krsna-nama maha mantra from Nityananda himself, when the later had
visited Andul, some 500 years ago during the Sankirtana movement in Bengal. Later Krishnananda
passed on all the family’s zamindari estate to his elder son Kandarpa Rama, arranged for the great
‘Chandula Math’ to be build at Andul, renounced everything and moved to Puri-dhama by carrying his
ancestral deity, SriSri Radha-Madhava. This deity, at present is kept at SriSri Krishna Balarama temple
at Vrindawana, under the supervision of ISKCON.
Krishnananda’s elder grand-son was Rama Sharana Dutta Chaudhury, who was then the zamindar of
Andul is said to have initiated family’s annual worshipping of Goddess Durga as Mahisha Mardini in
ca.1550, i.e. during the Suri Empire in Bengal (1532-1555 CE), at a hay-brick made āṭchālā, following
Tantra rituals. Some texts say that he was a great devotee of the Goddess. But due to an unfortunate
occurrence in the family the durgotsava had stopped for almost three decades until Ramasharana's sixth
and youngest son Kashiswar Dutta Chaudhury with his elder brothers- Mahesh Chandra, Siva Rama,
Jagannatha, Parvati Charana and Prema Chand re-started it in 1609 CE at a new dalan, in a new place,
i.e. where it is now taking place, after reviving some of their ancestral zamindari estate from then Mughal
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Emperor Jahangir (r.1605 –1627), which continues till date unabated with much pomp and grandeur.
Since Kashiswar, observance of the pūjā adheres to strict religious sanctity following the
The Durga Dalan built by Kashiswar unfortunately collapsed around the year 1929 CE, but the family
descendants took no time in getting a new one constructed and functioning within a year. The baton
has been passed on from generation to generation. It is being observed with the same rites, rituals,
and tradition till date by the present generation, with few alterations.
The family’s Durga dalan at Andul.
Photo: Biswarup Ganguly
A Kula dēva is most important element of a zāmindār family, loss of it is like loss of everything. Later
Ram Sharana’s younger son- Kashiwar Dutta Chaudhury had established Rāj Rājēśwara Nārāẏaṇa
sēla as Kula dēva of the family. Unfortunately that also has been misplaced somehow. It is said that
once Kashiwar was sitting on the bank of the adi-Saraswati River when he saw a Sivalingam coming
floating towards him. He picked it up and established Him as new ancestral deity of the family. He
named the deity ‘Kashiwar lingam’, based on his own name, who is the Bhairava of the family’s
Goddess Durga. The family has other Siva temples which are Visheshwara, Nakuleshwara and
Saurendra Mohaneshwara. The family has also Madhaveshwara shrine, just outside of the
Kashiwar Bhairava temple.
Photo: Biswarup Ganguly
There is an old ritual in the family that an unmarried girl needs to wear saṅkha bangles in their hand
from the time of Dēbī pakṣa. They are strictly restricted to wear any form of iron jewellery(s). The family
has started following Vaiṣṇaba rituals in Dūrgā pūjā from 1609 CE, but the Brāhmaṇas, here priests
come from very noble Brāhmaṇ families- one has to be a Tantra dhāraka, and another has to be
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The Raj-Rajeshwari- Mahisha Mardini.
Photo: Biswarup Ganguly
The preparations start in August, on the auspicious day of Janmāṣṭamī (the day Lord Kr̥ṣṇa appeared)
when “Kāṭhāmō pujō” is observed. The family has a permanent Kāṭhāmō which is worship. Earlier
bēchā pōṭō, an artisan family, had since generations worked on creating the idol of the family, now
they’ve been altered. It is believe that the original dhāj of the deity is still with them.
Women of the family welcome the goddess formally on the day through the ritual of ‘Bōdhon’. From
Kr̥ṣṇa navamī tīthi, Bōdhon rituals start and end on Dūrgā navamī tīthi. According to family practice,
Kalpārambha and ŚrīśrīChanḍī ghōṭ pujō gets started 12 days prior to the idol worship. With that,
starts ŚrīśrīChanḍī pāṭham. i.e. the recitation of powerful śrīśrīChanḍī ślōkas by priests. Before 1962
ca, the deity used to be a large one. Color of śrīDūrgā is painted Orange mixed with heated Gold; Her
Śāṛī and Uṛani are Red and Green respectively. Raja-guna Devi Lakṣmī’s body is painted same as
Dūrgā, Red Śāṛī, but Blue Urani. Bāk dēvī- Saraswatī’s body is painted white, Blue Śāṛī and Yellow
Urani. Yud'dh dēv Kārtika’s yellow appearance, white dhooti, bāhana partially Yellow and Brown. Face
part of R
̥ d'dhi and sid'dhi Dēva- śrī Ganēśa is painted white, body Pink and dhooti Yellow. Lion is
painted with Yellow and Brown. Mahisasura is painted Green. The family continues their unique
Māṭhchaurī chālacitra, characterized by three continuous semicircular divisions, where from three
prominent flat-shaped peaks are attached. The apexes can be thought of as three gunas, which are
namely Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Dutta Chaudhury belongs to Shakta sect of Hinduism.
The bēdhi of the deity is still now of raw soil, which is very unique and is believe to be very spiritually
awaken (Prachanḍa jāgrata). There have had several divine super- natural sights.
However, the decoration remains incomplete till Ṣaṣṭhī evening by when the Goddess and all the
other Gods are draped with jewellery items made of gold and silver. And finally with the Sandhyā
ārati on Ṣaṣṭhī evening, the idol is believed to be infused with life and the family spends the next
few days in Her honor.
Sweets like Nārakēla nāṛu, chandrapuli, khirēra chām̐ca, manōhara, etc are offered to the deity. Apart
from this, there is a special type of sweet of the family which is also offered- āgamunḍā, a cone-shape
sweet. This is the special one, of this family, which has been continued from decades. After
completion, it gets decorated with Pistachio, nuts and raisins, before it is finally placed at the top of
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Siva temples of the family- (from left) Visheswara, Kashiwar Bhairava, Nakuleshwara & Saurendra Mohaneshwara
Photo: Arundhati Chowdhury.
The dawn at the Dutta Chaudhury household on Mahāsaptamī is marked by the sound of conch shells
and drums as the men of the house walk to the river to bathe the naba patrikā OR kōlābau as it is
popularly known. While the Brahmin carries the kōlābau, and the vessel that holds sacred water from
the river, nearby.
This naba patrikā is not a simple bark of a banana plant, but a form of Mother Nature that is
worshipped as another form of Mā dūrgā and is one of the most primitive forms of worshiping
Mā dūrgā even before idol worship came into existence.
She is then adorned in red bordered Śāṛī and vermilion is smeared on its leaves, as a mark of a
married woman and placed on a decorated pedestal and worshipped with flowers, sandalwood paste
and incense sticks. Later she is placed on the right side of śrī Ganēśa. This ritual is followed by placing
the ghōṭ full of holy water that is worshipped for the next few days. This followed by the usual Saptamī
Pujo, Ārati, Bhōga Ārati and Brāhmaṇa Bhōjana. In following religious sanctity there has been no
compromise by the members of the family even down so many years from when the event originated.
In the auspicious day of Mahāsaptamī, Aṣṭamī and Nabamī, deity gets bathed with various Holy waters
and soils by the head priest.
A Pushpa- pātra is one of the utmost primary essentials to a priest in any puja. Dutta Chaudhuries fill it
up with various Red, Orange, Yellow and other vernal flowers, including bēlpātā, tulsīpātā , durbo, swēt
chandana, rakta chandana with few entities of boroṇḍālā.
Mahā'aṣṭamī is always special to the family. The chants of the puṣpāñjali echoes from all around. In
the thakurdalan, the din and bustle is like any of the other days during the pujo. The arrangements
start early in the morning and is followed by the regular pujō rituals. Mahā'aṣṭamī is marked by
mahāsnāna, followed by the usual pujō.
After the mahāsnāna , the Goddess is welcome by chanting the Hriṁ mantra. This is followed by the
Ārati and after that all members of the family, who remain on fast since morning, offer puṣpāñjali.
Earlier a practice of eating Luchi and Mangśēra kōrmā, in the day of Mahā'aṣṭamī was observed, which
had eventually stopped in the early ‘62. The deity is offered Onnobhōga, by the Dutta Chaudhury folks,
for being yagnika-kayastha. At the time of distribution of prosāda, a ritual still goes by saying, ‘Rām
shārānēr koṛā'i dhor’. The practice which used to be 4-Century ago is continued even today in the
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The ritual of saying ‘Rām shārānēr koṛā'i dhor’ was not there when the family had started Durga puja
in c.1550, but was introduced when zamindār Ramsharan Dutta Chaudhury’s sixth and youngest son
Kashiwar re-started the puja in 1609 CE. So, it is well understandable that this is one of those rituals
which have been continuing uninterruptedly since then.
THE ALLEGORY BEHIND THE RITUAL & ITS ACTUAL INTERPRETATION
Ramsharan’s next brother Gobinda Sharn Dutta Chaudhury in c.1580 had served ties with Ramsharan
and his Andul family cause of the disagreement, resulted in discarding of title ‘Chaudhury’ and moved
to somewhere at south of then Kalikātāgrām. Later he was shifted to a place which is at present
‘Gobindapur’, named after him.
In 1584 CE when Emperor Akbar appointed Raja Todar Mal as Secretary of the Treasury at the
Emperor’s newly created province combining Bengal, Bihar, and Odisha. It was then that
Gobindasharan gained employment under Todar Mal. In order to take revenge over his elder brother
Ram Sharan’s apparent mistreatment of him, Gobindasharan not only used his influence in the
treasury to increase the estate taxes due from Ramsharan, but he also had soldiers deployed to Andul
to plunder and loot Ramsharan’s belongings (Dutta Chaudhury's ancestral zamindāri belongings). He
also looted family’s ancestral deity Nārāẏaṇa śilā from Andul. The spoils of the attack were believed to
be then used to enrich his palatial house at Gobindapur where it is now the Fort William, Kol-21.
Gobindasharan’s grand-son Ramchandra Dutta founded Dutta family at Hatkhola in North Kolkata.
Due to such apparent atrocities committed on his property and belongings by his younger brother
Gobindasharan, Ramsharan suffered considerable loss in self-esteem. He could not recover from the
shock, and passed away leaving his five sons, the sixth one Kashiwar was then in his mother's womb.
This Kashiwar Dutta Chaudhury was the one who is said to have revived some of his family’s apparent
forfeited zamindāri estate after meeting with then Mughal Emperor Jahangir (reign: 1605- 1627) at
Adisaptagram in Hugli. The restoration was prosperous, but was not up-to its former glory. So when
Kashiwar re-started the family’s annual Durga puja in 1609 CE with his elder brothers, namely Mahesh
Chandra, Shiva Ram, Jagannath, Parvati Charan and Param Chand, have introduced a ritual of saying
'Rāmaśaraṇēr koṛā'i dhor’ during the distribution of divine prosād among the family members, because
it was Ramsharan who did initiate family’s Durga puja in 1550 ca during the Suri Empire in Bengal
(1532-1555 CE), probably to maintain his family’s aristocratic status as an affluent zamindār. The word
‘korai’ means a large tumbler-like cooking utensil, and ‘dhor’ means to hold. So the saying means to
hold Ramsharan’s cooking utensil, which literally meaning to tell his descendants to hold on i.e. to make
improve his strapped condition. This ritual has been made with a belief, hoping that the severe loss
which had taken place with this family will one-day be rescued in some way or the other by the later
generations of Ramsharan and so even today this practice of the saying still prevails.
The family’s Madhaveshwara temple at Chaudhury para in Andul.
Photo: Dhruba Dutta Chaudhury
The non-veg item that was eaten earlier during Mahā'aṣṭamī, was not from any animal sacrifice,
because from the year Kashiwar started Dūrgā pūjā in the family (1609 CE), there is no animal
sacrifice. Earlier during 1550s there used to be animal sacrifice, and by norms that sacrificed animal
meat was not consumed by the family members. However, Dutta Chaudhuries have their own food
gharānā (genre) all throughout the year, like Rādhā ballabī (with 16 maśalās), Chop-kāṭalēṭa,
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Mangśēra kōrmā, Pulā'ō and Mutton Biriẏāni.
In Mahā'aṣṭamī , there is a special ritual of doing Ārati with Black lamp to the deity.
Sandhi pūjā is an event of prime significance even for the Dutta Chaudhury family. An integral and
important part of Dūrgā pūjā, Sandhi pūjā is performed at the juncture of the 8th and 9th lunar day. It
lasts from the last 24 minutes of Mahā'aṣṭamī till the first 24 minutes of Mahānabamī. During this
juncture or the ‘sandhikṣaṇa’, Dūrgā is worshipped in her Chāmunḍā form. Dēbī Dūrgā had killed
Chanda and Munda, the two asuras (demons) at this sandhikṣaṇa and thus acquired the name of
Chāmunḍā at this point in time.
The pūjā is completed by offering 108 lotus flowers, a single fruit, cloth, jewellery, garland of 108
Jabā phula (Hibiscus rosa sinensis), garland of 108 Aparājitā phula (Clitoria ternatea), and garland
of 108 Bēlpātā (Aegle marmelos). Dbīpamālā, a series of 108 diẏās are burnt to welcome goddess
Chāmunḍā to the house with the “Dēbī prasid'dha paripālaẏa” mantra. The Ārati is followed by the
members of the family offering puṣpāñjali. Many of the women of the house observe a fast till the
end of the ‘Sandhi pūjā ' no matter how late in the night it is scheduled. The Dutta Chaudhuries
following the Vaishnava tradition do not have the ritual of sacrifice. This ritual marks the end of
Mahā'aṣṭamī and the beginning of Mahānāvāmi.
Mahānāvāmi in the Dutta Chaudhury family is celebrated by performing the ‘Kumārī pūjā '. The
concept of this ritual is to welcome the daughter 'Dūrgā' who comes to visit her parents house with her
children annually. The kumārī is the most powerful form of Mahāśakti and the basis of creation. A girl
age between one to sixteen symbolizing the kumārī form of Dēbī, is worshipped in front of the deity.
The purpose of this worship is to evolve the purity and divinity of the women of the society.
Diminishing the larger than life stature of the Goddess to someone much nearer and closer is the real
reason for this form of worship.
Kumārī pūjā of the family is special and unique, follows Tantra norms. Unlike other household pujas,
there are two kumārīs (age between 12-to-18) - one from highly intellect Kāẏastha (i.e. within the
family itself) and another from a Kulīna Brāhmaṇa family.
In the dawn of Mahānāvāmi, the kumārī are bathed in the holy Ganga water and is clad in a new red
bordered Śāṛi, symbolizing a married woman. They are then adorned with flowers and jewellery, Ālatā
is applied to their feet and a 'tilak' of sim̐dura on forehead. They are made to sit before the goddess and
a flower from the Dēbī’s hand is placed in their hand. Placed before them are flowers, bēla (wood
apple) leaves, incense sticks, lamps, mahānaibēdya and other things required for puja. The purōhitas
then chants the mantras and the sound of ḍhāk fill the atmosphere.
The lady (Kāẏastha) of the family who does the ‘Saṅkakalpa’ for the pūjā offers pūjā to the Brāhmaṇa
girl and a lady (Brāhmaṇa) offer pūjā to the Kāẏastha girl. After the pūjā, the divinity of the Goddess
Dūrgā is said to be seen in the girls. It is customary to gift the girls and to take their blessings. The last
ritual of Mahānāvāmi is a yāẏanā that is performed by burning wood with ghee as an offering to the
The ‘Dhunō poṛā’ is special ritual, categorically held in this day. The ritual is performed by a married
lady, performing Shankalpa. Balancing an earthen plate or sōra on the two palms and one on the
head, sit facing the goddess braced in a new sari. Stray and incense is placed in the three earthen
plates keeping the biggest of them on their head, positioned upon an encircled cloth to avoid heat and
the other two on their two hands. While the priest utters sacred mantras, men of the family put the
resin in the earthen pot and the fire burns brighter. Fumes evokes out of these vessels. In this position,
she prays to the deity for the betterment of the family members. This continues for 5-10 minutes. After
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performing the ritual, a boy of the family sits on her lap and thereafter touches her feet and seeks her
Śatru Boli, Chālakumaṛō Boli and ām̐ kha Boli are also performed in this day at a defined time.
The Śatru is made up of rice, which means annihilation of enemies of the family. The rice made
‘Śatru’ symbolizes enemy(s) of the Dutta Chaudhuries. There is a misconception among the local
people about this event. They think that the family had human sacrifice (Nara-boli) earlier, which
is just the representation of the rice made Shatru, but it is absolutely not the case.
Bijaẏa daśumi of marks the end of the festivities. The mood is sombre and a little melancholy. The members of
the family are all emotionally drained and they feel sad to bid farewell to the goddess who is created bit by bit in
the very Chāndi maṇḍapa. After the morning pujō, the priests un-tie the sacred thread, around the deity.
The Chāndi maṇḍapa is decorated with Ālpanā. The canopy over the deity is removed. It is believed that the
structure of the canopy came into being from a swapna dēśa. The Brāhmaṇas then remove the extra
decorations from the Goddess and puts her down from her bēdhi.
In the evening, She is placed in the centre of the courtyard, in front of the Chāndi maṇḍapa so that the women folk
that complete the Bōron rituals. The women of the family dress in ornate, gōrōḍ or bēnārasi śāṛī and complete the
ritual with all the necessary ingredients, which necessarily includes ālatā , sim̐ dura, pān, and sweets. One by one
the goddess and all her children and their pets are treated with all this by every female member of the family. Then
the married women apply vermilion by gracing and greeting each other. The Dutta Chaudhury women are not
allowed to have fun during the bhāṣaṇa. The ḍhākis play the beats as the women folk have fun in the courtyard
itself and it is a wonderful scene as women of all ages dressed ornately adorn the courtyard emitting colour and life
The Dutta Chaudhury women offer sweets, sid'dhi and water, to the deity. And a bunch of pan is given in her
hand. It’s made out of a special ritual, looks like a bunch of grapes. Rājabanśī men come to take the deity on their
shoulder to Andul dulēpāṛā. An elaborate grand procession then heads towards the place. There again women of
dulē [low caste] community perform ‘Bōron’. Earlier this dulē community used to carry the deity on their shoulder
for immersion. They had stopped doing this work, long ago. Even earlier satya bāgha family from Jangalpura had
come to do this job. They also had stop doing it.
At present, Rājabanśī men come from Jhorhat (North Andul) to perform the task of deity immersion. Earlier Dutta
Chaudhuries has given them- Luchi, Bōm̐dē, nāṛu ties all together in a Banana leaf, but now this ritual have long
Previously immersion had taken place in Dutta Chaudhurys’ own Ghat, on Saraswati river channel constructed by
one of their forefather, Jadunath Chaudhury. The family members bid a final tearful farewell to the Goddess as
she floats away in to the darkness. The dule men then take a dip in the Ganges and fill a jug full of water that is
brought back home. Dutta Chaudhury men sit on one side and women on other side in the thakurdalan. Head
priest come and sprinkle that water as Śāntir jol following which all members of the family eat nāṛu and celebrate
Bijaẏā. The young ones touch the feet of the elders and seek their blessings while the men embrace and
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