| The idol at Sarkar Bari last year. Picture by Amit Kumar |
Times have changed, not the tradition.
Two erstwhile zamindar families Mahashay Deori of Champanagar and Sarkar Bari of Manik Sarkar Chowk at the heart of the town have been celebrating Durga Puja for at least two centuries with the same grandeur and rituals.
Besides kari loot (distribution of sweets) among devotees on Bodhan, Charturthi and Saptami, residents also throng a craft fair till Kali Puja at Mahashay Deori, said Paltan Ghosh, a senior member of the family. At the Puja of Sarkar Bari, the downtrodden community members in the locality, equally participate in the rituals.
I am the 35th generation member of Mahashay Sri Ram Ghosh who was appointed kanungo by Mughal emperor Akbar. We are originally from Kannauj and Akbar had given us the areas extending between Tilha Koti and Chowki Niyamathpur (present Champanagar). Mahashay Sri Ram Ghosh started the Puja here, said Ghosh.
Mohon Lal Sarkar, one of the present organisers of the Sarkar Bari Puja, said: We are from Bannapara in Domjur, Howrah, and our ancestors in 1776-77 were on a holy voyage to Varanasi. When their boats anchored in Bhagalpur for collecting food, officials of the East India Company, who were searching for a suitable person for the post of a manager, approached Sir Jadunath Sarkar. He was later appointed by the company and the family shifted Durga Puja from Bannapara to Bhagalpur in 1779.
At Mahashay Deori, the Durga idol has only four hands instead of the usual 10. Ghosh said that the family would revive bali (sacrifice of animal) this year after 32 years.
Power supply hit
Power supply in Bhagalpur has been severely hit a couple of days before the festive season. On Tuesday, the town received only 2MW up to 3pm. Puja organisers have started to arrange generator sets for uninterrupted electricity. A senior Bihar State Electricity Board officer said since the supply was reduced from the central load dispatch, Patna, they could do nothing.