Head of Family: Subir Ray, Gautam Ray
Puja Managed by:
Email Address: email@example.com
Age of puja: 260
Theme of Puja: Sabeki puja
Pratima Shilpi: Minakshi Pal (daughter of Amar Pal)
Inauguration By: Governor of West Bengal
Last Year Award:
Last Year Inaugurated By: Governor of West Bengal
At the dawn of the 17th Century, Gajendra Narayan Chattopadhaya, the treasurer of Emperor Jahangir's capital, Adi Saptagram received the esteemed honour of Raja with the title ''Roy Chowdhury’’. He was honoured with various gifts from the emperor. When Emperor Jahangir changed his capital from Adi Saptagram to East Bengal, Raja Gajendra Narayan Roy shifted to Halisahar and later to Madhya gram in North 24 Parganas and resided there. It was here that Raja Gajendra Narayan Roy and his descendants started the annual worship of the Goddess Durga and the Goddess Annapurna. The daily worship of Lord Sri Sri Ishwar Narayan as the deity of the Estate was also established in his household. The Lord is also known as Narayan Shila.
About the year 1742 with the terror of the Bargi attacks, a section of the Roy family together with their deity the Narayan Shila, fled from their establishment. Crossing the ''Maratha Ditch'' made by the British, they made their way towards the outskirts of Calcutta, they landed in Behala. The Roy family established themselves in Behala in 1756 and started the worship of the Goddess Durga which is continuing till date.
A distinguished scion of the Roy family was Ambika Charan Roy with esteemed qualities in the field of art and literature. Honoured with the title of Rai Bahadur, Ambika Charan graciously spent his time in benevolence and increased his family property with dexterity The Goddess Jagatdhatri appeared to the virtuous Brahmin devotee Ambika Charan in a dream and according to the wishes of the' Goddess, he started Jagatdhatri Puja which is performed every year till date.
The third son of Ambika Charan Roy, amongst the four, Amarendranath, built his own house in 1930 with the name ''Amarendra Bhavan’’. The late Sailen Roy, the only son of Amarendranath Roy, worshipped the Goddess Durga annually in his own residence. Feeling the need to continue the ancestral worship, both Goddess Durga and Goddess Jagaddhatri are worshiped in “Amarendranath Bhavan'' by Sailendranath Roy since 1976.
At present, the two sons of the late Sailendranath Roy, Sri Subir Roy and Sri Gautam Roy, shining examples of devotion and spirituality, perform the Durga Puja and Jagatdhatri Puja every year, maintaining the traditional customs with great pomp and splendour.
The drum-beats are an integral part of the Durga Puja. This special variety of the drum, known as 'Dhak,' enthralls the hearts of the premise with its majestic rhythm right from the day of 'Shashthi.' This drum is held on the shoulder with the beating side in the bottom and is beaten with two sticks, one thick and another thin.
Today's most authentic form of the Durga is that of a ten handed goddess modeled out of clay astride a lion. Each of those hands carry a separate weapon in them except two, which holds the spear which has been struck into the chest of the demon, Mahishasura. The four children of the Goddess had also been added to the iconography - Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge, Kartick, the God of beauty as well as warfare and Ganesh, the 'Siddhidata' or the starter of everything in good sense.
The Durga Puja spans over a period of ten days in case of traditional and household Pujas, though the main part of it is restricted to four days only. Here in, we get a very illustrative depiction of all the minute details of the Puja rituals along with the Bhog from the eldest wife, now the head of the family in the respect of the “andarmahal and ritual deptt”, Smt Nilanjana Roy.
“Abahan” starts from Pratipada till “Bilwabaran” Another very beautiful custom performed by the priest at dusk on Mahashasthi, is 'Bodhan'. The image of the Goddess, crafted with care, and made of clay, is not yet regarded divine. It is these peculiar, yet highly meaningful practices that make the worship of the Goddess so unique and awe-inspiring.
The main Puja, however, starts on the evening of 'Shashthi', the sixth day after the new moon, generally from beneath a 'Bel' tree (wood-apple) for this traditional family. This is known as “Bilwabaran.”. The house many bel trees .For their household Shiva lingam, everyday a lot of bel leaves are required and for the homa and yagna, bel branches are equally needed. Puja of bel is performed here at first and thereafter homage is paid to the pratima. After Bilwabaran, comes “adhibaas”. As the idol of the pratima is surrounded on its four sides with holy red thread, similarly this tree is done the same. Also after the cutting off the holy thread and the immersion of the pratima, this thread is also cut off. A clay platform is made in front of the tree where She is offered naibedya for these three days.
Another beauteous subject is the depiction of the yantram. Every Sakti Puja has its definite yantram. The Durga yantram is portrayed in front of Maa, by the priest with its five natural colours. No artificial colour for rangoli is used. Vermillion is used for red colour; White colour comes from the dust of rice, yellow from the powder of turmeric, green from the crushing of the leaves of dry-apple and black from the dust of black charcoal. After bilwabaran, the priest fixes up the Debi Ghot on his drawn Durga yantram.
In the wee hours of 'Saptami,' the next day, the Roy family performs their unique and traditional “kalabou baron.” This custom of the Holy bathing is traditionally going on. Unlike other household old Pujas of Kolkata, this family does not go to the nearby pond or Ganges for the Holy bathing of Kalabou. Kalabou, the wife of Lord Ganesha is bathed in a huge tumbler with various sorts of collected water the year through. The bathing water comprises of water from many pilgrimages, holy places, clear rain water, water from many rivers, seas, oceans, Vishnu oil, fragrant body oils, Jaba Kusum oil etc. All the water holders are labeled properly with their sources. In nine “Ghot” or pots, this water is kept and the tantradharak, the assistant of the prime priest performs this job of Holy bathing. Then Nabapatrika is established. Kalabou is thereafter greeted warmly and is offered a new sari. During the Durga Puja, which is partly a harvest festival, a central object of worship is the nabapatrika, a bundle of nine different plants which is identified with Durga. The 'Purohit' performs 'Chakhkhudan', which involves touching the eyes of Durga with 'kajal', the clay image is invested with Holy Spirit and is transformed from a mere clay idol to a figure of divinity. The Goddess is also identified with, pot, containing edible fruits and plants from the nabapatrika together with Ganges water. The pot is set on moist dough scattered with the seeds of five grains. The priest recites a prayer identifying the pot with amrita, the immortal nectar of the gods. Durga as the pot symbolizes the power of growth of the grains and the source of the power of life which gave the gods immortality.
On Ashtami, Kumari Puja is the main attraction. The little girl is worshipped in the form of Debi Durga, after the “pran-pratishtha” by the priest; she is beautifully adorned with new red sari, ornaments, “alta”, oil and other cosmetics. The girl looks very graceful. After the Puja, she is offered with many gifts. Apart from this, anjali is given on all these three days along with the Sandhi Puja.
The main Puja starts thereafter and the prime time is reached in the 'Sandhikshan,' the crossover time between Ashtami and Nabami. Sandhi Puja bears a special significance in Durga Puja. It is that special time when asura was died in the hands of the Almighty Debi Durga. Priest utters the Holy Chamunda mantra. This Puja is held for 45 minutes approximately. Before the Sandhi Puja starts, the total area surrounding pratima is cleaned and washed away carefully and then the arrangement for the Sandhi Puja gets started. The ingredients for the Puja are placed in a special way. There is a huge “barkosh” (a wooden plate for Puja), with its approximate circumference like that of a big cart’s wheel. On it is placed mounted rice of 7 kgs. On the top of its peak, narkel naru (balls of jaggery) is placed in beautiful shape. Some times, it bears the resemblance of Bal Gopal, Ganesha, sometimes boat, elephant, swing (depending on the fact on which Debi is arriving and departing from the Heaven).On the earthen plates and containers fruits, panch-kadai, tender coconut, nuts, beetle, pistachio, sweet curd ,sweets, garam masala , beetle nut palm, ghee rabri etc are offered and that too in huge quantities. 28 tender coconuts are kept cut off in a special method. 108 lotuses are a must in this Puja.
Nabami comprises mainly of Sacrifice and homas. A great gathering is held among all the family mambers during these days.
As Durga Puja is basically Sakti Puja, so sacrifice is a must in this Puja. In early days, goat sacrifice was performed. But during late Amarendranath Roy’s period, animal sacrifice is ceased and now the tradition is going on with vegetable sacrifice which includes sugar cane, cucumber and white gourd in Shashi, Saptami, Ashtami Sandhi Puja and Nabami.
Finally, on 'Dashami,' the tenth day from the new moon, the image is immersed in their household pond. The idol is so heavy in weight that while bringing Her from the thakur dalan to the pond, the staircases, dalan of that particular area are breaking off. It is not so easy to accumulate skilled labours, as they are available in North Kolkata, Kumartuli areas, who can carry this Ekchala pratima for immersion. They perform this task very skillfully and too quite easily. The water, garlands and the flowers of the Devi Ghot is immersed in water and fresh water is gathered in the Ghot and is kept in the thakur dalan for next seven days. Thakur Mashie sprinkles this Holy water as “Shantir-Jal.”
Another special rite of this family is the “Kanakanjali”. As per the mythology, Debi Durga goes back from her maternal house on this day. Before going back from father’s house , She gives rice , money along with other grains to Her mother as if She is paying back in kind , the expenses what was done for Her in these days. In this family, the youngest child gives this offering to the eldest motherly member.
With the arrival of Debipaksha, culinary art plays a major part in relative with Bhog. From Pratipada to Shashthi, there is a wide range of varieties in the menu starting from “ghee-bhat” to “Payesh”. On these days, food is offered to Debi Maa for four times. On the morning, “naibedya” is given with rice, fruits and sweets. At noon, She is offered ‘Khichuri”, five types of vegetable fries, a vegetable curry, fish preparation, chutney and payesh. On the evening, ”sheetal” is given to Her with sweet curd and sweets. Finally, on the night, Maa is offered plain white rice, dal, shukto, 5 types of fries, a vegetable curry, fish preparation, sweet curd and sweets. Unripe jackfruit is a must in the menu of the Bhog. Curry of unripe jackfruit, cauliflower& peas, cabbage also takes place in the menu. “Ghonto” is also a must in these days. It can be of mocha, shak, etc. Fish is cooked separately and offered to Maa in these days though it is cooked and offered to Maa separately from the other dishes.
During these days, the naibedya is dedicated in quite a significant way. A main and big naibedya is given to Maa Durga, one to the bel tree, nine to kalaBou or navapattrika (in nine different bases)and thirteen to others where Lord Shiva, Her children along with their consorts.
In the very early stage, Behala was a mere village. The neighbouring hoods and the people from far and near, used to come and attend the Puja in this house, these days. They had a demand from their inner selves that they will get the bhogs and prasads these days though out. Sarkar Mashais also prepared menu in that manner and they all ate the Bhogs happily. It was a huge number in count. On the last day, late Sailendranath Roy, proud father of Sri Subir Roy and Sri Gautam Roy, gave new clothes to the needy and the old ones. Till now also, many people come from far-off to pay homage to Debi Maa. The Roys still run with the tradition of giving prasads to all whoever comes in the evenings.