Dwarikanath Bhadra Barir Puja

Contributed by Nirban Nandy :

The household puja which will be 257 years old in 2017. It is a history of both struggle and prosperity which is marked with myths and true stories. Firstly , Dwarikanath Bhadra House is my maternal ancestry. From paternal side , I belong to the genealogy of the Nandy family of Khalishpur , Khulna. Whatever , Ramanarayan Sen is the first known ancestor of our house. Ramanarayan was born in the year of 1720 CE (c.) in Chinsurah. In the year of 1740 CE , he moved to Narail and joined a well-paid job in the Narail Raj Estate. Soon he became a favourite of the Rajah and the Rajah gifted him the jaigirdari of Maharajpur estate. Ramanarayan also successfully branched into business of pan , coconuts , paddy and banana. It is said that Ramarayan Sen was conferred with the title of Bhadra by the society for his benevolence and intelligence. Later on his successors replaced their original surname , Sen, with their title , Bhadra and started writing only Bhadra after their respective names. Ramanarayan’s immediate successors , his son Ramram Bhadra and grandson Kaliprasanna Bhadra , were not capable of keeping a zamindari properly in function and so they lost their estate. But they successfully kept up their business and remained wealthy enough. Kaliprasanna’s son Dewan Ram Bhadra and grandson Dwarikanath Bhadra were persons of remarkable intelligence. Both the father and the son , Ram and Dwarikanath respectively , were advocates in district civil court and also legal advisers to the Narail Raj Estate. Dwarikanath , after whose name our ancestry is named , was a benevolent person who donated much for the educational purposes. Besides he donated for building temples and even mosques as well. Dwarikanath held the position of the honorary head of many institutions times and again. Dwarikanath had three sons — Kailaschandra , Bishnucharan and Atulkrishna and four early-widowed daughters — Bindubasini , Raikishori , Brindeshwari and Bishnupriya. Kailaschandra became a sannyasi , took the name of Shrimad Gopaldas Babaji and lived in Shantipur. Bishnucharan married three ladies — Basanti Devi , Rajlakshmi Devi and Pankajini Devi. Basanti gave birth to three daughters — Rukmini , Satyabhama and Manitara — who were scholarship-holders of their time and Pankajini had one son , Kushalnath , a triple MA (my maternal grandfather). Rajlakshmi had no offspring. Kushalnath almost fled to India in the year of 1964 after being brutally attacked by some religious fundamentalists. Until they left Bangladesh , East Pakistan the then , they had been living at their palatial building with temples and a chouchala in their own talluk , Kamalapur , since 1760 beside the river of Kumar where they owned bighas and bighas of lands. Dwarikanath was awarded 3 parganas by the Narail Rajah ,Joynagar , Bhabrasur and Telihati and Bishnucharan was given the pattanidari of the tauzee no.34 by the British. They also had houses in Dhaka , Shantipur and Shobhabazar.
The Puja has been started in the year of 1760 CE by Ramanarayan in Kamalapur , now in Faridpur , Bangladesh. It continued till 1966 there and then shifted to India. As the economic conditions dwindled and the problem of proper dwellings at all occurred , for some years the clay-icon worshiping stopped and instead Patachitra was introduced but the tradition of puja never stopped. Then slowly it regained its past glory and grandeur. Like other Bonedi Households , ours also have many unique rituals , some are remarkably unique. The tradition follows the proceedings of the Devipuranam to invoke the goddess. The Icon is the traditional Bengal Ekchala one and unlike some other East Bengal families, Kartikeya and Ganesha do not interchange their places. One uniqueness of our Icon is that generally Durga and Lakshmi are coloured in the same shade but our Durga is Golden (Taptakanchanbarna) while Lakshmi is pinkish (Shyamala). Chalchitra is illustrated with the motifs of Shivabrata. Bodhan is done on the eve of Shashthi. Despite we are non-Brahmin , we offer cooked rice to the Goddess from Saptami – Dashami and on Navami , we offer cooked hilsa and rohu fish. Like others , on Dashami we offer Pantabhat and Kochushak compulsorily. Sharbat of Siddhi is offered to the goddess on Dashami. The family is hardcore Vaishnavaites and our Kuladevata , RadhaGobinda Jew , remains at the place of worship thoroughly. We do not encourage any kind of animal or symbolic vegetable sacrifices also. At the moment of Validana , we keep silence and then start worshiping the small silver replicas of the weapons of the Durga. At the time of Sandhipuja , specials offerings are made to the various village and folk deities of East Bengal , to name some of them — Manasa , Trinath Thakur , Nistarini , Thanaki Thakrun , Jhotpot Thakur , Dagu Bohurupi , Ghatkali , Boropir et al. Various kinds of juices and sharbats are offered to the Goddess along with the special naivedyas of dry fruits and aatbhaja (a mixture of muri , khoi , chinrey , chholabhaja etc). On Dashami , after the Darpanbisarjan , Aparajita Puja is performed. On Navami we do not perform Yajna but intead a uniquemost ritual is performed named Barabagni as the performance of Yajna is prohibited in the Kaliyuga. Barabagni means the Oceanic Fire. A recurrent myth says that Lord Rama himself appeared in the dream of one of our ancestors and ordered to perform this ritual replacing the Yajna. The ritual is , somewhat ,like that — the sthandila or the yajnakunda is filled with sand and decorated ; a small lamp is kept at the center and lighted ; enchanted bilwapatras (108) with ghee are placed one by one the lamp and at last only the flame remains visible partially. On Dashami immersion procession starts after the Debibaran by our ancestry ladies at first and then by the willing neighbours. The ritual of Byajana , fanning the Devi with a grand pankha , is performed by all the family members. Sindurkhela and Abirkhela are performed. Blank fires are made when the Devi arrives and when she departs also. The procession remains small because of the lack of manpower in the household. We consider the Devi as a daughter of our House.

Thanks to Nirban Nandy for sending this awesome article of the prestigious family and their puja.