7 Durga Puja Of Kolkata That Evolved During World War II

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Kolkata: In the years 1942-44 during World War II, Japanese fighter planes bombed then Calcutta (Now Kolkata) trying to destroy the crucial Howrah Bridge as well as operations at the sea port. It’s impact was highly observed in Kolkata as streets were full of mass movement and the situation was hostile.

During the war on one side Nazi Germany was strengthening to progressing in Europe on the other side their aide Japan was rising in Eastern countries.The impact of the Second World War started spreading among the British rulers who were ruling in India. Although war situation faded away the important events of life from people’s memory but nature never stops it’s activity. By the term “Sharodotsav” (Autumn Festivals) we generally denote Durga Puja. As per the rule of mother nature Autumn arrived, the cotton like clouds hovering above the paddy fields and meeting each other at the horizon.The kash flowers fluttering by the sides of the fields,the familiar sound of Dhak, Dhunuchi nachh, the mild fragrance of Shiuli (The Night-flowering jasmine), gave a familiar tug to every Bengali heart. Hence, Kolkata was all set to invoke the deity of ‘Shakti’, Goddess Durga and celebrate Durga puja.

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World War II started in 1939 and ended in 1945. During these six years, the situation across the city was tensed.The City Of Joy was under threat as the Japanese bombers targeted Kolkata, bombers of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force (IJAAF) bombed the city part of North Kolkata and damaged it’s infrastructure. Soon the city was first “blacked out” from sunset to sunrise to make it harder for the bombers to accurately hit their targets and to prevent the city from more damages.

Entire functioning of the city was under curfew right from buildings to streets to houses.Situation was so much hostile that many shifted to the interior part of Bengal.Amid the adversity and fear yet the light of festival was still there in people’s heart.Research says during the period of World Ward II many committees came forward to celebrate the Durga puja in the city. And now these Durga puja have turned into the popular puja of the city of joy creating the eye catching theme pandals and idols.

Here are those Durga Puja Committees:

Badamtala Ashar Sangha: This Puja started in 1939. It began with the initiative of local residents,and it’s still progressing with the new generation. There was no theme puja concept then. However, it was a simple puja. In the past 40 years, the puja style of Badamtala has changed.The organizers have tried to create a benchmark with their new concepts of idol making and theme pandals. Now it is one of the best puja of the city, Badamtala Ashar Sangha has won many awards.

Ahiritola Sarbojanin Durgotsab: The oldest area of north Kolkata on the bank of Ganges. In 1940 some residents of Ahiritola started Durga pujo in their locality. Here the puja takes place in an open ground or can be said that a small open place. This year the puja reached it’s 79th year.

Chaltaabagan: In 1942 the Lohapatti of Chalata Bagan, near Maniktala, started their puja. This is one of the famous puja of the city of joy. Here ‘Maa Ambe’is worshiped on every Navratri.So the idol of ‘Maa Durga’ is made in the shape of ‘Maa Ambe’ in Chaltabagan.The ‘Sindoor Khele’ of Chaltabagan has it’s own charm as many Tollywood celebrities gathers here on Vijay Dashami to celebrate the Sindoor khela.

Ekdalia Evergreen Club: Since 1943, this club has been performing Durga puja in Gariahat.This famous puja committee every years comes up with some new eye catching theme pandal.Every year they create the pandal in the shape of some famous temples.Beside the theme pandal Ekdalya Evergreen also focus on other charms of the puja, the large chandeliers (Jhoomer lights) fitted in the puja mandap (premises) attracts people most.

Shinghi Park: It is often said in Kolkata that Shinghi Park and Ekdalia Evergreen Club are rivals. These two puja are the oldest puja of the elite class of South Kolkata.This year Shinghi Park puja will reach it’s 77th year.

Sovabazar Beniatola Sarbojanin: In 1944, it was the climax of World War II, a turning point of the war came when Hitler’s forces were lagging behind in taking possession of Moscow. But there is no room for pause in the conflict. Black market evolved during this unstable situation in India, and it’s impact was immense in Kolkata. At that time Durga puja was started in Sovabazar Beniatola area.This area was counted among the backward areas of Kolkata. Some residents of Sovazar Beniatola started the Durgapuja, organizers Biswanath Dutta and Anil Dutta took the initiative to start the puja. Since then, every year this puja committee celebrates the Durgapuja with pomp and fervour, the historic idol of the Durga puja that has reamin the same down through the ages has it’s own charm that attracts people from every part of the country and around the world

Halsibagan: It was 1945, when World War II was just ended.The impact of the war still on in peolple’s mind, the pungent smell of gunpowder was swirling in the air. At that time few locals from Halsibagan area started Durga puja in their locality.The puja of Halsibagan started with the initiation of ten to twelve residents. Since then Halsibagan puja committee has never stopped their puja but the place has changed three times.

Reported By: Debjani Sarkar
Edited By: Mousumi Das