Kolkata: When we think of ‘Jagatdhatri puja’ and the immediate association that leaps to mind is Hooghly’s Chandannagar. But it is a very different Jagatdhatri puja in Nadia’s Krishnangar with an idol measuring under 4 ft that has a fascinating history. According to descendants of Raja Krishno Chandra. Devotees worship and celebrate reincarnation of goddess Durga in the name of Jagadhatri and create the splendid ambiance with high festive spirits. The festival is also celebrated at Chandannagar, Krishnanagar, Nadia and Kolkata after Durga Puja and Kali Puja in the month of Kartik.
The Jagatdharti Puja was first started by Maharaja Krishnachandra of Krishnanagar, Nadia in Bengal. Jagatdhatri Puja is very popular in Krishnanagar, Rishra, Chandannagar, Bhadreswar, Hooghly, Boinchi. In krishnagar, nadia Burimar Jagatdhatri Puja is one of the oldest jagatdhatri Puja in Bengal. Because Maharaja Krishnachandra was inspired by this puja. Pimarily this puja was done by one old woman called ‘Burima’ in Bengali language. Later the goddess was named after ‘Burima’. Presently in krishnagar,Nadia more than 100 Jagadhatri puja is organized but the main attraction is still Burima.
During the late Mughal Period, the Nawab of Bengal, Aliwardi Khan imprisoned Maharaja Krishna Chandra and his son Kumar Shiv Chandra for their inability to give away their kingship to the Nawab; Nawab knew how Maharaja would fall weak, if he was kept imprisoned during Durga Puja. The dirty politics of the Nawab yielded fruits; famished and broken, the Maharaja came out of the prison and found it was the Durga Navami. With the extreme desire to worship Devi Durga, Krishna Chandra ran bare feet towards Krishnanagar. But exhausted from hunger and lack of sleep, Maharaja fell unconscious near the bank of Rukunpur.
That night, he saw in his dream, a divinely beautiful girl, standing before her and saying, “Maharaja, please quench your thirst. Fulfill your desire and worship me in the way I now shall incarnate before you. Worship me on ‘Shukla Navami’ that shall come next.” The girl transformed into a deity, sitting over a lion and filling the world with light; Sankha (conch), Chakra (ring) and Dhanurwan (Bow and arrow) lay in her hands.
Astonished and elated, Maharaja woke up and returned to his state where he called all the pundits and asked who the deity was. He came to know that it was goddess Jagatdhatri, the incarnation of Devi Durga, who was worshipped about 2000 years back by the Dravida clan. In 1754, Maharaja Krishna Chandra formally initiated the Jagatdhatri Puja and today, even after 250 years, Jagatdhatri Puja is celebrated in the Palace of Krishna Chandra.
Although the Jagatdhatri Puja has its origin in Krishnanagar, today the city of Chandannagar is the most known for the grand heritage that it beholds in the worship of goddess Jagatdhatri. Every year, millions of people march into this historical city to witness how more than 250 Pujas are conducted, with each one excelling in the decoration of lights and pandals.
Indra Narayan Choudhury, was one of the richest businessmen in Bengal and had a great friendship with Maharaja Krishna Chandra. Probably because of this bonding, Indra Narayan initiated Jagatdhatri Puja in Chandannagar probably in 1755.Some say, the Laxmi Gunj Bazaar in Chandannagar was the busiest place for rice sellers from all over Bengal. History says, some businessmen once got stuck in Chandannagar due to rain during Jagatdhatri Puja and could not return to Krishnanagar. So they decided to worship Goddess Jagatdhatri in Chandannagar itself. One can see the ancient Devi Murti, in the “Chaul Patti” in Chandannagar.
Today with over 250 pujas and with the event of a grand procession, Chandannagar carries the heritage and with it, the history, like a fairy tale.
How Is Goddess Jagatdhatri Worshiped?
The Goddess rides on a lion, similar to that of Devi Durga’s, but in some places, she is seen to be riding an elephant or a tiger also. Elephant or tiger, both represents power, and pride, in humans, which needs to be controlled in order to live happily. Unlike Devi Durga, she is entangled by a snake on her neck, thus, signifying, fight against all odds in life.
The idol has an old fashioned shaping, and the four hands display conch, discus, shaft, and bow respectively. Conch is the symbol of brilliance and purity, discus destroys the evil spirit, while shaft represents wisdom and bow represents concentration of mind. The Goddess thus brings the spirit of wisdom, and marks the auspicious time, as per Hindu calendar.
During the festival, special destinations like Chandannagar, Krishna Nagar, are lighted with the spirit of enjoyment. Special aspects, like extensive decorative lighting adds up to the spirit. Bhog (Food offered to the Goddess), is distributed in nearby localities.The first day, of the Puja, i.e. Saptami she is worshipped as a symbol of Yoga and the Brahman both depicting spiritual upliftment. She is worshipped in the midst of Dhak, Dhunuchi nachh and Vedic hymns.
Actual Puja Rituals are done on the 3 days of Ashtami, Navami and Dashami similar to that of Durga Puja.
On Ashtami, i.e. eigth day of devipaksh Devi is worshipped as the giver / provider of Wealth, Sustenance, Good luck as well as prosperity. Navami, is the major celebration, when she is considered to be conceived and sent to the earth. Animal Sacrifices are done in some places on the same day. This has now been replaced with Cucumber, Banana etc, due to legal barriers.The last day of celebration is Vijaya Dashami when the Goddess is immersed, in the Ganges, accompanied by the beat of drums and merrymaking, besides localities dancing to the spirit.
The surrounding air becomes heavy in fragrance of incense wafting in the air. Jagatdhatri Puja marks the end of the Hindu festivals, for the year. With the immersion of the Goddess, people in Bengal again start counting the days, for the next festive season.