Jagadhatri Puja: The Autumn Carnival Of Chandannagar

Special Report By: BARNALI BOSE
The uniqueness of the Jagadhatri idol of Chandannagar lies in her gigantic size and ornamental glory.
CHANDANNAGAR/HOOGHLY: Bengal has long been known to be a ‘Land of festivities’. In fact, an oft-quoted Bengali adage says that in twelve calendar months, Bengalis celebrate thirteen festivals.This is rather  an understatement if one goes by the umpteen pujas performed one after the other.

With Durga puja followed by Lakshmi puja , Kali Puja and BhaiPhota, the grand Autumn festivities are almost over for the rest of Bengal, while Chandannagar, in Hooghly district begins to adorn herself again to welcome the arrival of Ma Jagadhatri, another form of Ma Durga meaning ‘Protector of the World’.

Although this puja is held in a few other places too in West Bengal, in Chandannagar, it is a festival par excellence and an inimitable one, in its fervour, magnificence and tradition.

In Bengal, it is popularly believed that Maharaja Krishna Chandra of Nadia was the heralder of Jagadhatri Puja in Krishnanagar. Another view states that the Jagadhatri Puja performed by a local zamindar of Chandannagar, Sri Indranarayan Roy Choudhury’s precedes the date that of Maharaja Krishna Chandra. Whatever the fact might have been Jagadhatri Puja is very popular in Chandannagar, earlier called Chandernagore by the French .

When the entire India was under the British rule, Chandernagore was under the sway of the French. Chandannagar created a distinct tradition and was even considered to be a safe haven for the freedom fighters elsewhere in Bengal. A very interesting historical fact is that Chandannagar acquired independence from the French only in 1950.

Jagadhatri Puja is a major socio-cultural event in this region. The beginning of Jagadhatri puja in Chandannagar probably dates earlier than 1750. Indranarayan Choudhury performed the Jagadhatri puja at his own house in Chandannagar. The formal difference between Durga and Jagadhatri occurs in ‘Mayatantra’ and Jagadhatri is mentioned with reference to Durga in Krishnanda’s ‘Tantasaar’.

The ruling to perform the special puja of the goddess on the ninth lunar day of the light fortnight in the month of Kartick has been referred in ‘Krityatattarnab’ by Srinath Acharyachuramoni of the 15th-16th century.

The three-eyed, four-armed goddess is depicted as being the colour of the morning sun, rides a lion standing on the dead ‘Karindrasura”, the Elephant Demon and holds a conch, a chakra, a bow and an arrow in her hands.

The snake, the ‘nagajangopaveeta’ is her sacred thread. The uniqueness of the Jagadhatri idol of Chandannagar lies in her gigantic size and ornamental glory.    ( To Be Continued… )

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