Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
Devi turns 100

Devi turns 100

Author: Damayanti Datta
Publication: India Today
Date: September 24, 2009
URL: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/site/story?sId=63477&secid=24

For one hundred years, the devi and the asura have been battling it out under one roof. For one hundred years, she has been decked up in milky white, created by three generations of the same family.

For one hundred years, her devotees have offered up mouthwatering gourmet bhog. For one hundred years, the I.M.H Press has sold books to anyone who cared to visit the spot; and for one hundred years, a bullock cart has lugged her to the Yamuna after five festive days and nights.

The devi has turned 100 in the heart of Mughal Delhi, surrounded by rubble-built walls, labyrinthine lanes and arched gates. History and tradition have joined hands with prayer and piety at the Kashmere Gate Durga puja-the oldest in Delhi-to reach a quiet signpost this year.

"The history of worshipping the devi dates back to the Mughal era," says Kolkata-based journalist Sudeshna Banerjee, who has authored Durga Puja: celebrating the goddess then and now. By the mid-18th century, it had become an occasion for the babus of Kolkata to flaunt their wealth. Slowly the community took over. In a strange coincidence, this year marks Kolkata's first public Durga puja too.

"Delhi's first puja was kicked off by Parmananda Biswas, a Bengali Christian, who set the great tradition of a puja for all communities," says Deepayan Majumdar, vice-president of the Delhi Durga Puja Samiti, Kashmere Gate. In 1926, the samiti procured the first pratima (idol) in Delhi; 1950 sounded out the first drum roll of the dhak; and in 1970, former prime minister, Indira Gandhi, set it off.

Meantime, the master artists are adding final touches and steadying up their nerves for the dramatic moment of "restoring life" to the idol: chakshudan ceremony, or painting the devi's eyes, while drummers go wild with drum fills.

September 23 will showcase the gala yagna-a centenary special. Babu Mian's son is gearing up to step into his father's shoes on that day. Mian has been serving up his famous biryani at the Bengali Club stall for the last 50 years. His son will serve the same lip-smacking recipe at the same spot.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements