Puja at Bishayas
The puja pandal at the residence of Ashok Kumar Bishaya in Uzanbazar. Image credit - Northeast Now

Called me old school but I have seldom enjoyed the hustle and bustle during any festival, especially Durga Puja.

As a child Durga Puja for me meant loads and loads of fun where playing thief and the cop with friends meant everything.

And as I left adolescence stage and embraced adulthood, priorities changed and the innocent game of thief and the cop was replaced by several other activities – about which I cannot write in the public domain.

Nevertheless, one thing, however, remained same – my detachment from the puja hustles and bustles.

I prefer calmness and seek for a serene environment to enjoy puja my way.

In fact, I prefer visiting the sober puja pandals and avoid visit places where it is all about the latest technology and extravagant lighting.

Also read: Exotic birds caged at Durga Puja pandal in Silchar, committee faces flak

When I was growing up, I was always told about the Durga Puja celebrated at the residence of Ashok Kumar Bishaya in Uzanbazar.

Being one of the oldest (private) places of Durga Puja celebrations in the city, this puja has attracted revellers from far and wide.

Believe it or not, but it was only this year that I stepped foot in this puja for the very first time.

The puja has an aura of its one and mere words are not enough to express it. One needs to be present out there in person to understand what I actually mean.

Worshipping Goddess Durga by the Bishayas began in 1926 when late Boroda Kanta Bishaya worshipped the Mother for the very first time by doing ‘ghot’ puja.

A ‘ghot’ is an earthen pot on top of which a coconut is placed and is wrapped with a cloth and then puja is offered to it.

However, his son, late Khiroda Kanta Bishaya, began idol worshipping and since then the tradition has continued.

One of the striking features of this puja is that each idol is adorned with real gold ornaments.

The set of ornaments, which was used for the first time, is used even now.

To know more about the puja, I had a brief chat with Barasha Rani Bishaya – the great granddaughter of late Boroda Kanta Bishaya.

“Idols are built in our Uzanbazar residence and the idol-making process begins from the day of Rath Yatra,” the popular actor said.

“The idols are made in one single frame. They are the third generation idol-makers and belong to the same family that constructed our first idols,” she added.

The generations of attachment with this puja don’t just end there and there is more to it!

The family that supplied dresses for the idols in the first puja continues to do so even now.

“The dresses are bought from the same family in Kumartoli, from where the first dresses were bought,” she further added.

The third generation of three families come together every year to celebrate the festival.

The Durga Puja celebrations at the Bishaya residence is very simple as they give all importance to the aesthetics rather than cosmetics, so probably the number of people visiting the pandal has decreased over the years.

Purity is almost an obsolete thing these days, I must confess and this is one of the main reasons that people mostly avoid visiting pandals that don’t give much attention to lighting and other gizmo jazz.

From Barasha ba, I came to know that they have maintained the tradition as it is and have not allowed the prevalent cosmetic makeover to touch their family puja.

The only change they have made is the discontinuation of fireworks during Vijaya Dashami.

“Earlier, during bisarjan (immersion), we used to have a lot of fireworks and used to rope in artists especially from Barpeta to carry out the fireworks. But we decided to discontinue it owing to safety reasons,” she informed.

Some changes are for good and discontinuation of fireworks is certainly a positive step.

Durga Puja came and with Devi’s bisarjan it ended and in between it inked some memories. The memories inked this year will certainly help me survive the remaining 360 mundane days of the year ahead.

The Devi will come again next year!

The Durga Puja at the Bishaya residence is definitely the place I would love to be at every year.

The motions, with which I went through, were shared by my friend Ashasmita as well who accompanied me to the puja.

“It was definitely an exhilarating experience. Away from maddening jazz, this puja certainly has a lot for people like us who seek for an opportunity to escape the humdrum of daily life,” she said as we made our way back.

This is not just a puja, but a confluence of tradition and three generations of bonding.

As said earlier, I belong to the old school, so there are not much photographs to share,

Shubho Vijaya Dashami to all!

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