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Exploring Royalty in Traditional Bengali Silk Sheen

Durga Puja celebration in Bengal is filled with the colours of devotional zeal, mythological legends, detailed rituals, decorative pandals and magnificent idols of the divine Mother Goddess along with...

Durga Puja celebration in Bengal is filled with the colours of devotional zeal, mythological legends, detailed rituals, decorative pandals and magnificent idols of the divine Mother Goddess along with her children. Durga Puja, a celebration of the victory over evil, known for accession and preservation of power, is one of the most important festivals for the Bengalis across the world. During this season the Bengali community gets an opportunity to spread the festive bliss within their knowns and relatives.  

They unite themselves and rejoice to their heart’s content in this celebration. Hence, when a fellow Bengali is asked, “What is so special about Durga Puja?” he/she will first have a good laughter and then will ask you back “Are you an alien? Ask me – what is NOT so special about Durga Puja?” Yes! So scintillating and exciting those four days are! An atmosphere of thrill and fanfare is deeply felt with this festivity. And Bengalis across the world feel this festival to be a wonderful occasion to re unite with their friends and families in various ways. The Puja fever grips every Bengali’s heart in the city irrespective of age, caste, class and gender. With incomprehensible emotions of togetherness the Bengalis welcome Goddess Durga with her children, along with the mighty demon Mahisasura.

The first traditional celebration of Durga Puja in Bengal is not known to many.  But it could be traced back to the late 1500s.  However, folklores had it that, the landlords or zamindars of Dinajpur and Malda first initiated the first Durga Puja in Bengal.

These zamindars reflected the European system of serfdom. They were credited for the cultural, architectural, educational, economical development and urbanization of Calcutta. During the renaissance period of Bengal, especially under the British colonial rule, the feudal lords or zamindars were seen dominating most of the villages of Bengal. Like Italian Renaissance, the Renaissance of Bengal fostered by “Babuna culture” ushered the era of humanistic idealism and challenged the orthodox social convention. The then undivided Indian Calcutta was aptly renamed as “City of Palaces”, where the “Babus” could live lavishly.

A tradition driven by high luxury and rich class, it is said that the ‘Babus” learnt to drink in their mother’s womb and were raised by the maids and servants. Keeping “kepts” in their youth and entering the “Andar Mahal” of the palaces were part of the culture which was against the orthodox conventional society. It was later said that, the zamindars of the era became the residents of Calcutta to enjoy the pleasures of the city life. They indulged in various type of entertainment from mujra and mehfil to being part of “Baiji Gaan”. Most of the time they engaged themselves with “wine, women and song”.

However, cultures gradually started differentiating. On one hand they showered these women with traditional Bengali Silk sarees and gold ornamentations.On the other hand, by participating in the traditional and cultural rituals of Durga Puja celebration, they gave women a special stratum in the society. The “Babus” constantly kept competing with one another to organize the most impressive fairs, decorations and entertainment for the officers of the East India Company and their near and dear ones. And these festivities especially centered around music, dance, drama and luxurious feasts, that continued for the rest of the month.

Durga Puja being oldest cultural festivals of Bengali royal families, “It became like an old saying in the 19th century Kolkata that Ma Durga on her four days sojourn from her heavenly adobe first reached Sib Krisna Daw’s house at Jorashanko. She put on her jewellery there. Then the goddess went to the house of Abhay Charan Mitra to have her ‘Bhog’. Finally, in the evening, she reached Sovabazar Rajbari where elaborate arrangements were made to receive Her. Facts are also corroborated in the contemporary writings,” said P Daw, a descendent of the family. The famous Daw family ornamented the Goddess with ruby, pearl and diamonds specially brought from Paris and Germany. They also adorned the Devi with a material called “tabak”. “Tabak” is a material made out of brass and copper. This gave a massive effect to the celebration. Due to its gorgeous effect, it immediately became the talk of the town and pulled up endless spectators.

Durga Puja, in Jorashanko Thakur Bari the Goddess was adorned with solid gold ornaments. But, Thakur Bari’s pomp was little dull than Daw family’s ormanmental decoration of the Mother Goddess.

However, the zamindari systems was abolished after independence.The cultural values of Bonedi – Bari Durga Puja in Bengal still prevails as the families till date perform Durga Puja with dedication maintaining all the rituals and customs of the festival.

Barowari Pujas conducted by several clubs and associations are the special attraction of present day Durgotsav. Latest themes of Pandals and idol are the talk of the town.

Today, Durga Puja in every pocket of the city of Kolkata is truly an aesthetic treat! Signature style music flows through the air. The aroma different types of sweets tickle the taste buds of sweet lover Bengalis in the country. And of course, the traditionally dressed women are a delight to the eyes during this season. Yes, Durga Puja gives the Bengalis enough opportunity to spruce up their traditional style.

Women elegantly drape themselves in traditional Bengali silk sarees or cotton sarees for the celebration. The quintessential white with red border sarees is extremely common amongst Bengali women. However, colours of these traditional Bengali Tant sarees are just not limited to white only. The women in the younger generation are spoilt for the choice of colours from green to gold.

Hence, whether the Bengali silk sheen or elegant cotton fabricScience Articles, women should pick up  sarees for traditionalizing themselves by draping them in the Bengali way!

Make this Durga puja special with the rare and traditional collection of sarees from the brand Banglar Silk!

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Shrabani has a wide knowledge on religious festivals, fashions and Indian traditions. Her academic background in Literature and Journalism has given her a broad base from which she has approached many topics on religious festivals, fashions and Indian traditions professionally through the blogs and articles.

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