Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Laha Bari history

The Laha family of Bidhan Sarani came to Kolkata from Burdwan around 250 years ago.

It is said that the Laha Bari Durga Puja, one of the famous Pujas of Kolkata started some 170 years ago.

Some say it was Ishwar Pran Krishna Low (pronounced as Laha) performed Durga Puja for the first time but another view point states that it was Sri Rajiblochan Low, Pran Krishna's father, who started it nearly 200 years ago. Spiritually inclined Rajiblochan Low, was said to have been visited in his dreams by his family Goddess who asked him to perform Durga Puja. The descendants of his three sons Pran Krishna, Naba Krishna and Bata Krishna continue to perform the puja in turn.

Unique form of Goddess in Laha Bari
You will not find the common form of the Goddess gracing the Mandap but an unique form of the Goddess can be seen which is the speciality of the Laha Bari Durgotsav. Here Durga is seen in the arms of Lord Shiva and her eyes are closed shut. The reasons being, Mother Durga bestowed a lot of wealth to the Low family.

Some unique rituals
The rituals commence on Saptami morning when the family idol, Jaya Jaya Maa arrives at the Natmandir. Goddess Durga is considered as the other form of this household goddess.
Animal sacrifices are not performed but vegetable and fruit sacrifices are done. On Dashami the Goddess is not carried on the shoulders as is done traditionally during immersion but she is carried in the arms of men who have been performing this task as a part of family lineage.

An interesting Annecdote
On Dashami, the day of immersion, the main gate of the Laha Bari remains closed. It is only after the immersion when someone calls out to the Goddess thrice from outside to ensure whether she is still there, the door is opened. This traditional ritual has an interesting anecdote to reveal. It was in the fourth generation of the family, Ishwar Durga Charan Low, who was washing his face after the immersion of the Goddess was continuously disturbed by a little girl looking for some alms. Unable to complete his bath peacefully he shoos the little girl away but later when he looks for her to perhaps give her something he finds her nowhere and found the main gate open. He believed that the little girl was no one but Goddess Durga herself.


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