A family tradition that began in 1722 with the worship of goddess Durga at a house continues in the one narrow lane in the Rajabazaar area in the northern part of the city.
Durga Puja, West Bengal’s biggest annual festival, will be held all over in less than a week.
At first glance from the outside the place does not look much different from many other old buildings. But when one enters the house a raised cemented platform can be found in the courtyard. This is where the pujas are being held, year after year, for more than 290 years.
“This puja was famous in the British era and was attended not only by Indian aristocrats but also by several British officers,” said Mookerjee, as he points to the separate stairs which were reserved for the British guests to reach their rest room on the second floor of the house after witnessing the rituals of worship.
Even in this age of big-budget theme pujas, the Mookerjee family’s puja still remains a crowd-puller with many revellers drawn there for a taste of its rich heritage.
Nostalgia remains strong. The rusty chandelier and the old ceiling fan bear witness to a bygone era that comes alive, as if in defiance of time, with the Durga pujas.
“It all started when Harinath Mookerjee, one of my forefathers, came to Kolkata in 1722 leaving his ancestral house in Godalpara village in Chandanagore in the State’s Hooghly district,” says Indranil Mookerjee, a third-year student in a city college.
Family legend has it that Harinath brought with him a metal pot that was found by his grandfather while ploughing the fields. On finding the pot, Harinath’s grandfather received divine instructions in a dream saying that he was to worship Durga each day.
“It has over the decades turned into an annual family ritual. Come next week, another chapter will have been added to this tradition stretching just a decade short of three centuries,” adds Indranil.