Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee today stepped into the role of a priest to conduct traditional rituals of ‘Mahasaptami’, the first day of Durga puja, at his ancestral house in Miriti village of Birbhum district.
“This is a much-awaited occasion in my life and I eagerly wait throughout the year to be at our ancestral house these four days,” the 77-year-old Congress leader told reporters at the end of the day’s puja.
Family sources said the Union minister’s grandfather Jangaleswar Mukherjee had introduced Durga puja, which entered its 117th year, at the Miriti house.
“I hardly missed the opportunity to be at Miriti to attend the puja, except in 1995 when I represented India at UN General Assembly and two or three times due to political reasons,” he said.
Security measures were in place at the ancestral house of the Mukherjees and metal detectors put up at the main entrance.
Reaching the Miriti house this morning from his elder sister’s house at Kirnahar, three km from here, Mr. Mukherjee, accompanied by his son Abhijit Mukherjee, Congress MLA, himself walked upto a canal of Kueye river for the formal bathing of the ‘Kalabou’ to mark the formal beginning of the 4-day Durga puja.
Back to the mandap, Mr. Mukherjee, wearing dhoti and anagavastram, carried out various rituals. True to the family tradition, the puja was simple and bereft of any grandeur.
Asked to comment on the significance of the Durga puja of his ancestral house, Mr. Mukherjee said, “I attach utmost importance to the puja which is our family tradition. I meet my family members here on this occasion.”
Away from the political humdrums, Mr. Mukherjee arrived at Kirnahar from Kolkata on Sunday with his wife Subhra Mukherjee to take part in Durga puja at his ancestral house.
Mr. Mukherjee’s son Abhijit, who also plays an active part in the festivities, reached earlier and looked after the arrangements during the occasion.