These Durga Pujas In Guwahati Are More Than 100 Years Old
GUWAHATI: Durga Puja is one of the biggest festivals celebrated after Bihu in Guwahati as well as entire Assam. The fanfare with which Durga Puja is celebrated in Guwahati is unparalleled, especially over the past few years. As per authorities, this year alone, a whopping 492 pandals are being constructed to observe the puja in different parts of the city. Out of these, 486 will be open to public while the rest are private pujas. However, as over the past few years, the fanfare, pomp and show have taken precedence in puja celebrations, there are still a few puja committees which have held on to older traditions and rituals. In fact some of these places have been organising Durga Puja for more than a century now. Here is a look at a few of the oldest puja celebrations in Guwahati.
Ahom Royal Family's Uzanbazar Barowari Puja Mandap Samiti (Since 1889)
The oldest Durga Puja celebration in Guwahati takes place at Uzanbazar’s Barowari Puja Mandap. The puja completed its 130th year this time.
Started in 1889 by Ghanakanta Singha Rajkumar of the Ahom royal family, the puja has been a regular affair since then. Initially started in Uzanbazar Rajbari, it was later shifted to Uzanbazar Barowari Puja Mandap permanently in 1934.
Like every year, this year, too, the organisers are expecting to observe the puja with all the rituals and a large number of devotees to throng the pandal to offer their obeisance.
Commemorating the celebrations last year, the puja committee had for the first time organised an Aarti singing competition on Saptami and Ashtami evenings. The prize money for the winners was fixed at Rs. 10,000 for the first prize, while the second prize was for Rs. 7,000 and the third prize was kept at Rs. 5,000.
Hari Sabha in Panbazar (Since 1915)
The Panbazar Sanatan Dharma Sabha (Hari Sabha) will complete 104 years of Durga Puja celebrations this year. It is one of the oldest Durga puja venues in Guwahati. The Hari Sabha puja is not only a place of congregation for the Hindus, but also for the Muslims from Lakhtokia area, who participate in organising the week-long celebrations. The Hari Sabha puja is more inclined towards spiritual worship.
Here Durga Puja is devoid of modern decorations and glitzy pandals and rather concentrates on worshipping through old Vedic rituals and culture. An interesting trivia associated with this place is that the idols for the puja have been sculpted by the same family from Jorpukhuri for over one hundred years now. Another trivia is that members of a single family have been sitting as priests for the puja since its inception.
Moreover, all the idols are aligned on the same platform and are not sculpted as individuals. During immersion, the Hari Sabha committee used to carry the idols on shoulders from the venue to the ghat. However, for the past three years, there has been a dearth of people to carry the idols, and so, the committee has been using a trolley instead.
West Guwahati Puja Samiti (Since 1901)
The Paschim Guwahati Durga puja has completed 118 continuous years of Durga Puja celebrations this time. The committee began holding the puja since 1901 opposite to the Bharalumukh Police Station at the Paschim Guwahati Puja Samiti Mandap. The puja follows the Puranic system of worship. As per reports, there is no animal or any other form of sacrifice made during this puja and it is purely spiritual in nature. The puja committee organises Ojapali, Nagara Naam, Aayotir Naam and Chandi Paath during the course of puja.