Guwahati, Friday, October 11, 2013

City had one puja mandap about 100 yrs back
AJIT PATOWARY
 GUWAHATI, Oct 10 – During the World War-II (1939-1945), Guwahatians mainly used to offer their obeisance to Goddess Durga on the puja days at the Barowari Sarbajanin Puja Mandap, besides the temples like the Kamakhya, Ugratara etc, said noted writer Kumudeswar Hazarika, who is researching into the history of the city for the past about two decades.

 Hazarika, a retired principal of the city’s Sonaram Higher Secondary School, told this correspondent that the city had one community puja pandal in the form of Barowari Sarbajanin Puja Mandap, about 100 years back. This puja pandal might have its origin during the reign of Swargadeo Chandra Kanta Singha in 1821, according to historian late Sadananda Chaliha, said Hazarika.

This oldest community puja was earlier known as Rajbari Puja. It was shifted to Barowari around 1930, after being shifted to several other places, from the Uzanbazar Rajbari. Around 1821, Chandra Kanta Singha was taking shelter at the Rajbari, following the political turmoil in Upper Assam areas.

However, Hazarika said that there is no record of the Barowari Puja Mandap prior to 1894.

In the post World War-II scenario, when normalcy returned to Guwahati, there were 10 to 12 community puja pandals. Notable among them were-Barowari, Hari Sabha (1914), Kumarpara Santi Sabha, which is celebrating 75 years of its existence, Bharalumukh, Panbazar Railway Colony, Central Telegraph Office campus, Uzanbazar Jahajghat and Fancy Bazar Kalibari, which was located inside the Fancy Bazar and is now shifted to M D Sarma Road.

Besides, there were some family pujas-like the ones at the residence campus of Chunibabu (Prof Chunilal Dey, Indian Education Service, who joined the Cotton College in 1901 as a physics and chemistry teacher) at the present Hindustan Building and Triplex Building campuses, opposite Panbazar Nagkata Pukhuri. Raibahadur Kalicharan Sen's family puja (near Maharana Club campus) was also there in the Panbazar area of the town.

In the Uzanbazar area of the town, the puja held at the residence campus of Praneswar Baruah (grandfather of Natya Prabhakar Satya Prasad Baruah), at the residence campuses of Subha Baruah and Barada Bishaya were there during that period.

But the puja held at the residence campus of Chunibabu outshone all the community and individual family pujas by dint of its huge arrangements and strict adherence to religious rites, said Hazarika.