Cassian Baliarsingh

Time has come when all in the states like West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Bihar and Odisha soak in the mood of Durga Puja festivities. Specifically, in West Bengal, it is the most-awaited festival, a five-day-long extravaganza. No Bengali wants to stay away from home to enjoy the festival.

Similarly, every non-Bengali wants to experience it, at least. When it comes to Bengalis living in Bhubaneswar and its nearby areas, they too celebrate the festival with equal fervour, staying rooted to their tradition.

They all assemble at once place and offer puja to Devi Durga.

Kali Bari in Ashok Nagar is the place where they worship the goddess. Kali Bari literally means Goddess Kali’s abode or house. In the name of Kali Bari Samiti, there are committees across the nation, associated with Bengalis.

Way back in 1965, some 15 to 20 like-minded Bangalis joined hands to celebrate Durga puja in Ashok Nagar area. 25 years later, a Kali temple came up in the same locality and the place has since been known as Kali Bari. In the initial stage, the budget was something around Rs 1000.

As of now, while around 4000 Bengalis gather at Kali Bari to celebrate the puja, the puja budget has also gone up. 

President of Kali Bari Puja Samiti, Sudhanshu Marik describes how their puja pandal stands out from the rest. “We share the puja budget. While someone bears the cost of idol making, someone takes charge of prasad and someone else takes the onus of procession. I want to mention about the participation of Mukund Mohan Maiti. He is such a member who has been bearing the cost of pandal for last 30 years. An artisan from Kolkata makes our idol,” says Marik.

The claim of fame of Kali Bari Puja Samiti is following rituals in their true sense.

“We have never been in the race of best pandals, setting up sky-kissing ones resembling foreign and domestic palaces and historical places. We have always been giving importance to strict observance of rituals,” Marik adds.

“We observe all the rituals as per our tradition. The most unique tradition our women observe on Dashami tithi is ‘Sindoor Baran Utsav’,” he adds.

Describing what the ‘Sindoor Baran Utsav’ is, Rupa Marik and Alo Dey say, “We assume goddess Durga as our daughter who visits us for five days. On Dashami, we bid her farewell as we do to our daughter to her in-law’s house.”

“Adorned in traditional new attire, we stand in a queue at the pandal, waiting for our turns. We carry sindoor and sweets with us. When one’s turn comes, she goes onto the pandal, offers sweets to the goddess and applies sindoor on her forehead. After coming down from the pandal, she applies the same sindoor on her forehead, seeking the blessings of the goddess for the well beings of her family and the longevity of her husband. Later, all the women apply the same sindoor to one another. Finally, we bid a teary farewell to goddess Durga,” they added.