|Goddess Jagadhatri, the three-eyed deity synonymous with Devi Durga, but with four hands.|
When the entire India (almost to be precise) is done with festive hangover, "Hold on, it's not over yet!", say West Bengal and some regions of Odisha, where Goddess Jagadhatri (or, pronounced as Jagaddhatri) is worshiped right at this time. Jagadhatri Puja can be considered as another Durga Puja, only differences being- idol of Goddess Jagadhatri has four arms, sons and daughters of the Goddess are not worshiped unlike Durga Puja and here She is not killing the buffalo-demon Mahishasura. 'Jagadhatri' means "one who holds the world" and by observing various idols of Jagadhatri I concluded that artistic quotient in Jagadhatri sculptures is marginally higher than Durga in 'Mahishasuramardini' form. In my humble opinion, due to lesser elements compare to Durga, Jagadhatri idols are more pleasing to our eyes and give more creative flexibility to idol artisans. In West Bengal, although Jagadhatri Puja is celebrated in majority of places, the hub of attraction for Jagadhatri Puja has always been Chandannagar, the ex-French-colony, currently a subdivision in Hooghly district, around eighty kilometers away from my hometown Bardhaman.
|Pandal of Uttaranchal Puja Committee portraying the French connection of Chandannagar.|
This year there are more than 200 places in Chandannagar where Jagadhatri Puja is being conducted... yes, a handsome statistic for a town of area 19 square kilometers only! Like Durga Puja, the concept of theme-puja has taken over traditional Jagadhatri Puja as well. Each and every puja organizing committee tries its level best to make the pandal theme more attractive than others to grab appreciation of crowd as well as trophies from sponsors on various parameters like idol decoration, theme, creativity, pandal, environment-friendliness etc. I was quite relieved to note the pro-activeness of puja committees in managing the huge crowd. There were ample volunteers as well as police staffs from the house of state Government to keep the festive air pollution-free from unwanted nuisances. Local people of the region seemed to be quite particular in critically analyzing the efforts of puja committees and freely expressing their opinions. Why won't they... after all the history of Jagadhatri Puja of Chandannagar dates back even earlier than 1750!
|A Jagadhatri Puja theme at Radhanath Sikdar Rd depicting village neighborhood.|
Ideally one should devote a full day and whole night to pandal-hop properly in Chandannagar Jagadhatri Puja, preferably by a judicious combination of walking and auto-rickshaws. I just had an afternoon for that purpose, so obviously I had to whirlwind along streets and bylanes of Chandannagar to get glimpses of as many Jagadhatri idols as I could and capture them in my camera. Good thing is you'll get a Jagadhatri pandal after every 50 meters or less! The lighting decorations are very special there which you can experience only if you pandal hop after the sun sets. Unfortunately I wasn't lucky this time for that either. But if I put it in another way, neither I would have enjoyed the dense crowd post evening hours nor my baby point and shoot camera could capture respectable night shots.
|The Jagadhatri Puja pandal of Ambika Athletic Club.|
The chief attraction of Chandannagar Jagadhatri Puja is the idol immersion procession on Dashami. If you live nearby or manage to visit the town, be there by the side of GT Road to witness a chain of beautifully decorated colossal idols of Jagadhatri riding on light-clad trucks heading for the idol immersion in the grandest possible manner. This year 57 puja committees would participate in the immersion ceremony procession... imagine what a memorable sight that would be! Another unique thing that I found in Chandannagar puja pandals was a registration number for each of them. On asking local people I came to know that Chandannagar Central Jagadhatri Puja Committee maintains a record of each of them, allotting their respective affiliation numbers. Special trains are also run during Jagadhatri puja days to accommodate increased influx of visitors to Chandannagar. There are ample auto-rickshaws and battery operated vehicles (apart from manual rickshaws of course) to aid to your local transportation. As a modest conclusion, I would highly recommend you to experience the former French colony during Jagadhatri Puja festival. Click on the "Read more" tab to checkout remaining nine photos and I'll come up with another photo story to show you artistic works from various Jagadhatri pandals. See you soon.
|Everyone busy to capture the tallest Jagadhatri idol of Chandannagar. It is 25 feet head to base and 35 feet in total!|
|The magnificent inside decoration of the pandal by Ambika Athletic Club!|
|All green Jagadhatri pandal at Circus ground, as beautiful as a fairy tale!|
|All metallic and household objects have been meticulously used by Moran Road Puja committee!|
|Inside the Jagadhatri puja pandal of Daibak para sarbojanin puja committee.|
|The pandal crafted by Pal para puja committee was in the shape of a traditional ship.|
|Inside the pandal of Talpukur puja committe.|
|Beautiful jute work in the pandal of Hatkhola Nonatola puja samiti.|
|জয়দে জগদানন্দে জগদেকপ্রপূজিতে... জয় সর্বগতে দুর্গে জগদ্ধাত্রি নমোঽস্তুতে...|