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Durga Puja in Kolkata

Several reference from the Ramayana and Mahabharata along with other Puranas state that the deity has been worshipped from around 400 A.D. People in Mahenjodaro and Harappa Civilization used to worship the deity as well. The puja is popular mainly among the Bengalis.
The first Durga puja, as far as the record goes started in 16th Century in Rajshahi and in 18th Century in Nadia District. During the later half of the 18th Century Durga Puja gained much popularity in Bengal. Though it was a grand festival but it was restricted only among the elite class.
In 1761, the first "Baroyari" Durga Puja was held in Gooptipara, Hoogly. They formed a committee and accepted donations to organize the Durga Puja. Thenceforth, the community pujas in Bengal were known as 'Baroyari - 'baro' means 12 and 'yar' means friends.

However, in Kolkata, the first 'Baroyari 'Durga Puja started in by 'Sanatan Dharmotsahini Sabha' at Balaram Basu Ghat Road, Bhawanipur in 1909. Simultaneously, other baroyari pujas held in Ramdhan Mitra Lane and Sikdar Bagan. In 1926, Atindranath Bose started the first "Sarbojonin" Durgotsav which means people irrespective of caste and creed could take part in the festival. This was done to infuse the feeling of togetherness. Since then, the popularity of Durga Puja gained mass acceptance in West Bengal.

Over the years, the ritualistic aspect gave way to crowd pulling capacity for the Sarbojonin Durga Pujas. Earlier, the pandals, made of clothes on bamboo framework with gas lights and crowd used to see the Durga idol which replaced by grandeur of the puja in recent times. Slowly, Dugra puja with time took a corporate look which involves large amount of money. Nowadays people from different parts of the world come to witness the biggest festival of the autumn season.
The sculpture of the idol also has gone though many changes. Earlier, Durga was described with her four children, Ganesha, Laxmi, Saraswati and Kartikeya under the same frame work. But nowadays, since 1980s these four idols are made separately and in different forms to attract more crowds.
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