The beauty of the Hindu religion is that the same God or Goddess is worshiped in multiple forms in the different times of the year or different regions. She may be Kaushiki, Chamundi, Kali, Kamakhya, Durga, or by many other names. As most of us are aware, the festivities associated with Durga Puja are different from that of Kali Puja, although it is the same Goddess in question. However, not many of us are familiar with the beautiful festival of Jagadhatri Puja 2019, where the city of Chandannagar rises in its full glory. With the Puja in full swing now, let us take a moment to discuss the history of this beautiful festival.
Jagadhatri Puja history
Most Hindu festivals owe their origin to the Vedic period or the Ramayana and Mahabharatha. The festival of Jagadhatri Puja is a tad bit different, and its celebration can be owed to the late Mughal period. Back then, the present-day district of Nadia celebrated Durga Puja in full festivity. Talking of the early 1700s, Maharaja Krishna Chandra was the ruler of Krishnanagar, and he ensured that the palace celebrated a lavish Durga Puja. The holy fire would be lit before ‘Mahalaya,’ and sacred hymns from Chandi would be recited for 15 straight days. Several thousand goats would be sacrificed, and the entire city would rejoice in the celebrations.
What happened in 1728 was an unfortunate event. Maharaja Krishna Chandra did not agree to give up his kinship to Nawab Aliwardi Khan. This led to the Nawab imprisoning the Maharaja and his son, Kumar Shiv Chandra. In order to yield the maximum results of this imprisonment, the Nawab played the dirty politics of ensuring that the father-son duo was imprisoned during the days of Durga Puja. They were released from prison on the day of Maha Navami.
The festival of Durga Puja meant a lot to the Maharaja, and with the extreme desire to worship the Goddess, he ran towards Krishnannagar. The long journey, coupled with hunger and sleep deprivation, caused him to pass out on the banks of Rukunpur. That night, the Maharaja saw an extraordinary dream. A divinely pretty maiden appeared and asked me to quench his thirst. She was sitting on a lion and conch shell, Chakra, bow, and arrow were the things on her hand. She then directed him to worship her in her current form in the next ‘Shukla Navami.’
The Maharaja was elated at this dream and rushed back to his kingdom. He then gathered the most enlightened pundits of the state to learn about this deity. It was then that he got to know of Goddess Jagadhatri, an incarnation of Devi Durga. It was in the year 1754 that Maharaja Krishna Chandra initiated the very first worship of Goddess Jagadhatri. Today, more than 250 years down the line, the Palace of Krishna Chandra still upholds the legacy and celebrates the festival of this Puja in full devotion.
Jagadhatri Puja at Chandannagar
Back in those days, although Krishnanagar was the center of rule, it was Chandanagar that was the business town. One of the richest businessmen of Bengal at that time was Indra Narayan Choudhury. He was in great terms with Maharaja Krishna Chandra, and that led him to initiate the worship of Goddess Jagadhatri in Chandannagar, a year following the establishment in Krishnanagar.
History knows that the Lakshi Gunj Bazar of Chandannagar was one of the busiest rice selling markets of Bengal. Every day hundreds of people (most of them from Krishnanagar) would accumulate here for business. Once it so happened that during the days leading to the Puja, it was pouring cats and dogs in Chandannagar. The adverse weather conditions prevented them from making their way back home. As this Puja was an essential part of their culture, this led them to worship the Goddess in Chandannagar. The culture of the Puja continues even today, and the ancient Devi Murti can be seen in the ‘Chaul Patti’ area of Chandanagar even today.
As the Jagadhatri Puja 2019 date culminates on the 6th of November, one can expect to see 250 pujas in Chandannagar. Although the festival owes its roots to Krishnanangar, it was the city of Chandannagar that has been upholding the grand heritage for generations. The grand procession beholds the spectacular worship of Goddess Jagadhatri. During this time of the year, millions of people rush to Chandannagar. With all the pandals trying to outdo each other, the city becomes a sight to behold.
This is the biggest festival in the towns of Chandannagar and Krishnanagar. With this giving you a chance to seeing a different avatar of the Goddess and revisit her, it may be well said as her second innings! On that note, wishing all of you a very Happy Jagadhatri Puja 2019.