GUWAHATI, Oct 20 - There are ample reasons to believe that Durga Puja originated in the ancient Kamarupa kingdom during the Purana famed Hari-Hara Battle. Shakti seat Kamakhya temple is also another testimony to the prevalence of Durga Puja in ancient Kamarupa, said noted writer Kumudeswar Hazarika.
Referring to the round bronze plaque found in the Kahilipara area of the city long back during an archaeological exploration, Hazarika said that the plaque, which depicts the face of the Trinayani (three-eyed) Durga with the head of the butchered buffalo, is dated back to the ninth or tenth century AD. This is also another testimony to the age of the practice of Durga Puja in Kamarupa, he said.
Regarding Durga Puja celebration by individual families in Guwahati, he said that the first known family Puja was started by Ahom prince Yuvaraj Ghanakanta Singha at the Uzanbazar Rajbari in 1889 AD. Some historians like late Sadananda Chaliha, are of the view that the Uzanbazar Rajbari Puja was started by Yubaraj Ghanakanta�s father Swargadeo Chandrakanta Singha in 1821 AD. Chandrakanta Singha was in Gauhati then because of the political turmoil in Upper Assam. But, this belief is not substantiated by any historic records, said Hazarika.
However, it is a fact that the oldest family Durga Puja in Gauhati started at Uzanbazar Rajbari. In course of time, the royal family became unable to bear the expenses of the Puja and it was handed over to the people. Thus, the Puja came out of the Rajbari and finally reached the Uzanbazar Barowari Puja Mandap in 1930. And Barowari is still its venue.
Another royal family Puja in Gauhati was held by the family of the queen of Luki, a tributary state of the Ahom kingdom near Boko in the undivided Kamrup district, inside her Panbazar Ranibari area residence. However, this Puja was started by the Luki queen during the early 20th century. This Puja is now held by the local people of Ranibari, the place which got its name after the settlement of the Luki queen there.
Some century-old family Durga Pujas are there in some of the Guwahati families. But, which one of them is the oldest is yet to be ascertained. Of these family Pujas, Lakhiprasad Baruah�s family Puja at Uzanbazar is one of the old family Durga Pujas of Gauhati. However, when it started in Gauhati is still not known. The family used to hold this Puja at their Teok Janjhi native place since the Ahom era. The family migrated to the present-day Nalbari district during the Burmese (Myanmarese) invasion. Later it was shifted to Gauhati, said Hazarika.
Lakhiprasad was the grandfather of late Natyaprabhakar Satyaprasad Baruah.
Babu Chunilal Dey, one of the four first-batch Cotton College teachers, started holding Durga Puja in 1901 at his Panbazar residence opposite the Nagpota Pukhuri.
There are some family Durga Pujas in Guwahati, which were started about 100 years back. Among them are the Ulubari GS Road Deb Kutir Durga Puja and the Manipuri Basti GS Road Bhadra family Durga Puja. The Deb Kutir Durga Puja was started by late Suresh Chandra Deb. The Bhadra family�s Durga Puja is more known as the Bijulee Mill Durga Puja.
The family Puja started by Srimanta Sen, father of Rai Bahadur Kalicharan Sen at their native village Palang in Faridpur district of present-day Bangladesh, was shifted to the Panbazar Danish Road Senbari in 1907. It is another old family Durga Puja of Guwahati.
The family Puja of the Bishayas of Uzanbazar, which was started by late Baradakanta Bishaya, attained the age of 87 this year. Baradakanta was the father of noted businessman-cum-social worker and lyricist late Kshirodakanta Bishaya and great grandfather of well-known actress Barasarani Bishaya, said Hazarika.