When the entire Bengal, nay India, was under the British rule, inspite of being under the French administration at that time Chandannagar created a distinct tradition. Jagadhatri Puja is a major socio-cultural event in this region.
The ancient history of Jagadhatri Puja in Chandannagar is unknown even today. It is heard that Indranarayan Chowdhury introduced the Jagadhatri Puja in Chandannagar in the manner of King Krishnachandra of Krishnanagore. The time of beginning of Jagadhatri Puja in Krishnanagore was 1762. Indranarayan Choudhury died in 1756. So Indranarayan Choudhury by no means introduce the Jagadhatri puja in Chandannagar. The beginning of Jagadhatri puja in Chandannagar probably dates back earlier than 1750. Indranarayan Choudhury performed the Jagadhatri puja at his own house in Chandannagar, at the time Krishna Chandra used to come to borrow money from Indranarayan Choudhury. Perhaps Krishnachandra was attracted to greatness of Jagadhatri at this time.
The formal difference between Durga and Jagadhatri occurs in ‘Mayatantra’ and Jagadhatri is mentioned with reference to Durga in Krishnanda’s ‘Tantasaar’. The ruling to perform the special puja of the goddess on the ninth lunar day of the light fortnight in the month of Kartick has ben referred in ‘Krityatattarnab’ by Srinath Acharyachuramoni of the 15th-16th century. The fourhanded goddess is carried by the lion everywhere, an elephantlies of the feet of the lion. The idol has an old fashioned shaping, i.e. the face cutting is of a longish pattern; it has large eyes spread upto the years and the four hands display conch, discus, shaft, and bow respectively. The snake is her sacred thread.One of the main attraction of Jagadhatri idol of Chandannagar is the ornamental decoration of the goddess with sola and beautiful canvas of mats with painting at the back of the image.
The Jagadharti Puja was first started by Maharaja Krishnachandra of Krishnanagar, Nadia in Bengal. Jagadhatri Puja is very popular in Krishnanagar, Rishra, Chandannagar, Bhadreswar, Hooghly, Boinchi.
The Jagadhatri puja of Bose family, Palpara, deserves a special mention in this regard. The puja of this family initially used to be held in their ancestral home in Murshidabad. Folklore has it that this puja was started in 1788. The puja was later shifted to its present location in Chandannagar, where many of the family members now live. The exact history of the deity is unknown, but family records date it back to 1640. The beauty of the festival in Chandannagar is mainly due to the collaborative conception between the French and Bengalis . Remarkable feature remaining its’ procession , second largest in the world after Rio de Janeiro’ s , with its’ magnificent lightings.
Jagaddhatri figures in the semi-historical fictional work ‘Anandamath’ written by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, from which book the national song of India “Vande Mataram” is taken. In the novel, Kali, Durga and Jagaddhatri are depicted as three aspects of ‘Bharat Mata’ (Mother India) – Jagaddhatri as the mother used to be, Kali as the mother now is, Durga as the mother will be in future. The trio of goddesses are shown as the object of worship of a group of ascetics who form the protagonists of the story.
The number of community pujas in Chandannagar, Bhadreswar and Champdany Municipal areas crosses 190 mark. Of these, 161 Puja committees in different localities in Chandannagar and Bhadreswar areaffiliated to the Chandannagar Central Jagadhatri Puja Committee. The Central committee renders all possible assistance to its constituents in getting permissions and clearances for holding Puja. The immersion procession is really memorable and enjoyable sight to witness which lakh of people throng in Chandannagar from far and near. The beautiful decorated tall images loaded on trucks are taken around the city in a procession.
Tamosa ma jyotirgamay : Oh Mother! take me to the world of light from darkness! The concept of illuination of mind is also related to the illumination of the world. And so in each and every festival of India ‘light’ symbolises a desire for a brighter tomorrow. The concept of ‘light’ in festivities is universal and has been conceived as a strong unifying force.
Technological advancement in all walks of life has had its deep impact on the concept of lighting as well – from the archaic concept of lighting with oil lamps to candle lights on to carbide gas lights, tulip lights , tube lights, chandeliers and twinklings.
When it comes to discussing the latest and creative in lighting, the name of Chandannagar can not escape mention. About 5,000 people in Chandannagar alone and about 40,000 in the entire Hooghly district and its neighbourhood are engaged in someway or the other in this industry. The artisans here offer a scintallating range of splendour and spectacle. Multi-coloured tulip bulbs fitted on woven wires, create a semblance of motion through lights generating images of moving bicycles, cars, trains, buds bloosoming into flowers, fire-spitting dragons and so on.
In fact, there is no end to Chandannagar creations. Innovations in creating images through lighting on contemporary issues like Amatya Sen receiving the Nobel Prize, tennis ace Leander Paes making a serve, cricketer Sourav Ganguly driving a magnificient shot regale the onlookers. The craze for lighting is not restricted to the puja pandals alone, but even in sports events, corporate events, wedding etc with cost ranging between Rs 2,000 to five lakh or even more.
It is difficult to say why Chandannagar became the centre of light industry. Some say that it may be due to the special flavour attached to the local festivals which have given the impetus to the proliferation of this unique craft. There has always been intense competition among the lighting artisans to outdo each other in terms of decoration. A pageant of floats and illumination precedes the immersion and every puja committee tries to make the best floats.
The wizards : Sridhar Das , Kashinath Neogie and so on.