In a historic move, Kolkata’s 66 Pally Durga Puja has hired 4 priestesses to conduct this year’s Durga puja of the club instead of a priest.
After the puja committee’s veteran male priest passed away towards the end of last year, they decided it was time for a change, a rebellious but much-needed change.
The decision is being lauded by many as this is the first time women are going to conduct Durga Puja.
66 Pally’s Spirit Of Women Empowerment
This year, 66 Pally is high on women empowerment spirit and is smashing the patriarchy with their theme. ‘Maayer Haate Maayer Abahon’ which translates to ‘Mother goddess shall be worshipped by the mothers’, is their refreshing theme for this year.
To be able to do enough justice to the theme, they got in touch with Indologist and Priestess Nandini Bhowmik and her team members Ruma, Semanto and Poulomi and convinced them to get on board.
Pradyumna Mukherjee, senior office-bearer of the puja committee said, “As we told them about our theme, they were taken in by the idea.” This is the first time in the history of Durga Puja, that women will conduct an entire pujo.
In an attempt to give an insight behind their initiative, Pradyumna Mukherjee also added, “Being a woman cannot be the criteria of not appointing them. Don’t women make all the arrangements for conducting puja rituals in the household and para puja. If there can be women clay modellers, if there can be women organisers, why not women priestesses?”
Nandini Bhowmik And Her Team
An Indologist, Nandini Bhowmik along with three of her like-minded friends formed ‘Shubhamastu’, a wedding ritual performing team of priestesses. She merges traditional values with modern beliefs and presents a fresh view of age-old rituals.
With that inspiring thought, puja committee member, Mr. Mukjherjee also stated, “Four women are all scholars having great command on scripture, professors in their respective fields, and fit the bill as a worshipper of the goddess in every possible way.”
Ruma Roy, Semanti Banerjee, and Paulomi Chakraborty, her team members are equally as educated as Nandini, and their services don’t just limit to weddings. They cover memorial services, housewarming rituals and various other rituals, with Durga Puja now being a new addition.
“We conduct rituals at social functions like marriage, rice ceremony and funeral. We do conduct grihoprobesh puja. We don’t believe in segregating men and women, in segregating between humans. We strictly follow the scriptures. We think the scriptures need to be interpreted and communicated in an appropriate manner to the modern generation”, Nandini said.
Earlier in 2020, ‘Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti’, a Bengali film released which portrayed the struggles of a woman who strives to be taken seriously and with respect as she tries to fulfill her dream of becoming a priestess.
This Ritabhari Chakraborty starrer highlighted the gender inequality and sexism that prevails in our society, which hypocritically worships arguably fictional goddesses but doesn’t treat real women with enough respect.
Shubhamastu has brought this story to real life with their incredible journey.
The Durga Puja
The khuti puja, which is the inauguration prayer for 66 Pally, will be conducted on 22nd August, which the 4 priestesses will perform. This will be followed by the five-day continuous worship of Maa Durga during the second week of October where the women’s real work begins.
The puja committee claims that if this year becomes a success and the priestesses agree, they don’t mind having them back next year and the following years as well.
So here’s to hoping Kolkata 66 Pally’s message spreads wide and clear in our nation and we see more women claiming their deserving roles.
Image Credits: Google Images
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The post is tagged under: Kolkata, Durga Puja, priestess, patriarchy, Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti, Ritabhari Chakraborty, 66 Pally, puja committee, veteran, male priest, rebellious, change, women empowerment, spirit, theme, Maayer Haate Maayer Abahon, Mother, goddess, mothers, Indologist, Priestess, Nandini Bhowmik, Pradyumna Mukherjee, Shubhamastu, Ruma Roy, Semanti Banerjee, and Paulomi Chakraborty, Ruma Roy, Semanti Banerjee, Paulomi Chakraborty, gender inequality, sexism, Bengali, film, generation, modern