Bonedibari Durga Puja Art

Irrespective of social standing or location, most of these ‘bonedi bari’ (loosely translated as aristocratic family homes) pujas followed certain traditional norms when it came to art. The idol had to be ‘ek chala’, that is, all five figures were fused into a single entity and stood against a single backdrop. Idol decorations were made either of ‘shola’ (Indian cork) - a dried milky-white spongy plant matter - or gold and silve foil.

There were no pandals, since most of the homes had their own ‘thakur dalan’ or courtyards attached to a private temple. Many of them still have their idols crafted within the home, instead of sourcing them from idol makers outside. The courtyards would mostly be done up with flowers, banana tree trunks, and earthen pots smeared with vermillion. Again, much of this remains, since most ‘bonedi bari’ pujas take pride in following centuries-old customs. Without exception, traditional styles tend to be heavily Indian, with little or no Western influences. Facial and physical features are often exaggerated to highlight expressions. Around the idol-making workshops, countless smaller stalls sell craft decorations, ornaments and weapons for the idols in gold and silver foil, glittering ‘zari’ and brocade, white shola, or even thermocol.