We all know Durga Puja is one of the biggest festivals in Bengal and as well as in India. And not only in India but in all corners of the world. In long years the Puja has changed in many ways. But one thing remained unchanged. That is the pure bliss, the joy, the excitement that has never changed throughout the years. The style of Durga Puja in Calcutta during the British period was a little different. Even before the British rule, the Durga festival was celebrated in Calcutta even during the Muslim period. Earlier, Durga Puja was not so glamorous at that time, then Raja Krishnachandra of Nadia was the first to bring great splendor to this festival. And seeing his glorious Durga Puja festival, those who became rich during the time of the British government also started the same glorious worshiping of goddess Durga.


Durga Puja Invitation In British Era

From the middle of the eighteenth century till the rule of the famous Act No. 10 of 1840, Durgoutsab was the best social festival in Calcutta irrespective of the class of the society. The joy of the natives in this festival is more than that of the company. From Esplanade to Enntali, from Latbahadur to normal clerk, no one could have dreamed of leaving Calcutta during Pujo. Most of the time they were almost ready to wait when Pujo’s invitations would come from different big houses.

Nemantanne ( Invitation) never made mistakes. During Durga Puja, Durga Puja tickets or invitation cards used to go to different houses. At that time generous advertisements were published for the common people on behalf of the big zamindars. Advertising was an invitation for everyone. Because Babura knew, even though the occasion was Durga, this festival was the festival of the company. In the beginning, just like the money given by the company, in the end, the only desire was to get the company’s favor.

British People Holiday During Durga Puja

In the late nineteenth century, British officers based in Calcutta started going out of Calcutta with their families during Durga Pujo. They went on vacations to various places in Shimla, Manali, Darjeeling. Following in the footsteps of the British, the Babu community in Calcutta at that time used to leave Calcutta. At that time, Durga Puja meant to them to travel outside Calcutta like the British. The Barwari Durga festival did not start in Calcutta at that time. Durga Puja used to perform only in the house of the big zamindar of Calcutta. Durga Puja was not performed in large numbers, as all the zamindars or big people in Calcutta used to travel outside Calcutta. At that time Pujo was not so glorious in Calcutta. But from that time onwards this touring tradition began. So far, the people of Kolkata have gone out of Kolkata for the Pujo holidays.

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Debt-Ridden Prisoners

Apart from various pleasures of dancing, singing, and drinking during the puja, the people of the Babu community in Kolkata used to free the prisoners who were in debt. In the old days, a class of prisoners could be released only if they repaid the loan. At that time some rich people used to repay their debts and release those prisoners. They used to release more English prisoners to please the British government. As a result, during the puja season or at the small causal court, a crowd of underage people would gather. They want to go to jail right now, before Pujo. Because there is the hope of liberation soon.

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50 Rupees Durga Puja

At that time British officials used to perform Durga Puja with their own money. One of the employees of the company used to do Durgotsab with his own money. He is John Chips, the famous manufacturer of Hunter’s Annals of Rural Bengal. The popular ‘Sree Chikbahadur’ of Birbhum. When Chips set foot in Calcutta as a writer for the company in 1782, he was only sixteen years old. Within a few years, it was heard that he had been appointed Auditor General of the company. In due course (1787) he was appointed the first commercial agent of the company in Birbhum. The company then traded in cotton, silk, lacquer, dyes, etc. Chips added to that, personal business. The company’s office was in Sonamukhi, and Chips’ home was in Surule, near Santiniketan. Shyamkishore, a descendant of Lord Singh of Raipur, was the dewan of chips.

He started Durga Puja in the words of his Dewan Shyamkishore to improve his business. Chips already knew about the british company’s official mood about Durgotsab. He organized the Durgo festival of the people with pomp and circumstance. And he used to believe that this Durga Pujo was the reason why his business flourished and every year Chips continued to perform Durga Pujo in his place. Mr. Chips used to spend only fifty rupees a year on this. Pujo costs only seventeen rupees. With the rest of the money, the people of the village used to get new clothes, and a full feast on the day of Mahasthami.

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Please note, this blog is solely about reading. It is not promoting or encouraging the idea of consuming alcohol in any form or manner. Modern science has progressed very much, and this is a humble request to all to visit or consult a doctor in any case of any medical emergency or need or guidance and follow only their advice. Alcohol consumption is injurious to health and the pursuittraveller does not support it. Be wise and chose wisdom.

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The Spanish flu happened in 1918. At that time, whiskey came up as medicine for liberation. We may be drinking at home to ease the mental and emotional fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. But in 1918, during the deadliest pandemic in modern history. People with the Spanish flu were prescribed whisky for medical benefits. There were so many people infected with that flu. At that time, it was not possible to measure anyone’s fever or blood pressure separately. Doctors had to prescribe a cup of hot whiskey.

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Whiskey Was Medicine

A report from 1919, almost a year after the first outbreak of the Spanish flu, the whole world was in confusion. The report said that scientists at the time were advising the use of whiskey for flu patients. This liquid had bought peace of mind and reduce stress. And that helped to reduce the incidence of the disease a lot.

Also, an article published in The Times of India in April 1919 reported that scientists recommended whisky for flu patients “not only as a stimulant but a sedative too. It induces a sense of well-being and freedom from anxiety, which was certainly a help in resisting infection”.

A moderate amount of whiskey was used to treat people who were suffering from depression due to the severity of that epidemic. Even doctors and in many parts of the world, including England and America, used this whiskey to disinfect their bodies with flu. Actually, the medical science of a century ago did not see the magic of antibiotics then. At that time, aspirin and weak weapons like Vix Vaporab were used to treat colds. So whiskey was an intoxicating drink at the time as well as a means of surviving the cold. Whiskey was often used to anesthetize patients during operations.

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The Treatment

The same picture appeared in the memoirs of Josie Mabel Brown, a nurse in the US Navy at the time. In 1918 she served in the Navy section of the Great Lakes area near Chicago. In the aftermath of the greatest epidemic in modern history, the sick patient had to be cared for equally for 16 hours or more a day. Masks and gowns have to be worn equally. But there were so many patients at that time that they could not measure anyone’s fever separately. About 6,000 patients were under their care at that time. There was no time to measure blood pressure. They had to continue the treatment with just a cup of hot whiskey.

However, it must be remembered that excessive consumption of alcohol reduces the body’s resistance to disease. Any disease does not want to be cured easily. Not only that, but drinking too much whiskey can lead to many deadly diseases.

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Doctors Debate About Whiskey’s Medicinal Merits

The medical world was split on whether or not whiskey might help with the flu or anything else. In 1916, the prestigious United States Pharmacopeia, which issued guidelines for prescription and over-the-counter drugs, removed whiskey, brandy, and wine from its list. The representative of The American Medical Association said that “the use of alcohol as a therapeutic agent should be discouraged.”

Still, many doctors continued to recommend and prescribe whiskey for the influenza pandemic. In a survey of physicians conducted by the American Medical Association, in 1922, 51% felt whiskey was a “necessary medicinal agent.

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Whiskey Sales Have Almost Tripled

Between 1918 and 1920, the Spanish flu wiped out 3 to 5 percent of the world’s population. But then everyone’s eyes were on the First World War. As a neutral country in the war, Spain did not have the manpower or the medical infrastructure to fight this epidemic. Even the king of Spain was infected with this disease. The situation in England at the time was also deplorable, as there were not enough doctors. So whiskey was an intoxicating drink at the time as well as a means of surviving the cold. Many states in the United States at the time allowed the free sale of whiskey as a treatment for flu. The same thing echoes in contemporary newspapers in Scotland and Ireland. People who drink whiskey are still a bit healthier on this scary day than the rest.

Strange figures are coming up in the statement of a whiskey seller published in a newspaper. He says sales have almost tripled since the epidemic began. Some are drinking soda, some are mixing it with East Cake or Quinine. Many said they came to buy whiskey on the advice of a doctor or after hearing from friends. There are many buyers who have never bought this drink before.

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