FANUSH ~ PAPER MADE HOT AIR BALLOONS
~ Paper made Hot Air Balloons ~
The following documentation is made at the Dutt family at Bholanath Dham, Beadon Street, Calcutta
Also see: My compilation on Fanush
Fanush (ফানুস, also spelt as Phanush or Phanus), paper made hot air balloon, was once the integral part of North Calcutta (Kolkata) “Babu” Culture. Today the art of Fanush making is a dying art as the new generation has shifted its attention into other sources of entertainment.
The Fanush operates in the same principle of a hot air balloon. The air inside the Fanush is heated by a cloth rag ball (locally called Luti) soaked in spirit. The Nuti is attached to the base of the Fanush.
Probably started by the Dey family of Darjipara of North Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1912 Fanush flying was a regular activity on the late afternoon of Kali Pujo in the Darjipara and Beadon Street areas.
Apart from the conventional balloon shape the fanush also came in a host of different shapes. Pitchers, stars, footballs, ducks, kettles and even the planet of Saturn.
The Dutts of Bholanath Dham on Beadon Street is an exception and they have kept the tradition alive by flying nine different Fanush. Apart from conventional styles Dutt’s Fanush also consists of Football & Clock.
Lead by the 84 year Jadavlal Dutta and assisted by his son Ajoy Dutta the Duttas of Bolanath Dhan are still keeping the tradition of Fanush making & flying alive.
The Duttas of Bholanath Dhan on Beadon Street North Calcutta (Kolkata) released nine Fanushes on the late afternoon of Kali Pujo 2010. The process started at about 3:30 pm and continued till 5:00 pm, although it is largely dependent on the weather & wind condition.
The first of the lot was a conventional shaped hot air balloon with Red & White squares. The white squares were marked with Bengali Alphabets.
As per tradition it was released from the square courtyard at the centre of the house. The launch of the Fanush requires remarkable skill because the Fanush fulled by the hot air form the Methylated Spirit fire makes its way through the narrow courtyard up into the heaven. A slightest mistake can lead into a disaster.
The second Fanush was again of conventional shape with multi – coloured squares. As per tradition, like the first one, it was released from the square courtyard at the centre of the house. The launch of the Fanush requires remarkable skill because the Fanush fulled by the hot air form the Methylated Spirit fire makes its way through the narrow courtyard up into the heaven. With the fire burning a slightest mistake can set the entire house into flame leading to a disaster.
The third fanush was again a conventional baloon shaped but unlike the previous two it was let out from the terrace of Bholanath Dham. The fanush with bright green and orange vertical stripe created a striking contrast against the pink coloured Dutt residence of Bholanath Dham with the backdrop of the deep blue sky..
Fourth was shaped like a football consisting of white hexagonal and orange pentagonal pieces. It was let off from terrace of Bholanath Dham. Sadly it caught off only seconds after take off and turned into a ball of fire, crashing into the pavement of Bedon Street. Luckily the pavement was empty and no one was injured or any damages done.
The fifth was also spherical shape but had vertical stripes it too was let off from the terrace of Bholanath Dham. I changed position to get a bird eye view of the launch. It made its way towards the heavens with a host of family members of Bholanath Dham clapping and cheering.
The sixth fanush was probably the most interesting among the nine fanush’s let off from Bholanath Dham on Kali Puja 2010. Shaped as a clock it was let out from the terrace. But the most interesting part of it is that the hands of the clock were fixed seconds before the launch, indicating the exact time of the launch.
The seventh was again a convetional baloon shaped fanush with bright coloure black & yellow stripes and it made its way towards the heavens from the terrace of Bholanath Dham.
For the eighth fanush it was back again in the courtyard, i remained in the terrace to catch the conventional shaped fanush moments after it makes his way above the Bholanath Dham.
The ninth and the last fanush was the largest of the lot. Shaped as a conventional balloon it towered with a height of above six feet and had horizontal stripes of blue, white and red.
It was let out from the terrace of Bholanath Dham with about half a dozen members of the Dutta family struggling to keep the six feet high fanush erect. Finally one of the family members climbed a high stool and let it off for the heavens.
Ajoy Dutt, Jadavlal Dutt and all members of the Dutt family of Bholanath Dham.
Links from my website: More Photos
List of my Blog entries on Calcutta (Kolkata)