~ 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.

1 - 2 -3 Up she goes.....

1 – 2 -3 Up she goes…..

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.

Preparing for the lift off

Preparing for the lift off

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 lift off

The lift off

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.

Heading for the skies

Heading for the skies

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.

Left: Football shaped Fanush, Right: Sherical Fanush

Left: Football shaped Fanush, Right: Sherical Fanush

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.

Left: 4:15 take off time, Right: 7th Fanush

Left: 4:15 take off time, Right: 7th Fanush

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.

Up above the Bholanath Dham

Up above the Bholanath Dham

Up she goes.....

Up she goes…..

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.

Special Thanks:

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)

  1. October 28, 2011 at 1:09 PM

    what about 2011?

    • October 30, 2011 at 8:44 PM

      Sourabh, the event also happened in 2011.

  2. November 7, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    wonderful description , Helpful for my set in flcikr

    On its way ..
    • November 7, 2011 at 11:57 AM

      Thanks Haim for the comments. Wonderful collection of photos from Dhaka. Sadly the Fanush in Calcutta are let off during the day, so we don’t get the night glow.

      Would like to visit Dhaka for the event.

  3. Ajoy Dutt
    April 11, 2012 at 7:33 PM

    U r invited to our house “Bhola nath Dham” on 13-11-2012 (Kali Puja) for taking photography of Fanus at 2.30 P.M.
    From Ajoy Dutt.

    • Ishita Roy
      September 18, 2012 at 1:03 PM

      With your kind permission, I would like to uphold this wonderful tradition of Bhola nath Dham in our students’ newspaper TTIS- The Telegraph In Schools
      TTIS Reporter

    • Dipankar Kundu
      November 21, 2016 at 3:44 PM

      lost your cont. no. please cont…. Dipankar Kundu

  4. April 14, 2012 at 10:45 PM

    Thanks Ajoy babu. I will definitely contact you.

    December 3, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    can you tell me how to make fanush
    i am very much interested abot that but dont know what is the method

  6. vishalrathod76
    April 4, 2013 at 8:17 AM

    Wonderful colorful post . Enjoyed .

    Travel India

  7. May 20, 2013 at 2:52 AM

    Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article.
    I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information.
    Thanks for the post. I will certainly comeback.

  8. June 25, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    what is this Bholanath Dham.(meaning), looks like a building. If so , can you give me the details , how many years old etc. plz send it to my e mail. ( I am making a study with that logo on the top of the building).

    • June 25, 2013 at 5:33 PM

      Dear Sab Powen, Bholanath Dham in the residence of the Dutts. Literally means the house of Shiva (Bholanath is another name of Shiva, while dham meens house). Dutts bought the building in 1925 and modified it. Not sure when the original building was constructed.

      The logo on the top shows Goddes Kamala Kamini. I am sending some more details in the mail.

  9. November 1, 2013 at 12:27 PM

    thanks sir nice pics 🙂

  10. Krishanu Dutta
    October 16, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    Hello Rangan Da,
    May I know if the event will take place this year? I would love to write a story about it.
    The Telegraph.

    • October 22, 2014 at 8:24 PM

      Yes Krishanu, it will happen this year also. Kali Puja day 3:00 pm. I will be there, hope to meet you.

  11. October 18, 2014 at 6:06 PM

    Those are lovely pics….Didn’t know they were called Fanush..been flying it all this time.


  12. Subhojit Dey
    February 6, 2016 at 8:04 PM

    Where can i buy these?normal ones?in kolkata…cheap ones would be appreciated..

    • January 14, 2018 at 6:30 PM

      Dear Subhojit, the normal ones are now widely available during Kali Puja.

  13. Md Mafizul Islam Manik
    November 7, 2017 at 1:18 PM

    fanus word first origin from?

    • January 14, 2018 at 6:29 PM

      Interesting question but I don’t know the answer.

  14. Lekha C
    January 2, 2018 at 11:07 AM

    Please tell me where can I buy these in Kolkata?

    • January 14, 2018 at 6:28 PM

      This are not for sale, these is more of hobby and passion.

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