- The Goddess Bonbibi is worshiped by Hindu and Muslim communities in Bengal’s Sunderbans
- Bibi serves as an all-purpose surname by Muslim women. Bonbibi literally means lady of the forest
- Bonbibi festival is celebrated once every year in January and February
June 21, 2017: Bengal has sustained both Hindu and Muslim community for many years. Though a lot of difference exists in religious beliefs and practices of the two, one story sprouts similarity.
In Bengal’s Sunderbans, Goddess Bonbibi is worshiped by both the communities. The deity has been able to unite people from the two distinct religions. The Muslims can be seen as offering ‘bhog’, a Hindu tradition, to the goddess. In turn, interesting to note is the goddess’ name that ends with bibi- a predominantly Muslim women surname.
Historically, the goddess emerged as a protector of the fishing community, honey-gatherers and wood cutters from tiger attacks. Bonbibi literally means lady of the forest. It is a common belief that the goddess protects the forest and she never leaves the Sunderbans.
The devotees believe she was sent from the heavens to father Berahim and mother Golabibi in Mecca. The myth goes that two spiritual hats fell on her which helped her travel to Sunderbans. Upon arrival, she saw the forest to be ruled by man-eating tigers. Their tyrant god Dakhin Rai was responsible for human sacrifices.
Bonbibi defeated Dakhin Rai and helped the people live in a secure forest. The people thus considered Bonbibi a supreme being worthy of devotion. Since then, the village has been truthfully worshipping her.
– by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394