Friday April 20, 2018

Tripura’s unique Durga Puja is 500 years old and funded by state


Agartala: A Durga Puja that is over 500 years old and is sponsored by the Tripura govenrment continues to be a draw for devotees in northeast India as the royal family has kept its traditional sanctity.

Tripura, the northeastern state currently ruled by the Left Front led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist, is possibly the only one in India where the government continues to sponsor a over five century-old Durga Puja, that is also closely overseen by the erstwhile royal family.

With ‘Maha Sasthi’ or ‘Bodhan’ — the welcoming of the Durga idols — the five-day long Puja began on Monday at the famed Durgabari temple, located in front of the 114-year-old Ujjayanta Palace, eastern India’s biggest royal mansion.

“A few years after the beginning of the royal era in Tripura, the erstwhile kings started Durga Puja over 500 years ago,” Dulal Bhattacharjee, the octogenarian chief priest of Durgabari temple, told IANS.

He said: “The capital of the princely dynasty along with royal temple moved three different places – Udaipur, Amarpur and Puran Habeli before the state headquarters and the capital city along with the Durgabari temple settled in Agartala 177 years ago in 1838 by then Maharaja Krishna Kishore Manikya (1830-49).”

“The district magistrate of West Tripura earlier has to report in writing about the preparations at Durgabari to the former royal family and submit a final report after completion of the mega puja,” Bhattacharjee said.

“Now this practice has been slightly modified. However, every affair of the Dura Puja is approved by surviving elderly royal family member, Maharani Bibhu Kumari Devi,” he addeed.

Bhattacharjee has been getting Rs.6,000 as monthly honourium from the state government as chief priest of Durgabari temple.

Bhattacharjee, who is associated with the Durga Puja for more than 60 years, said it is on the final day of Dashami that the real splendour of the festival unfolds.

“The idols of Durgabari that lead the Dashami procession are the first to be immersed at Dashamighat here with full state honours, with the state police band playing the national song.”

As Bhattacharjee aged and became sick, his son Jayanta managed all traditional rituals of the puja. “The state government like in previous years has sanctioned Rs.3 lakh this year for the Durga Puja at this royal temple,” said junior Bhattacharjee.

Historian and writer Panna Lal Roy told IANS: “Tripura is the only Indian state where the state government, be it of the Left or non-Left parties, is at the forefront of funding such a Hindu puja. The tradition has been going on since Tripura’s merger with the Indian union and has been on during Communist rule in the state as well.”

A part of the fortress and royal mansion continues to be the abode of the former princely family and the remaining palace served as the Tripura assembly till 2009. It has now been turned into eastern India’s biggest museum conserving the history, life and culture of northeast India.

At the end of 517-year rule by 184 kings, on October 15, 1949, the erstwhile princely state came under the administrative control of the Indian government after a merger agreement signed between Kanchan Prabha Devi, then regent maharani, and the Indian governor general.

The merger agreement made it mandatory for the Tripura government to continue the sponsorship of temples run by the Hindu princely rulers. This continues even six-and-half decades after Independence.

A full-fledged division – Debarchan Vibhag – under district magistrates in four of Tripura’s eight districts now bears this responsibility and the entire expenditure of eight temples, including that of Durgabari, is met by the government.

“Before starting the five-day long worship of Durga and her four children, a procession led by the head priest, escorted by Tripura Police, goes to the palace to seek the consent of the former royal family to begin the puja of the deities at Durgabari,” said an official of the west Tripura district administration.

“A young buffalo, several goats and pigeons are sacrificed during the five-day festival at Durgabari in the presence of thousands of devotees – all at government expense,” the official told IANS.

People For Animals (PFA) chairperson Maneka Gandhi, currently union minister of women and child development, in a letter to the district magistrates earlier asked them to stop “cruel killing of animals in the temples” during religious festivities.

Historian Roy, who wrote many books on the royal era, said: “The Durga Puja in Durabari temple is unique in the sense that the prasad (holy offering) includes meat, fish, eggs and, of course, fruits.”

Though at least 2,500 community and about 100 family Durga Pujas are being held in Tripura, the Durga Puja at the Durgabari temple remains the main attraction for numerous reasons, including for its centuries old customs, kept alive by the royal family.

Traditional themes, prevailing issues and events continue to dominate puja pandals in the state with historical events forming part of the themes for decorations.

“Unlike in the past, there are no reports about extremists creating problems or asking people not to organise the puja. The number of Durga Pujas has also increased in rural and remote areas,” Tripura’s Inspector General of Police Nepal Das told IANS.

(Sujit Chakraborty,IANS)



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Shoot The Rapist At The Sight

 And which type is contributing more dangerously to the society can easily be measured with our simple plus and minus equation

This glaring aberration in the world of media is visible as clearly as stars in the darkness of the night.
India is plagued with a disease called Rape. Wikimedia Commons

Salil Gewali

  • India is plagued with a disease called Rape
  • There are no rigorous punishments for rape
  • Rapists openly commit crimes without anny fear

Why the clamour only for the rigorous punishment for rape and other sadistic crimes which have their roots in the mental-degeneration? Apart from the toughest punishment to the perpetrators, let’s go deeper to analyze what could be the possible  “causes”  that push men to commit rape. Why so much mental degeneration that certain individuals can stoop to the gutter being to their status, their position and social values? Well, how to address those issues is certainly a challenge. And that “challenge” certainly calls for a serious brain-storming and a serious self-assessment vise-a vise the environment in which we all are living.

Ranaghat Nun Rape Case
Rape culture in India garnered more spotlight following the Nirbhaya-gang rape, after which the issue has continue to remain a burning topic in the country. Pixabay

True, in the physical world we are highly convinced brag about that healthy environment is a must for our healthy living. Even kids know these days that we can’t breathe well if our surroundings are filled with high levels of  “toxicity”. We have well studied through our academic textbooks that people invite the environmental disaster if they keep on allowing excessive emission of CO2, CO, methane and other dangerous gases into the atmosphere. We have fully acknowledged that each tall and black chimney of the industries and the nozzles of the motor vehicles are here only to mar the beauty of this planet? What kind of damages the toxic gases are doing to our ecosystem are not at all tough job to analyze with modern appliances. Again, a lot amount of books have been published to create the awareness, to inform us about the scientifically tested measures to resolve the environmental concerns.

However, do we have the same amount of literature that pinpoint the “causes” which contribute to turning “males into perverts”? Who else is emitting the “toxic substances” that overpower the inborn sensitivity of the deviant? What are the properties of toxic filth that is polluting the mind-scape of the society? Now we have Donald Trump, the president of the USA, whom many prefer call him a pervert. At this rate, the number perverts are increasing and they have become dangerously ubiquitous. And, all those perverts have brought nightmares to the ill-fated females. We often stage candle march in protest against the rape, but remain blind to the glaring “causes”. Should we still fiddle about and be appreciative of the society that shameless covers itself with the vulgarity — the “toxicity” that might numb the sanity of males? Watch out, dear friends, those perverts have begun to see even “baby girls” as objects of lust!

Please note:  what our sages said:  “What you see that you think, what you think that you do and what you do that become !!!!”

Also Read: Eat Grapes To Ward Off Depression

Again, I would like to draw another similarity with what prompt big people to “rape”/violate the harmony of the Mother Earth. The case is very regularly brought out by the conscious citizens across the country. A senior journalist Patricia Mukhim of Meghalaya has pointedly driven home recently how the “greed for money” has corrupted many leaders who are trying hard to justify the senseless exploitation of the “body” of Mother Earth. Many big shots of big companies struggle to convince the politicians to tweak the laws to grant the permission to perpetually “rape” the country.

In my mind, both are infected with common syndromes! While the one type is interested in the body of the females, the other type has a fetish for the rocky body of the “Mother Earth”. And which type is contributing more dangerously to the society can easily be measured with our simple plus and minus equation.

The rape victims are not getting the justice they deserve.
The rape victims are not getting the justice they deserve.

Let’s assess the issues from another angle, given the advancement of medical science. Till some years back malaria, dengue, cholera, HIV, smallpox were life-taking diseases. But the medical science has pretty successfully eradicated or contained them all. The scientists have correctly identified the causes of those dangerous diseases and recommended the remedial measures. No doubt, that is a very productive achievement. However, why have the modern studies practically failed to “identify the causes”  of the pandemic rise of the horrendous instances of rapes and criminality associated with them? Is it not a strong slap in the face of the modern civilization considering we have not yet spelt out the causes and the characteristic symptoms the  “toxic emitters” who turn decent males into sadists? How long will we endure the depravity which has already strangulated the decency of the society? Should we still wait to work out the tough laws? Should we still hitch to explore for the “causes” and remedial measures? I guess the time is ripe that each morally conscious individual be allowed a shotgun to shoot the “perversion and depravity” of any kind at sight!

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali.