CULTURE: Fest for an ‘older’ deity – or ‘younger’ in history, interesting cross-religious mix, harmony in a secular India ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Cooch Behar, Oct. 21: Durga Puja is over but every year for the people of Dinhata the festivities are extended by a week because of an older incarnation of the goddess.
Since Monday, the day after Dashami, thousands of people, both Hindus and the Muslims, of Burirpat on the northern fringes of Dinhata town have been celebrating Bondurga Puja.
The deity, also known as Buri or old woman and believed to be an incarnation of Durga, is different. “She has been projected as an old mother with grey hairs. There is a child on her lap and she has a stick in the other hand,” said Samiruddin Mian, a member of the Bondurga Puja committee.
The festivity will continue for a week. “According to tradition, the idol will not be immersed but will be kept at the temple we have in Burirpat,” said Bhabesh Burman, the secretary of the puja committee. It will be immersed before the Durga Puja next year and will be replaced by a new idol.
The origin of the puja is traced back to 129 years ago when three youths — Asmat Mian, Hemananda Bakshi and Kedarnath Roy — started it. “Since then, the Hindus and the Muslims of the locality have been celebrating the festival just after Durga Puja,” said Bijoy Roy, a senior citizen of Dinhata. “After Asmat Mian’s death, his son Yakun Uddin donated nearly 1.5 acres to the puja committee where a fair is held every year to mark the occasion.”
Burman said he was proud that over the decades the puja has struck a chord of harmony between the two communities who participate in the festival together. “It is known across the district and people from different parts of Cooch Behar visit the puja everyday,” Burman added.
During the week-long festivity, folk songs and dances of north Bengal are staged to entertain the crowd. “We invite artistes from different districts to perform here everyday,” said Rabindranath Roy, another committee member.