As soon as Durga puja ends, residents of the tribal areas in Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar get ready to worship Bhandani Devi. Known to be the festival of the Rajbanshis, Bhandani puja starts the day after Dashami and continues for three days.
According to local mythology, when Durga was on way to Kailash with her children, she had to cross the Teesta and Torsha rivers. Finding the local people in distress, she asked them to worship her as Bhandani, along with her children. However, instead of the lion, she uses the tiger as the vehicle.
Held in a tribal village of Maynaguri, the puja is an added attraction for the people who feast on seven days of festivities. A three-day fair is also organised in these areas. In Maynaguri, the mela stretches up to Ulladabri.
Residents offer pigeons and goats to the devi. Suresh Oraon, a devotee standing in queue with two pigeons in his hands, says: “Bhandani Devi is known to have fulfilled the wishes of whoever worships her. I am offering these two pigeons to her as a mark of gratitude because my son secured good marks in the examination.”
The purohit of the Bhandani Puja Committee, Bhabendranath Roy, says: “The puja is many years old. For the Rajbanshis, Durga puja starts today.” Describing the devi as an incarnation of Durga, the priest says the people of Jalpaiguri patiently wait for the annual three-day festival.
A Dying Heritage
The organisers feel that the government should come forward to increase the scale of the fair. “The mela to celebrate Bhandani puja reflects our culture and beliefs. The government should patronise the fair so that it can be more colourful. Cultural acts can also be performed here,” one of the organisers opined.
However, social observers say the puja of Bhandani is actually the worship of Aranyadevi or the forest goddess.
Came to know this after reading this article! Thankz to M3team!
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