‘Tusu’ is a harvest festival of Bengal that is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Purulia, Bankura, Midnapore and other parts of Jangalmahal.
This festival is celebrated from the Bengali month of Agrahayan and continues till the end of Poush in honour of local deity ‘Tusu’. Tusu songs, procession of the local deity, drawing of images in alpana style on the pitchers etc. are some special features of the festival. It is said that Tusu was the princess of Panchakot Kashipur or Jhargram and had died suddenly.
Another legend has it that a Mughal king was so fascinated by her eternal beauty that he decides to marry her. Eventually Tusu committed suicide by jumping into the river that is known, today, as ‘Satighat’. Jhargram region of Midnapur district is popular for ‘Tusu Utsav’.
Village girls and women sing Tusu songs during the month of Poush, the first month of winter. Tusu songs are sung for whole night of ‘Makar Sankranti', the last day of the month of Poush. Women exchange garlands and fry eight varieties of pulses which are given as an offering to the goddess Tusu.
On Poush Sankranti, the devotees take sacred bath ‘Makarsnan’. Men and women collectively as well as separately sing ‘Tusu songs’ to mark the festival. Pitha, or pancake, is an integral part of the festival and every tribal family has its own delicacy. Roti pitha, gud pitha, mudhi lai and tilkut are all-time favourites.
Image courtesy: Anirban Saha