The Raas Utsav is perhaps the grandest of all festivals which are celebrated all throughout the year. The fair that is centred round this festival is conducted with grandeur. It attracts large crowds of people not only from all over the district of Cooch Behar, but also from neighbouring districts including adjacent state of Assam.
Biggest festival of North Bengal
Raas Mela is the most ancient and traditional of all fairs. Every year even when the festive mood of the bygone Durga Puja still lingers in our minds, people of Cooch Behar get ready to celebrate the Raas Yatra of Sri Madan Mohan Thakur. Raas Mela celebrations commence from the auspicious day of Purnima in the month of Kartik according to Bengali calendar. It is among the biggest festivals of North Bengal.
History of Raas Utsav
The Madan Mohan temple, in heart of the town Cooch Behar, was built by Maharaja Nripendra Narayanduring the period 1885-1889. The deities include Lord Madan Mohan, Ma Kali, Ma Tara, Ma Bhabani and Katyayani.
The first Raas Mela was organised in the regime of Maharaja Harendra Narayan in 1812. The Maharaja moved into a new palace on Raas Purnima in that year and a Raas Mela was organised there on that occasion.
In 1889, Maharaja Nripendra Narayan established the new Madan Mohan temple on the north bank of the Bairagi Dighi. The idol of Lord Madan Mohan was shifted from the temple in palace complex to the new temple. From then on, the Raas Mela is organised in the area surrounding the Madan Mohan temple, Bairagi Dighi and Raasmelar Math.
The festive rituals
The Debatra Trust Board celebrates the Raas Yatra and the Cooch Behar Municipality conducts the Raas Mela. The Raas Yatra is inaugurated by whirling the specially decorated Raas Chakra.
After completion of all rituals, the main gate of the temple complex is opened for commoners. Scores of people and devotees rush into the temple premises to get a sacred tika of the yajna and a glance of the well-ornamented idol of Lord Madan Mohan.
During the fortnight, cultural programmes are held every evening at the Madan Mohan temple premises organised by the Debatra Trust Board.