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Durga Puja and Hindus in Bangladesh - Part I

Durga Puja and Hindus in Bangladesh

By Rabindranath Trivedi

Durga Puja, five days of the largest festivities of Hindus in the country, begins on 17 October 2007. Puja mandaps have already been built and preparations for all rituals made. Devotees will assemble at the mandaps and make offerings of treats to Goddess Durga. The offerings will later be distributed among all, reports the daily star.Goddess DurgaGoddess Durga

Durga, the slayer of Mahishashur, is lion-borne, wielding an array of arms including kripan, chakra, gada, and bow and arrow in her ten hands. Government sources said 14,170 Puja mandaps have been set up across the country. However, according to Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad, 20,000 mandaps have been set up in the country including 162 in Dhaka.

The main Puja mandap in the capital is at Dhakeshwari National Temple. Large mandaps have been built at Jagannath Hall of Dhaka University, the Ramkrishna Mission, Ramna Kali Mondir, Siddheshwari Kali Mondir, Tanti Bazar, Shankhari Bazar, Bangla Bazar, and at Mohakhali and Farmgate areas.Ansars have been deployed at every puja pandel while RAB will patrol the puja venues for ensuring security of the visitors.

The Mahashashthi puja will begin at 9:58am on 18 Oct, following Bodhon rituals. In the Bengali cultural and traditional folk literatures of medieval age depicted, daughter annually returning to parents along with her children, rare evidence in history of religion of others, as it has been depicted that the goddess Durga descends on earth today -- the Mahashashthi, accompanied by her children Ganesh, Kartik, Lakshmi and Saraswati, at the invocation and supplication of the devotees and stays for the next four days.

The days are Mahasaptami on Thursday, Mahashtami on Friday, Mahanabami on Saturday and Bijaya Dashami on Sunday,21 October 2007.

To commemorate the festival, messages from the figureheads of the country and other political personalities come forth to give finesse. In his message President Prof. Iajuddin Ahmed said Durga Puja is an indivisible part of the Bengali culture though it is the main religious festival of Hindus. In a separate message, Chief Adviser Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed said people of all faith have been living in harmony in the country for ages and every achievement; success and glory belong to all of them.

Well-placed Hindus, like Babus of bygone days, of different walks of life in the metropolis, dressed in their best, attend state function, the 'Bijoya Dashami' reception at Bangabhaban, the president’s palace. This year the 'Bijoya Dashami' reception at Bangabhaban, the president’s palace would be held on 21 October, Sunday at 10.30 a.m. This year in 2007 Durga Puja would be observed without any untoward incidents. The Caretaker Government keeps her eyes and ears open to avoid any untoward incidences. Hindus are happy and reposed confidence over the actions relating Durga Festival so far.

The Hindu leadership under the umbrella of Durga Puja is a farce and a great mockery. The Durga Puja has lost its religious fervour and festivity in Bangladesh. It becomes a political bargaining factor for a class of beneficiaries. The celebration of Puja festival committees under the so-called Hindu leaders in Bangladesh is tutored and cared for by the elected Governments and army regimes.

The Puja committees in the capital and other parts of the country depend on doles and protection of law enforcing agencies. They usually organize Puja mondaps and display communal harmony in the name of Puja once a year like other festivals but in reality, besides begging, there is no security and political and economic power to earn for them.

Concept of the Shri Shri Durga Puja

Markandiya Purana commonly known as Shri Shri Chandi is recited from Mahalaya day. Shri shri Chandi is recited the following episode of the revelation of Mother Goddess Shri shri Durga:

‘Manydark, Primordial moons ago when evil went stampeding through the heavens in the form of Mohisashura, the buffalo demon, the gods in their hour of need turned to Shiva and Vishnu. The pitch dark of wrongdoing and heedless ignorance were threatening to swallow up the steady glow of light in thinking and knowledge. The golden moments of heavenly existence were beginning to show the tarnish of demonic misconduct. The might of the gods, the Devas was in danger of being snuffed out by the misrule of the Ashuras, the demons. The light was going out their lives.

“It was an impassioned plea, Shiva and Vishnu listened with rising concern and mounting disapproval. It was not an unfamiliar situation. Evil existed alongside good, knowledge beside ignorance in an eternal tantalisiing tangle. And the universal scales were rarely still in the perfect balance of opposites.

Mahishshura’s way was to strike at the very roots of existence.

The cosmic structure was very near callapse. The radiance the powers, the energies, the Sakti of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva met in a flash of creation. The darkness that had settled on the world burst open in a dazzle—and of the effulgence was born the sound and fury of blazing wrath that is Devi Durga, difficult to attain destroyer of all evil. Fiery red in hue, clad in the blue of the firmament her many arms fanned out to fill the sky as she received the martial equipment that each god separately created out of his own special weapons—a trident from Shiva, a discous from Vishnu, staff of death from Yama, a club from Kubera, a battle axe from Vishwakarma, a thunder bolt from Indra and many more.

The gods watched in wonder and relief as she went riding to battle on a rampant lion, her dreadful laughter mingling with its roar the three worlds echoing with the sound of fury as the made her way to the Vindalyas to seek out Mahisashura. In a final burst of triumph, she pinned Mahishashur down with her foot drove the trident into his heaving chest as he strove to hold back his eseaping life-breath. Thus the demon met his doom, gazing into her frenzied eye ; for the glance reread his doom—and his deliverance’ *

The conception of which Devi Durga is made is the stuff of eternal challenge and fight and panting victory over the ugliness and terror that forms the morass of the world out of which like the lotus of slush the beauty of the good arises.

‘O Brothers and Sisters, pray day and night,

”O thou Lord of Gouri, O Thou Mother of the Universe,

Vouchsafe manliness unto me! O Thou Mother of Strength,

Take away my weakness, Take away my unmanliness, And - make me a man!”

With the spirit of complete surrender to achieve eternal liberty and Blessings of Ma Shri Shri Durga be bestowed on all of us with best Vijoya wishes and greetings

Rabindranath Trivedi, is a retired Additional Secretary and former Press Secretary to the President of Bangladesh

Read Part II

Read Part III

Published Sunday, October 21, 2007 10:35 AM by Administrator

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