The Katyani Beats of Magura
Although Durga Puja is the most celebrated religious festival of the Hindu communities of Bangladesh, Magura provides us with an exception.
In Magura, Katyani Puja has become the most popularly celebrated religious festival, where it is celebrated with more enthusiasm than anywhere else in the sub-continent. This year, the five-day Katyani festivities ended on October 28.
During the programme, Magura district swings to the beat of Katyani, and the whole district town and its adjoining areas wear a festive look, while thousands of enthusiastic spectators from home and abroad gather in their masses, irrespective of their religious outlook, to participate in the festivities. The festival runs all day for five days, but the party really gets going at night. The pomp and colour of the event has increased more and more over the years, and it has begun to attract eminent socio-cultural personalities from all over Bangladesh.
Important landmarks, puja mandaps and the surrounding areas are illuminated with thousands of coloured lights. Many tastefully decorated gates and arches are also erected on the occasion of Katyani.
The idol of Katyani Devi is similar to that of Durga; an image of Lord Sree Krishna is also placed at the mandap during the performance of Katyani rites. According to Hindu scriptures, during the 'Dapor Era', Lord Shree Krishna, before appearing on earth, had sent his parents along with other family members to the mortal world. The inhabitants of Vraja worshipped Katyani Devi to obtain Shree Krishna along with his father Basudev and mother Devokee as the son, friend, husband and god.
The Gopbalas (milk maids) of the “Dapor Era” were said to be the first ones to observe the Katyani Puja at the beginning of Dewali (the Bengali months of Kartik and Agrahayan) along the banks of Jamuna. The idols they made were similar to “Devi Durga”. In fact, Katya Devi is said to be a different form of Durga.
Shatish Chandra, an affluent resident of Parnanduali area in Magura municipal area, first started to observe this Katyani Puja at his courtyard about 59 years back. Since then this puja has become very popular within the community and has been celebrated with great festivity for the past 22 years.
The popularity of the puja is increasing rapidly, the Puja Celebration Committee informed. According to the comittee, this year the event took place at 49 puja mandaps.
Durga Puja is also observed every year in Magura with due religious fervor and gaiety. However, it usually remains mostly confined within, but is by no means exclusive to, the Hindu community of the area. Even today it is unusual in many parts of the country to see people participating in and enjoying a religious event with such enthusiasm regardless of religion.
Thousands of people visit Magura for the event, their vehicles in tow, causing serious traffic congestion on the roads and highway. In fact the condition of the traffic gets so severe that it cannot be managed by the police alone. Volunteers have to be enlisted maintain order in the roads, and in the mandaps and surrounding areas.
“We are proud and satisfied as everybody from every religion work together to keep the festive Katyani puja mood alive and cordially cooperate to make the event a success”, Pankaj Kumar Kundu, an organizer of the event, proudly told this correspondent.
With time Katyani puja has turned into the festival that reflects the heritage of Magura district, and one that is no just limited to the residents of Magura. The festival has proved to be a source of attraction for devotees and enthusiastic spectators from as far as India and Nepal.
“Katyani puja festival, the largest and prime cultural heritage of Magura, overtime has turned into a point of convergence for all, irrespective of their religion, as they not only enjoy the event, but also actively cooperate to organize it”, said Professor Mihir Lal Kuri, the vice-president of central Puja Udjapon Parishad (Puja celebration Committee).
Uday Kumar Ragmi, the chief of delegates of International Red Cross Society, came to Magura from Nepal this year during the Katyani festival to enjoy the event. Talking to the local journalists and elites he repeatedly praised the initiative.
A month-long mela (fair) is also arranged on the occasion of Katyani. It attracts a large number of visitors and businesses. Attractive wooden furniture, beautifully designed saris and lungis made by local weavers, cosmetics, toys and crockery are all available at the mela.
During Katyani Festival, life in Magura is tinged with the colour and the joy of the festivities. The sense of togetherness, contagious and all- pervasive, exudes throughout, and all who visits cannot help but bask in it.
(R) thedailystar.net 2009