Bhandani Puja of Dooars – A dying heritage
As Durga Puja festivities end, the average Bengali is grasped by melancholy as he returns to the humdrum of life. However, for the Rajbongshis in Dooars, the end of Durga Pujo brings along fresh reason to celebrate – Bhandani Puja.
Legend has it that while returning to Kailash after her immersions on Bijoya Dashami, Maa Durga decided to rest in Dooars. The Rajbongshi residents of the region celebrate this stay of the Goddess by worshipping her in the ‘Bhandani’ form.
The idol of Maa Bhandani is same as that of a Durga idol, except that she uses a tiger as her baahon (vehicle) instead of a lion. This Bhandani Puja is widely celebrated in Maynaguri, specially in Barnish, where there is a temple dedicated to Maa Bhandani.
A huge fair is organised every year in Barnish to mark the festival. The Bhandani temple sees a footfall of thousands, not just Rajbongshis. Sadly, there is not much awareness about this beautiful local tradition outside of the region. Thus, a centuries old heritage, with the potential to be a big tourist attraction, lies in neglect.
Bhandani Temple in Barnish
So next year, if you are visiting Dooars during Pujo, do ask your guide to take you to Barnish on Ekadoshi.