The history always beckons from its past and insists us to peep into its deep rooted mythological phenomenon. Most of the people do not aware of the traditional pujo of Debi Bari, Coochbehar, which has been adoring since more than 500 years. In the present ethos, a myth evolves in the air of Coochbehar. It whispers……..
It was the beginning of 16th century, two brothers Bishu and Sishu implanted a twig of Mayna tree and started worshipping whimsically. That very night Bishu, officially known as Raja Bishwa Singho, dreamt a dream and had been intimated to commence worshipping of Devi Maa. Since onward the reverence of ‘Baro Devi Maa’ has been solemnized with deep devotion. Initially this pujo had been observed by implanting a twig of Mayna tree in the precinct of Madan Mohan Bari, but Raja Naranarayan initiated to make an idol of ‘Baro Devi Maa’. The image of Durga is completely different from what we are usually accustomed with. Here she has emerged with a dreary look, red in color. The right hand is bited by a ferocious lion and left hand by a tiger. The height of the image is 11 foot. Laxmi, Saraswati, Kartika and Ganesh have been replaced with Jaya and Bijaya.
The time comes and goes in its own rhythm. Neither Maharajas have survived nor their successors, which have existed, their creations, their works and the ethnic tradition, which they used to follow during their reign. That adoration has been following till the date. Every year this pujo begins well before a month and half by maintaining the same rituals. The twig of Mayna tree is being implanted in the courtyard of Madan Mohan Bari and on the day of “Shukla Shashthi”, the twig is being brought to Devi Bari and the ritual of “Mahasnan” is being observed. As this pujo belongs to the royals of Coochbehar, it is being organized by the “Devottwar Trust”. People have been offering pujo to Devi Maa to keep them away from all the evils. It is an elaborate affair, a riot of rituals
After Mahalaya , when the amabasya passes away, the main pujo begins. The hymns of Chandi Paath, muttering sound of ‘Mrityunjoy Mantra and the constant ‘Durga naam jap freshen the air. A pious feelings create a spiritual environment all around the corner of Devi Bari. The setting up of a fair adds a merry making flavor with this celebration. From the auspicious day of Maha shashthi, pujo is on, in full swing. On Maha Saptami ,the ‘Ghat’ is being placed. In the olden time, the rituals of “Naraboli”(Sacrifice of human being) had been taken place. The royals used to free ‘Mayna Bird in the azure sky. But most of the glories of the golden past have been faded away, but the devotional approach towards Devi Maa is still alive in the heart and mind of the people of Coochbehar. The “Boli” is still a part and parcel of this pujo. On the august moment of Maha Ashtami “Mosh Boli” (Sacrifice of a Buffalo) is being sanctified with all hue and cry. People from all around coochbehar assemble with “He-goats”(Paantha), “Ducks”(Haans), “Hens”(Murgi), “Pigeons” (Paaera), “Bottle gourd”(Laau), ”Pumpkin”(Kumro) and different types of fruit are offered to Baro devi Maa. At that moment, the chorus “Jai maa “ voice , the blow of conch shell , the beats of Dhaks and the idol of straw and hay gains another significance altogather, with the human body being in close communion with nature, god. This is something supernatural. The whole ambience is subsumed in divinity, it is magical.
On the dead night of Maha navami, the “Nishi Pujo” or “ Gupta pijo” is being performed . Shri. Amiyo Kumar Dev Bakshi, one of the Trusty Members of the “Devottwar Trust” intimated ,” No outsiders are allowed to attend this pujo except Purohit and a few selected devotees. One of the representatives of Kamsanait Family sacrifices few drops of blood by tearing his finger. Besides a puppet of a human being is being sacrificed in the name of Debi Maa. On Maha Navami, “Annobhog” is offered to Debi Maa. On Bijaya Dashami, the married women get together to enjoy Sindoor Khela, smearing sindoor on each other and feeding Debi Maa sweets while inviting her to come again , next year. Then onward the idol is being carried to the bed of the river Torsha. Before immersion, the Ghaat Pujo or Halwa Puja is being solemnized . Again a “Bhog” is offered to Debi Maa on “Shapla Leaf” following a sacrifice of a pig ……Then Debi Maa is being immersed in the Torsha.
This is all about a write up regarding Debi Bari Pujo. But believe me , this pujo is more than anyone could write or tell about. There is no such language to express the devotional ambience , which can be find in and around Debi Bari during these festive days.