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Curious stories about the 480-year-old Naskari Durga Puja - GetBengal story

20 October, 2023 10:21:54
Curious stories about the 480-year-old Naskari Durga Puja - GetBengal story

Representative image (Naskari Durga Pujo)

Almost every Bonedi Durga Puja in Bengal has unique stories about how it started in the first place. Hereby GB brings to you the 480-year-old Naskari Durga Puja, an unusual tantric Durga puja held on the Bangladesh border. It is said Ma Durga appeared in the dreams of Naskar Barman and he started worshipping her under a Neem tree in their locality. Hence, she came to be known by the name of Naskar Barman, “Sri Sri Naskari Durga Mata” or “Naskari Ma”. She was worshipped following the tantra rituals.

Another curious story tells, Ma Durga was earlier worshipped in a zamindari household in Murutia, Bheramara in Rajshahi (now in Bangladesh). One day, the Zamindar bought an idol of the deity and some decorations from the local idol makers and took those back to his residence. On his way back he got stranded in a canal at Hogolberia with a cyclone raging outside. That was two days before Durga Puja. Suddenly, the deity appeared in the zamindar’s dreams and asked him to arrange for her puja in Hogolberia. The zamindar found a hermit named Naskar Baba at the bank and asked him to arrange for the puja. Since then, the Naskari Puja has become famous.

The first day of Puja starts on Krishna Nabami, under the very same neem tree. With time, many practices and tantric ways of performing the rituals changed. Animal sacrifice was stopped at the orders of Maa Durga and instead, squash, a kind of fruit is sacrificed during the ritual. After Naskar Barman, a part of his extended family, the Chattopadhyays took over the puja. Even after the demise of Naskar Thakur, the puja continued. The forefather of Gourpada Chatterjee, a member of the family, Krishnagopal Chatterjee was the priest.

Oral history indicates that one day in Kuthighat, a Shaankha (white bangles worn by married Bengali women) seller spotted a girl, whose parting line of her hair was full of Sindur but her hands were empty. He was surprised to see her that way. The girl approached him and asked for a shaankha. The seller gave her a shaankha and when he asked for money in return the girl said that she resides in the Naskar Bari and asked him to take the payment from them. As he started going towards the Naskar Bari, he saw that the girl was following him. When he reached the Bari, he came to know that no such girl lived there. After listening to the description of the girl, both the Shaankha seller and the owner of the house rushed out to witness the Goddess’ actual form in front of their eyes. They were mesmerized by her beauty and elegance.

The tradition has been kept intact, even today the members of the Pal Shaankhari household (belonging to the family of that shaankha seller) themselves bring shaankha for the deity. The deity does not accept any other Shaankha on her hands. She is offered rice bhog on Saptami, Luchi on Ashthami, Khichudi on Nabami, and a mixture of Khoi with curd on Dashami.

For many years, Ma Durga was worshipped under the neem tree. One day, a Haji Saheb built a temple for her. The Goddess blessed people belonging to both religions, which is why even today, many people flock from Bangladesh to get blessings from her. The immersion of the clay idol is also dictated by a myth that stops devotees from taking the idol for immersion through a straightforward route. The idol has to be taken from the same route through which she was taken the first time. After all these years, roads have been made smoother but the deity prefers the bumpy path through paddy fields and ditches along a “go dahar” (path of cows) to reach the ghat. The devotees carry her on their shoulders. The locals say that if her order is not followed then she becomes so heavy that she cannot be lifted. Some even said that when attempts were made to take her through the easier route, there were inexplicable accidents.

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