‘Duare Nodi’? Durga Puja ‘tarpan’ offered on waterlogged streets in Bengal's Ghatal
In videos that went viral on social media on Wednesday, a resident of Ghatal locality in West Bengal's West Medinipur district was seen offering ‘tarpan’ on the auspicious occasion of Mahalaya on waterlogged streets near his home, which resembled a river. The customary ‘tarpan’ is a ritual held on Mahalaya, at the onset of Durga Puja festivities, when lakhs of people each year pay their obeisance to their forefathers marking the end of ‘Pitri Pakshya’ on the banks of the river Hooghly or other rivers and water bodies – the latest addition to these being waterlogged streets.
Arup Bera – a resident of Ward 2 of the Ghatal municipality area – was seen on Wednesday traversing the flooded streets near his home only to offer ‘tarpan’ on murky waters which were reminiscent of the Bhagirathi-Hooghly riverine system, where lakhs of people observed the same ritual earlier that day.
According to reports, the residents of Ghatal usually offer their ‘tarpan’ every year on the Shilabati river (also known as ‘Shilai’), which flows through the districts of Bankura and West Medinipur in West Bengal. However, the region was flooded due to heavy rains this year, which kept the busy town squares entirely waterlogged. Streets across as many as 14 of the 17 municipal wards in Ghatal reportedly remain under water.
Mahalaya marks the end of ‘Pitri Pakshya’, or the 16-day lunar day period when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors (Pitrs) by offering food, money, and other gifts as a sign of reverence. Although it holds a special significance in the age-old cultural tradition of West Bengal ahead of Durga Puja, the day was solemn under the shadow of a doubt this year.
On the one hand, the heavy rainfall across the state in recent days left multiple districts – including East and West Medinipur, and wide swathes of land in Howrah and Hooghly – waterlogged; on the other, the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic has virtually ensured that muted celebrations take place throughout the festive season.