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Friday, Oct 18, 2019

Hindu outfits perform ‘shastra’ puja across West Bengal on Bijoya Dashami

In line with the Calcutta high court order, most Hindutva outfits held shastra puja indoors in West Bengal although weapons were brandished outdoors at some processions.

india Updated: Sep 30, 2017 21:44 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Women with swords at a shastra puja in Birbhum district.
Women with swords at a shastra puja in Birbhum district.(HT PHOTO)

Saffron outfits worshipped weapons in ‘shastra’ puja at hundreds of places across West Bengal on Bijoya Dashami, the last day of Durga puja, the state’s biggest festival.

While in most cases the weapons worshipped were those found in the hands of Goddess Durga, the puja at the state headquarters of Vishva Hindu Parishad, in Kolkata, was performed with firearms, including a rifle and a revolver.

Most of the pujas were held indoor, complying with a Calcutta high court order that barred such pujas outside places of worship.

However, at several places in the districts of Burdwan, Birbhum and West Midnapore, armed processions were taken out by various akharas that maintain links with Hindutva outfits such as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), VHP and Hindu Samhati.

“Weapon worship is a Hindu tradition hundreds of years old. However, Bengali Hindus had almost forgotten this tradition. We are trying to revive it because that’s the call of the hour in the state,” said Jayashis Samaddar, VHP’s South Kolkata coordinator.

A Bajrang Dal activist said that the outfit previously performed the puja only at fields where RSS conducts their shakha (unit) but decided this year to take the puja to localities “to raise awareness among Hindus”.

Sources in the saffron camp said that VHP and Bajrang Dal had initially planned at least four major dhastra puja events but later decide to keep the event low-key and focussed on holding more small-scale events. More than 300 pujas were organised by VHP alone, the organisation’s Bengal, Odisha, Sikkim and Andaman in-charge Sachindra Nath Singha said.

According to Hindu Samhati vice-president Devdutta Maji, their workers and volunteers participated in more than a hundred Shastra puja events.

Shashtra puja in the office of the Vishwa Hindu parishad (VHP) in Kolkata.
Shashtra puja in the office of the Vishwa Hindu parishad (VHP) in Kolkata. ( HT PHOTO )

On Saturday, Hindu Samhati president Debtanu Bhattacharya was seen in Durgapur in Burdwan district wielding a sword ahead of a procession with sharp-edged weapons.

Policemen present at the venue looked the other way, even though chief minister Mamata Banerjee had several times threatened strong action against anybody carrying weapon in any procession. The chief minister had said several times that shastra puja is alien to Bengali culture.

Read more: Durga Puja concludes peacefully with immersion of idols in Kolkata

Similar processions were taken out at Asansol in Burdwan and Kharagpur in West Midnapore district.

“The processions with weapons in Asansol, Durgapur and Kharagpur - taken out by various akharas - are happening for several years and are part of tradition,” BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said.

Ghosh wondered why the administration always bothered about presence of traditional weapons in Hindu religious festivals but looks the other way when Shia Muslims carry weapons during processions of Muharram.

Muharram is on Sunday.

First Published: Sep 30, 2017 20:47 IST

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