Temple located in no-man’s land between India and Bangladesh preps to celebrate Durga Puja | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Temple located in no-man’s land between India and Bangladesh preps to celebrate Durga Puja

ByBiswa Kalyan Purkayastha
Oct 11, 2021 01:39 AM IST

Locals made a committee to take care of the temple and BSF officials helped them. The area near the temple has started getting basic facilities like electricity and better mobile network with the help of BSF officials.

A 150-year-old Durga Temple located in no-man’s land between India and Bangladesh near Assam’s Karimganj district is all set to host the Durga Puja festival.

During Pujas, the BSF opens the border gate from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm every day and only devotees are allowed to enter the 150-year-old Durga Temple located in no-man’s land between India and Bangladesh near Assam’s Karimganj district. (HT PHOTO.)
During Pujas, the BSF opens the border gate from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm every day and only devotees are allowed to enter the 150-year-old Durga Temple located in no-man’s land between India and Bangladesh near Assam’s Karimganj district. (HT PHOTO.)

The temple was a part of Narendra Malakar’s property. He was a landlord during the British period. In a demarcation drive, a border was drawn between the house and the Durga Temple of Narendra Malakar. The area came under fencing in 2008 and a year later BSF jawans discovered the temple. With the help of locals they started Durga Puja celebrations there which attract thousands of devotees during the festival every year.

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During Pujas, the BSF opens the border gate from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm every day where only devotees are allowed to enter. An on-duty BSF official said, “Not only locals, our jawans celebrate Navratri by offering puja in this temple. We have people from various parts of India in our force and this temple beyond fencing unites everyone. We only allow devotees to go beyond the fencing gate during the festival.”

Apu Malakar, a local resident informed that the Durga Temple was established by Narendra Malakar’s forefathers almost 150 years back. They were landlords during the British period and Durga Puja used to be a week-long celebration.

“We have heard stories that artists from Kolkata and Dhaka used to attend this Durga Puja during the British period. Narendra Malakar died a few years after Independence and the family reduced the size of the celebration. When the last decedent of the family, Hriday Ranjan Malakar died in 1994, the puja was officially stopped,” he said.

About the reopening of the Durga Temple he said, “In 2008, the area came under Border Fencing and BSF camps were made. One day an on-duty BSF official called us and said that he saw something in that area. A year later one official of BSF called the villegers and asked to reopen the temple. The temple was half broken and BSF officials helped us to reconstruct this. Since then we are conducting Durga Puja where BSF officials also take part spontaneously. Last year more than 10 thousand devotees visited the temple, this year the number may climb higher.”

Locals made a committee to take care of the temple and BSF officials helped them. The area near the temple has started getting basic facilities like electricity and better mobile network with the help of BSF officials.

Champak Malakar, president of the Manikpur Durga Puja committee said, “This puja helps us to get united. The officials from various parts of India join us as fellow devotees. They helped us to improve the common lifestyle here. Maa Durga is blessing us from beyond the fencing.”

President of Manikpur Durga Puja committee, Parimal Malakar informed that people from entire Karimganj district extend their support to conduct this Durga Puja. He said, “Initially the puja started with the help of BSF but later a lot of people started visiting the temple. We needed money to arrange prasad. Now a family pays the amount for making the idol. Some other families give groceries for cooking khichdi (which is distributed as prasad during puja). Last year, we didn’t distribute khichdi due to Covid-19 but this year things are better.”

Karimganj shares a 92 km-long border with Bangladesh, mostly with Sylhet district of that country. Manikpur Durga Mandir is the only temple located on no-man’s land in the district. Apart from that, there are nine Indian villages located beyond the fencing. But only in one such village, Durga Puja is celebrated. The village named Gobindapur has 44 Indian families, 42 of them are Hindu houses and they used to conduct Durga Puja before the pandemic.

Local resident Titu Namasusra said, “Till 2019 we organised Durga Puja but due to Covid-19, we stopped it temporarily. We don’t take support from outsiders; it’s our own Durga Puja. If the situation allows, the puja will be conducted next year.”

The other villages beyond fencing in Karimganj are, Lafashail, Jarapata, Latukandi, Kuorbag, Mahisaahan, Tesua, Barmagul and Deo Tuli. The BSF allows residents of those villages to enter into Indian land for various purposes. They conduct monthly Covid-19 tests for each villager. But according to the BSF officials, no person has been found positive till now.

Champa Rani Namasusra, a 50-year-old resident of Gobindapur informed that they went through a tough time during lockdown but things have started normalising. “BSF officials closed the gate permanently during lockdown. But they supplied food and also allowed NGOs to send us essentials. Our children are now going to school after crossing the fencing gate. We all have taken the vaccine for Covid-19 and we were allowed to go to government hospitals for that. It’s sad that we cannot conduct Durga Puja this year but it’ll happen once the situation normalises.”

Several organisations like Ram Krishna Mission Seva Samiti, Lions Club have distributed new clothes amongst residents of these villages before Durga Puja.

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