AGARTALA, July 20: Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Friday inaugurated the seven-day long “Kharchi Puja” at Puran Habeli, seven kilometres from the State capital. The centuries-old Puja was inaugurated by the Chief Minister in the presence of a host of ministers and dignitaries, officials said.
The annual festival is meant to cleanse the sins of mortal souls. Originally a Hindu tribals’ festivity, it is now observed by all communities and religions. With colourful marquees, illuminations, religious rites and chanting of the ‘mantras’ amid drum beats, the festival features 14 deities Shiva, Durga, Vishnu, Laxmi, Saraswati, Kartik, Ganesha, Brahma, Abadhi, Chandra, Ganga, Agni, Kamdev and Himadri.
As per the tradition, the week-long festival began with a procession. All deities and priests were escorted by the Tripura Police personnel, who also presented a guard of honour for the chief royal priest known as “Raj Chantaia”. Thousands of devotees joined them en route to Howrah river for the customary bathing. “The worship starts with the dipping of 14 deities in the Howrah river, followed by the sacrifice of 108 animals in the presence of hundreds of thousands of devotees, all at government expense,” writer and historian Subhash Das told IANS. For the past several decades, successive Tripura governments have been bearing the expenses of this festival, living up to the agreement with the erstwhile royal family of Tripura.
“The state government is abiding by the 1949 merger agreement with the royal family to uphold the faith of the tribals year after year,” Das said adding that “Kharchi Puja” is the biggest for the Hindu tribals in the northeastern region.On an average, 10-15 lakh people gather from all over the country and neighbouring Bangladesh to join the “Kharchi Puja”. (IANS)