Madhupur Xatra eking out its existence through dotions as Bengal & Assam governments look away
By Our Staff Reporter
Cooch Behar, Dec 20: The Madhupur Xatra in West Bengal's Cooch Behar district, where Vaishvite saint Srimanta Sankardev spent his last days, is coping with an existential crisis.
With neither the West Bengal government nor Assam government bothered with the issues flagged by the Xatra maging committee, it has been a hand to mouth existence for the nine bhakats, including the Burha Xatradhikar, who are surviving on public dotions.
Known to be a treasure trove of historical documents and manuscripts, the Xatra was built in the 15th century.
After coming back from his second pilgrimage, Srimanta Sankardev used to reside at Bheladoba and Kakatkuta, both adjacent to Madhupur. The saint passed away at Kakatkuta. His disciple-in-chief Madhabdeva used to reside at Bheladoba.
The Bheladoba Xatra was washed away in floods. King Birraya, son of the great Koch king raraya, and his younger brother King Lakshiraya helped devotees shift the Xatra to Madhupur with items of significance, including earth, from the Bheladoba Xatra.
Once, the Xatra had some 500 bighas of land, doted by the Koch kings over a period of time.
Today, only 18 bighas remain with the Xatra maging committee.
The committee has doted around 250 bighas to schools, other institutions and organizations. Locals cultivate in a plot of land measuring around 45 bighas.
"This plot is also practically not in our hands. Sometimes the cultivators give us a portion of their produce, but that is not regular," said secretary of the maging committee Sankar Das.
The remaining 200 bighas is under encroachment.
"It is really sad. The government is not giving any kind of assistance or help. We could not even preserve and protect the land belonging to the Xatra. Once the then AGP government had taken up the matter with the West Bengal government, but no steps were taken. We don't remember Assam government taking any further steps," Das said.
The recurring expenses of the Xatra is around Rs 25,000-30,000 per month.
"The West Bengal government gives us a tax proceeds through the Archeological Survey of India. Initially, it was 18 rupees twelve an. Now it is Rs 100 a month. We have to mage the monthly expenditure from dotions," he said. The Xatra committee has approached the Assam and Central government seeking help to meet the monthly expenditure, but neither was forthcoming.
The Xatra is holding its annual Madhupur Mahotsav on December 25, 26 and 27.
"We are raising funds for the event. We have to keep the tradition going no matter what. We will be organizing traditiol bhaos and folk activities during the three-day event," Das informed.