Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dhamrai Ratha Yatra

Ratha Yatra ( Car festival) is a huge Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath held at Puri in the state of Orissa, India during the months of June . Most of the city's society is based around the worship of Jagannath (Krishna) with the ancient temple being the fulcrum of the area. The festival commemorates Lord Jagannath's annual visit to his aunt's home.
Usually the deities such as Jagannath (Krishna), Balarama and Subhadra are worshipped within the temple, but on the day of the Rath festival they are taken through the streets so that everyone can have the fortune of seeing them. Three richly decorated chariots, resembling temple structures, are pulled through the streets of Puri. This commemorates the annual journey of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balarama, and their sister Subhadra to their aunt' s temple, the Gundicha Temple. It is situated at a distance of 2 km from their temple. New chariots are built every year.
The festival is also known as Gundicha Jatra, Ghosa Yatra, Navadina Yatra, Dasavatara Yatra and by a variety of other names. For the devoted and believers, it is considered the most auspicious occasion. It is believed that if someone see a glimpse of the Vamana, the dwarf form, an incarnation of Lord Jagannatha, is sure to ensure emancipation, release from the cycle of birth and death. Jatra is an essential part of the ritual of the Hindu system of worship. Jatra literally means travel or journey.
Interestingly, the Yasho Madhab Rath Yatra is a chariot festival dedicated to the Hindu God Yosho Madhab located in Dhamrai Kahet Pada, Bangladesh. Lord Vishnu has many names in South Asia. In Dhamrai, the Lord is known as Lord Yasho Madhab. The deities were housed in an elaborate six storied wooden chariot and were taken out in a grand annual procession known as the Ratha yatra. Each floor of the Rath was adorned by carvings of Hindu deities together with interesting moments of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Kavi Jashimuddin described these form of arts in his famous poem, Dhamrai Rath. The Ratha yatra of Dhamrai is the oldest and most famous in Bangladesh attracting thousands of devotees from all over the country. The annual Ratha yatra in Dhamrai was famous because of the 60-foot-tall (18 m) chariot, built by the Baliati Zamindars during the 19th century. However, the Rathayatra utsav in Dhamrai is believed to be 300 years old. In Dhamrai, where Lord Vishnu in the form of the Lord Madhab is dragged to visit the house of his father-in-law located in Yatra Badi which is about a quarter kilometer from Kahet Pada temple. Lord Madhab is brought back again to the original temple on the eighth day. Sadly, this Chariot was burnt it to ashes by the Pakistani Army on April 17, 1971, the period is famously known as war of liberation. They also tried to burn the idol of Lord Madhab but some unknown reasons it didn’t burn.
After liberation war local Hindu communities formed a committee entitled, “Yasho Madhab Mandir and Rath Parichalana Committee” headed by Late Thakur Gopal Banik to look after the maintenance of both Mandir and Rath. The committee since then is responsible for all activities with the support of Kumudini Welfare Trust. It is believed that former sevayets of Yosho Madhab temple were awarded huge amount of agricultural land (patta) in order to maintain regular expenditure of the temple during the time of Moghal emperor Shah Alam. Unfortunately, the land documents are untraceable now. The then Subedar of Bengal also allowed the local sevayets to collect taxes during the two months of Ratha mela in order to maintain Ratha Mela cost. The system is still exists in Dhamrai. The committee is now responsible for this activity in accordance with the power given by the court. In addition, after the abolition of Jamindari system, the cost of maintenance of Rath and Yasho madhab temple was partly borne by Late Ranada Prasad Saha of Mirzapur.

Baliati , is best known as the home of the Baliati jaminders. It is in Saturia Upazila Head Quarter. The distance between Dhamrai Upazila Head quarter and Saturia Upazila Head quarter is about 15 kilometers. From a distance their house stands up above the level plain, an imposing mass of masonry which recalls a Georgian country house in England. A closer inspection shows that it is not at all one fine house, but a terrace of five very ordinary ones. The founder of the family was one Gobinda Ram Saha who was a big salt merchant in the middle of the 18th century. He left four sons, Dadhi Ram, Ananda Ram, Pandit Ram and Golap Ram. Dadbi Ram left two sons whose descendants now form the “east " and " west " houses as they are called. Pandit Ram's family forms the " middle house " and Golap Ram's the “ north house," while Ananda Ram's descendants are known as the “ Golaba'i." The Jagannath College in Dhaka was founded and endowed by a member of the Baliati jaminder family, Babu Kishori Lai Ray Chaudhuri, in memory of his father.
Dhamrai is well placed is history of Bengal. Ruins of stupas built by Asoka in the village Dhamrai (Dhaka) still stands as a witness of supposed to have derived its name from Dharmarajika. The historians Jatindra Nath Bose corroborated this view. The nomenclature itself has a significant background. Savar, not far from Dhaka was visited by Buddha according to Buddhist literature and was confirmed by the Bengal historian J. N. Bose. It has mount created by King Asoka. In course of time the place has been known as Dharmarajika which again turned into Dhammarajika. Like the ruins in Dhaka district bearing theatrics of rich Buddhist culture another district, Dinajpur (northern part of Bangladesh) also bears evidence of Buddhism, highly patronized by the ruler themselves. The Pala kings were princes of Gaur, a name that seems to have applied rather to the whole province, of which Dinajpur formed the principal part. The founder of this dynasty appears to have come from Western India and had become Buddhist.
Dhamrai was one of the most important trade and commerce centre of Dhaka district. About 15,000 people, both men and women, were involved in activities starting from manufacturing metallic utensils products to trading in Dhamrai and its neighbouring villages. They lost their jobs because of the availability of low cost aluminum and plastic products. As a result, quite a significant number of people were unemployed. Unfortunately, government played role in this situation was just as spectator. Many people became poor, many people died , many migrated to India. The life of them is miserable with no hope to escape.

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