The fair and annual festival of Agradweep
Entwined by the river Ganges from three sides, Agradweep, a remote village in the district of Burdwan in West Bengal comes to life on the eleventh day of Chaitra, the last month of Bengali calendar (end March). On this day it ushers in a three day fair, visited by over hundred thousand people to witness the miraculous memorial service of Gobinda Ghosh performed by Gopinath (Lord Krishna).
Even gods are human
The entire country is abound with people worshipping Krishna, but nowhere does he offer annual memorial service (Shradh) to his disciple as a loyal son would do in memory of his father. This humanization of god has its root in the myth that after the sudden demise of his wife and son, Gobinda Ghosh, the devout worshipper of the local deity Gopinath refused to continue with his daily service. Gopinath then had to assure his disciple that after his death he would religiously do his annual service like his son would have done had he been alive. The tradition continues till date and people from adjoining villages throng to see this in the three day long fair of Agradweep.
Agradweep fair is the abode of Sahebdhwani sect
The fair of Agradweep is not about Gopinath alone. It is a confluence of hundreds of people and several minor religious sects of rural Bengal. The origin of these sects lies in the deep seated hatred against the lower castes within the Hindu religion. In the eighteenth century many such minor religious sects mushroomed in Bengal. They were deeply influenced by the teachings of Sri Chaitanya and his Vaisnava cult. Their religious practice was shaped by Sufism. One such religious sect is Sahebdhwani and their annual festival is held every year at Agradweep fair. The Sahebdhwani sect does not believe in idol worshipping, they call their lord Dindayal Dinabandhu and worships a wooden sceptre. Charan Pal was one of the leading practitioners of Sahebdhwani sect; his ancestors are still considered to be the flag bearers of the sect and the keeper of the sceptre.
Kubir Gosain’s songs are waiting to be discovered
Kubir Gosain, a disciple of Charan Pal was an extremely talented musician and songwriter who had composed around twelve hundred songs. His songs adorn the festivities of Sahebdhwani sect in Agradweep. These songs are composed in coded language espousing Bartaman (the present/ human body) as opposed to Anuman (conjecture/idol worshipping). In terms of quality of lyrics and composition, Kubir’s songs along with his disciple Jadubindu’s are next only to Lalons’. Yet very few people in urban Bengal, let alone in India are aware of their existence.
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