Tripura, the northeastern state currently ruled by the Left Front led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist, is possibly the only one in India where the government continues to sponsor a over five century-old Durga Puja, that is also closely overseen by the erstwhile royal family.
With ‘Maha Sasthi’ or ‘Bodhan’ – the welcoming of the Durga idols – the five-day long Puja began on Monday at the famed Durgabari temple, located in front of the 114-year-old Ujjayanta Palace, eastern India’s biggest royal mansion.
“A few years after the beginning of the royal era in Tripura, the erstwhile kings started Durga Puja over 500 years ago,” Dulal Bhattacharjee, the octogenarian chief priest of Durgabari temple, told.
He said: “The capital of the princely dynasty along with royal temple moved three different places – Udaipur, Amarpur and Puran Habeli before the state headquarters and the capital city along with the Durgabari temple settled in Agartala 177 years ago in 1838 by then Maharaja Krishna Kishore Manikya (1830-49).”
“The district magistrate of West Tripura earlier has to report in writing about the preparations at Durgabari to the former royal family and submit a final report after completion of the mega puja,” Bhattacharjee said.
“Now this practice has been slightly modified. However, every affair of the Dura Puja is approved by surviving elderly royal family member, Maharani Bibhu Kumari Devi,” he addeed.