Here, women run the show
Since the Duga Puja celebrations started on October 1, hundreds of people, from all walks of life, have been flocking to a particular temple in Moulvibazar town.
So what's so special about the "Durgabari temple" on Moulvibazar's Saifur Rahman Road?
The answer is simple. The six-decade-old temple has a reputation for organising one of the best pujas in the district.
However, there is another catch. The temple garnered greater attractions this year by sticking with the real spirit of Durga Puja -- women empowerment.
Durga Puja is not only a religious festival but also an occasion that celebrates the manifold faces of womanhood. Although it's the men who mostly call the shots in terms of organisation and performing the rituals, celebrations in the Moulvibazar temple will be run mostly by women.
The temple authorities have announced a 127-member committee for running the puja this year, of which, 124 are women. The three men in the committee are holding the posts of assistants, while all the important positions have been filled up by women.
Initially, there were some reservations among a section of locals on how the women would handle the pressure. However, all doubts were cleared as the committee won them over by successfully organising Mahalaya on September 25.
A colourful procession was taken out on Mahalaya, while clothes were distributed among the underprivileged. It was the women who lit up the forums in the discussion meetings.
The temple has been seeing a mad rush of devotees since October 1, riding on the massive success of the Mahalaya celebrations.
This correspondent talked to Ranjit Datta Johny, a local, while visiting the temple on October 2.
"Hundreds are visiting this place every day. Some visitors were seen being a bit judgemental, trying to nitpick anything they find. But even they were seen leaving the place with a wide smile on their face, happy with how everything went," he said.
"Most were left mesmerised with how beautiful the idols were, along with the security arrangements, rituals, and everything in between," he added.
He also claimed that not only Moulvibazar residents but people from nearby districts, including Brahmanbaria and Habiganj are renting cars to come and experience the celebrations organised by women.
In an earlier conversation, Nandita Deb, president of the committee, said, "Durga is the embodiment of our Dharitri Mata (Mother Erath). Durga destroys Asur with her many hands and does everything for the welfare of the devotees. Similarly, our mothers work non-stop for the welfare of their children. The formation of our committee symbolises this realisation."
The women in this committee are of many professions -- teachers, doctors, lawyers, expatriates, housewives and students.
"Earlier, one or two women were kept in the committee. But this year, the status quo has been changed," added Nandita.
Priyanka Roy, general secretary of the committee, echoed the same.
Mallika Dey, Moulvibazar's additional district magistrate, said, "Durga is considered to be the manifestation of feminine power. The leadership of these women is a perfect representation of that."
"Durga Puja is being held in 1,006 puja mandaps in the district," she added.
According to the temple authorities, a Marwari businessman named Champalal Shando established the Durgabari temple about 80 years ago during the British period. Durga Puja has been organised there since then.