Indian devotional history always had some bizarre and peculiar rituals that never failed to amaze us and scare us at times. Here we come back with one such ritual that started centuries ago and still is in execution every year on Navaratri celebrations. There is an Indian Hindu Temple where they close the Ashtami (Eighth day of Navaratri celebrations) ceremony by offering human blood to the goddess in the temple. This tradition is being followed continuously over 250 years in Cooch Behar, West Bengal.
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The ‘Borodevi Mandir’ in Cooch Behar witnesses the human blood offering as a part of Ashtami Pooja every year. The local oral history says that for over 500 years the kings used to give human lives to the goddess to satisfy her. The king of that time, Biswa Singha has found the Durga Idol in Kamrup forests which comes under Assam now. It says to be a bigger replica of the original idol which is in famous Madan Mohan temple, Assam. Then Biswa Singha has brought the idol to his kingdom and started worshipping the goddess Durga since then. The Devi’s skin texture here is reddish-yellow and she is accompanied by Jaya and Bijoya, you can still see them standing both sides of Durga ma idol. The locals believe the empire started witnessing success since then.
Many generations after Biswa Singha has followed the ritual and gave human sacrifices. Later a fiver centuries, in the period of King Naranarayan the slaughter has been stopped officially. Duar Bakshi Rati Deb Bakshi, who used to take care of the religious activities and the main priest of the kingdom has suggested the king to stop killing people on the name of god. And the king found it sensible and replaced the tradition and diluted the process. It’s been 250 years that the slaughter has been stopped but the Pooja still goes on in a different way.
Shibendra Nath Ray (52) who basically belongs to the family which used to sacrifice themselves for the kingdom, performs the Ashtami Pooja every year and at the end of it, he offers three drops of his own blood along with a rice grain to close the ceremony. It is believed that Pooja is considered to be incomplete without offering blood.
Though this entire Pooja and other formalities are integral to the temple and happens behind the closed doors with two constables of the state armed police keep a watch outside. A lot of human rights committees feel it has to stop totally, but Ray and the other locals strongly feel it is for the wellbeing of the people of Cooch Behar and shouldn’t be stopped. Since Ray is unmarried, he said one of his nephews might come forward to continue the tradition after him.
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