Exclusive photostory | Inside Bijni’s 126 year old Lakshmi Mahotsav

Photos by Deep Jyoti Das and Mrinmoy Buragohain

Mela and Assam, what comes to one’s mind when we hear these two words? Ambubachi Mela, of course! However, another mela has totally been sidelined by most of the people as well as mainstream media that has been a part of the Lakshmi Mahotsav celebrated at Bijni in Lower Assam. The Mahotsav comprises of Lakshmi Puja celebration and a Mela that follows. Members of the organising committee state that as per records, the Mahotsav has been celebrated since the last 126 years, however, it is older than that.

This year, the Mahotsav was celebrated from October 05 to October 16 and Team UniTreed was lucky to visit and be a part of the Mahotsav.

The journey and anticipation of something so amazing in itself was a blessing

The roads were covered with colourful stalls

A legacy of 126 years and more

The famous Lakshmi Temple of Bijni

In conversation with Bhaben Chandra Barman

A conversation with Bhaben Chandra Barman, Working President of the Lakshmi Mahotsav organising committee revealed that more than one lakh people visit the Mahotsav every day. “The puja was then organised by Bijit Narayan, who was a descendent of Bir Chilarai and has been continuing till date. It has become a tradition now. Records are present of the Mahotsav being organised 126 years ago but we believe that it is older. Earlier records are not present but again it has been 126 years, very difficult to preserve them” he adds. He also informed that the Mahotsav is organised with the cooperation of various student organisations such as AASU, AKRSU among others, the district administration and the local people. “There has been no such incident till date that shows the Mahotsav in a negative light”, he says proudly.

 King Bijit Narayan

Name of Presidents and Secretaries of the Committee since 1938

The organising committee had also arranged food for as many travelers and pilgrims as they could (we were lucky enough to have a meal together)

Bhaben Chandra Barman also informed us that when the Mahotsav started, there were people from Kolkata and Haryana who had set up stalls. Their descendents come to the Mahotsav every year and set up their stalls till date. “We always keep a space for them” he said.

A stroll within the mela made us realise that there was almost everything in it.

Now who doesn’t love cotton candies and popcorn?

Cups on sale (Fixed price BTW)

The mandatory children’s corner

The people’s shooting range

Shiv Ji, Hanuman Ji, Ganesh Ji spotted among others

No Mela is complete without JALEBI

The Desi Snacks Zone

Balloons, anyone?

The Police had set up three Entry cum Exit gates with detectors, for security of the visitors. Local people had volunteered too, for duty at the gates

A total of five theatres were staged during the 12 day Mahotsav

Maut ka Kuaa (Still gives me the chills)

Yeh Duniya baadi Gol hai

Forget Criss Angel, Desi Jaadoo is the Thing

An Expo within a Mela, is this some kind of inception going on? (BTW, there were two such expos)

Back to those days of childhood (There was also another circus “Emoinu Circus”)

Achar, that too from Kolkata. It’s pretty difficult to resist

The Mahotsav actually comes alive at night

The ambience of the Mahotsav was so amazing at night that we mutually and readily agreed to keep aside our cameras and get lost in the crowd. Sometimes, one should live a story and not report every bit of it; that keeps things special. Barman Daa was right when he said that more than one lakh visitors come to the mela everyday, we were a tiny part of it. A couple from Afghanistan was also there the previous day, another member of the committee said. The committee shall also publish a souvenir book every year, starting this year. Such a book was published in 1991 when the Mahotsav completed 100 years.

So, if you want to know more about the Mahotsav, be a part of it and feel the magic, do pay a visit next year. Yes, it’s not as famous as the Ambubachi Mela but it’s no less either (I am not comparing the two BTW).

See you next year at Bijni!

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