Cossipore had a number of old temples and heritage places which dates back to history. Being a frequent visitor there I found a very old rasmancha inside a math (open space) at Ratan Babu Road. This structure aroused my interest and that actually led me to visit there to trace its history. On one of my visit to the nearby Baranagar, I met respected Late Ajit Sen, and from his books, I gathered some information about this Rasbati.
The octagonal rasmancha was dedicated to Sri Sri Gopinath Jiu Thakur. There was an old stone plaque outside the open space which states the address of this place – 5, Ratan Babu Road, Cossipore.
This year I went there to witness the Rashyatra which is a three-day festival ending with the Gostho utsav (festival) on the morning of the fourth day. On all the three days at night the idols of Gopinath Jiu were taken to the adjacent rasmancha. On this occasion the rasmancha gets a fresh coat of paint and during the night it is decorated with coloured lights making the ambience truly festive.
A fair with more or less two hundred stalls selling different types of items from day to day commodities to sweets and clay models attracts a large number of people in the adjacent Ratan Babu Road and also inside the compound. When I went there on the second day of the festival I found people from all age groups crowded this area.
Keeping the rasmancha on your left, if you go a few more steps you will find the old Rasbati along with a natmandir which requires immediate restoration. The main festival here is Rashyatra normally held in the month of November every year on the auspicious occasion of purnima (full moon). That apart festivals like Dolyatra, Rathyatra, Jhulanyatra, Janmastami and Gostho are also celebrated here.
I was told that on the first three days of Rash festival the idols of Gopinath Jiu were first taken out from the temple in the upstairs to the natmandir.
There after performing puja, they are taken to the nearby rasmancha in a colourful procession. On the last day the open space gets lighted with colourful fireworks.
The natmandir is also decorated on the occasion of the festival where one can witness the life story of Sree Krishna through beautiful clay models. I was pretty lucky to hear the pala gaan. I am sharing all the pictures of clay models for the readers’ convenience.
Now tracing to its rich history I came to know from Late Ajit Sen that the Rasbati is more than two hundred and fifty years old. I was told by Sri Tushar Dey, sebait, that the Rasbati was founded by Mathurmohan Nandi. The Nandis having no issues decided to transfer this Rasbati through a will in the Bengali year in 1229 (which according to Gregorian calendar dates back to 1822) to Sri Sristidhar Dey, who happened to be the brother-in-law of Mathurmohan Nandi.
1. Anchalik Itihaas Baranagar (Volume 10) by Ajit Sen
2. Bisaya Baranagar by Ajit Sen
Date of posting: 18th November, 2019.