Manchas are of three types – rasmancha, dolmancha and tulsimancha. In my previous blog posts I have written about Rasmancha and Dolmancha. Today I will concentrate on tulsimancha. Of the three manchas, tulsimancha is the smallest and is mainly found in domestic households and also in many temples of West Bengal. A tulsimancha is built centering a tulsi tree.
Tulsimancha or tulsimandir is “merely a molded base without superstructure.” In many cases tulsimanchas are present in the temple courtyard whereas in domestic household they are kept outside the room and, in many cases, in the housetop where the thakurghar is present. They are generally placed outside thakurghar. After dusk, the ladies blow the conch shell, light the oil lamp and offer incense stick near the tulsimancha. This is a common feature in many rural households.
Regarding the structure of the tulsimancha, it does not follow any definite pattern particularly those present in domestic households. It is placed on a raised platform and is mainly built with bricks with the top open so that the tulsi tree can grow. There is a provision where the oil lamp can be placed.
Tulsimanchas may be quadrangular, octagonal, cirucular or even oval. In some cases, it has rich terracotta decorations and in a very few, it has written plaque. In the above four tulsimanchas, if you go through them minutely, then you will notice that each has an unique style of architecture. But one thing is common in all – they are built by the zamindars of Bawali. The first tulsimancha is completely circular; it looks like an inverted pot and is present at Baro Rasbari. The second is present at Radhakanta Temple, Mondal Temple Lane in Kolkata. The third and fourth are present in the temples of Bawali in South 24 Parganas district.
Tulsimanchas are also called as tulsimandir. In some cases, instead of one tulsi tree there are a number of trees present. Tulsi also known as Holy Basil are of different types – Ram Tulsi; Krishna Tulsi, Amrita Tulsi, Vana Tulsi. One thing I noticed during my visit to different temples of West Bengal is that tulsimanchas are mainly present where Radha-Krishna is worshipped; and mostly in rural households. Tulsi leaves are offered during worship. In the above picture the left tulsimancha is present near Mitra Ganga at Joynagar in South 24 Parganas while the right belongs to Radha Krishna Temple, Chakraberia, Howrah.
Brick Temples of Bengal by David McCutchion.
Date of Posting: 24th March, 2020.