Ankita first told me about this mela. She got to know from her school where the teachers were planning a visit the Baro Bhooter Mela. I had never heard of such a mela at the heart of Kolkata. Very next day, I was traveling to office, sharing my ride with a colleague who stays in Baghajatin area. He told me that the mela was very old and that eggs are offered at the temple on Sankranti day. I had never ever heard of eggs being offered in any temple. So we decided to drop by on a Saturday evening and find out.
This mela is held just beside Lalka water tank in Bijoygarh Sree Colony area. If you are coming from Jadavpur or Garia, you have to get down at Baghajatin more. Auto-rickshaws line up in front of Kamdhendu Sweets shop which will drop you right at the Mela site.
There is a beautiful temple “Baro Bhoot Dadosh Avatar Mandir” which is covered with lights. A huge crowd turns up every year on the occasion and there is a large fair (mela) which takes place just opposite to the temple. This year, it was 68th year of the mela and went on from 12th Jan, 2019 to 23rd Jan, 2019. Just next to the temple, there is a area which is occupied by the Sadhus resplendent in their saffron clothes.
“Baro Bhoot” means Vishnu’s twelve avatars. Apart from twelve avatars of Vishnu, the temple has idols of Shiv and other idols.
Sadly, I did not know about the mela earlier and missed visiting temple on the Sankranti morning. However, I got hold of few of the puja committee members in an attempt to get the history of this mela. At first, they said that it was all published in one leaflet last year and they would get a copy for me. I had to visit the place two or three more times but could not get hold of the write-up. On the third attempt, I happened to meet with a few old gentlemen who gave me few precious details on the history.
During separation of Bengal in 1905, many people from Rohitpur, Dhaka, Bangladesh came and settled in Jadavpur, Baghajatin, Bijoygarh and Sree Colony area. They brought with them the culture and regious beliefs. At that time, there was a huge jungle just beside Rohitpur village and due to fear from animals, the villagers started worshipping “Bon Durga”. Besides, they also used to worship Vishnu and his avatars. When they settled in India, they started the puja of “Bon Durga” and started the Baro Bhooter Mela.
Story goes that Bon Durga Devi once came to hut of a poor villager. She came disguised as a Old Begger Women and asked for some food. At that time, there was only Rice and Duck egg (Hasher Dim) available at the poor villager’s hut and he boiled rice with egg and gave her to eat. Bon Durga Devi was very pleased and that is how this practise of offering Duck egg started. The belief is that Duck egg is vegetarian whereas Chicken egg is non-vegetarian.
People come from distant places like Birati, Baguihati, Barasat, Madhyamgram and even Bardhaman and line up from 5am in the morning on Sankranti day. Some offer eggs and place their wishes whereas others offer eggs since their wishes got fulfilled.
Add on bonus is the huge mela which has numerous shops. Starting from food stalls to small items, kitchen utensils to cosmetics, jewellery to toys and even shops selling magic kits and accessories – this mela has all. Speciality of this mela are water-filled balloons which is a must have for all kids who visit this mela.
What I gathered is that after the offerings are done, the thousands of eggs are distributed in the surrounding hospitals, old age homes and ashrams.
If you have missed visiting this mela this year, make sure you visit this next year during Sankranti.