There are still a few places lurking on earth, where culture and love transcend geographical boundaries. Where politics is forgotten in the spirit of humanity, and the common man unites over cultural similitudes.
One such haven is River Ichhamati, the trans-boundary river between India and Bangladesh, where Devi Durga receives a united send-off from both the nations, on Dashami.
The experience is scintillating, to say the least. Boats from both nations, loaded with flags, natives and Durga idols, meet mid-stream for the Bisorjan (immersion) and exchange of Bijoya pleasantries.
A River of Emotions
In India, the boats depart from the dock at Taki. Here the river stretches for about 600-800 metres, and the convergence of people happens within a span of around 4kms, stretching from Sodepur to the confluence of Ichamati and Dasa rivers. Across the river, boats depart from the Debhatta Upa Zilla of Bangladesh.
For many, this meeting is more than symbolic. During the division of the two nations in ’47, many families were pulled apart – siblings and cousins drifted, friends were separated, parents lost touch with their children. Generations later, quite a few grab this opportunity to reconnect with their loved ones across the border, on this emotional day.
A 70-year-old lady in Hasnabad embarks a boat every year from Taki to meet her sister’s kids from Nurnagar in Bangladesh. A 5-year-old boy meets his great-grandfather only on this day every year.
People of the two nations sing Rabindra Sangeet hailing the beauty of Bengal (undivided), dance, exchange sweets and hugs. The farewell of the Goddess becomes a teary-eyed affair for reasons more than one.
An Upstream Task
While the idea of this re-union is fascinating, for the last few years, the security forces on both sides – the BSF in India and the BGB in Bangladesh, have been struggling to keep the Moitree (congregation) clean and incident-free.
Miscreants from both sides, unfortunately, use this happy occasion to infiltrate illegally, in addition to smuggling prohibited products across the river border.
The authorities, therefore, took the unpopular, but necessary, decision in 2012 to disallow crossing of the mid-stream border on either side – resulting in a slightly restricted proceeding since then. A massive operation ensues every year to protect the nations from border crimes.
A Beautiful Adieu
Over the years, security measures have thawed the excitement of this rendezvous. However, the event still elicits beautiful emotions in the heart of the Bengalis.
Even this year, between the short stipulated time of 3pm to 6pm, 19 Durga idols were immersed in the enigmatic Ichamati – 15 from India and 4 from Bangladesh.
Heavy hearts bid adieu to Durga and beloved neighbors with the reassuring chants filling the air, Aschhe Bocchor Abar Hobe (see you again next year)!
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