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RUSS YATRA (festival) of MADAN MOHAN in Cooch Behar


Russ Chakra - a part of Russ Yatra celebration in Madan Mohan temple premise


       The present temple of Madan Mohan was established in 1890 AD by Maharaja Nripendra Narayan. Since then the fair related to Russ Yatra used to take place around the four sides of the Bairagi Dighi (a big pool) adjacent to the temple. Later from 1912 onwards the fair was shifted to the Parade Ground (presently called Russmela Ground). The setup of the fair is a large scale arrangement which really may be appreciable to the tourists.


Close view (paper cutting) of Russ Chakra

       Of the twelve Yatras (journeys) of Lord Madan Mohan (like DolYatra, RathaYatra etc.), RussYatra is one the most celebrated festivals of Cooch Behar and the grandest of all celebrations associated with Madan Mohan. Starting from the auspicious day of Russ Purnima, special worship/offerings to Madan Mohan is carried out for continuous 15 days. Lord Madan Mohan is seen seated on His beautifully decorated throne with the golden umbrella atop, in the front corridor of the temple. MadanMohanBari lights up amidst special light decorations and exhibition of various clay statues related to Krishna-lila and Purana. Every year, concerning the RussLila of Sri Krishna, MadanMohanBari turns into a fusion of religious, social and cultural aspects of the people of Cooch Behar.

       It is possibly felt that to commemorate the house-warming ceremony of Maharaja Harendra Narayan along with his kin & relatives at the new residence of Bhetaguri on the Russ Purnima in 1812 AD, the Russmela (festival associated with Russ) is celebrated since then.


Russ Chakra on the temple premise (at daytime)


       The main attraction of the Russmela is the RussMancha or RussChakra. Built on bamboo framework all around a 30 feet tall wooden pole, the Russ Chakra is built with sophisticated paper designs finely cut-out along with posters of various Gods & Goddess. The Russ Chakra is the ancestral craft of a Muslim family. Direct influence of Buddhism and Islam religions can be observed on the Russ Chakra which symbolises the communal harmony viewpoint of the Maharajas of Cooch Behar. On the auspicious moment of Russ Purnima, after completion of the worship of Ma Katyayoni and Russ Mancha, the Maharaja used to declare the opening of the festival by rotating the Russ Chakra. At present, the District Magistrate of Cooch Behar (also President of the Debuttor Trust Board) performs the inauguration of the festival. People gather in flocks at the temple during the celebration of the Russmela because rotating the Russ Chakra is believed to be a holy duty of the devotees.

 

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