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Upananda Brahmachari | HENB | Haridwar | Oct 13, 2019:: In a very unique ritual development, ‘Noakhali Hindu Genocide’ is incorporated in the ‘Lakshmir Panchali’ (lyrical reading of texts dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi) and read with full reverence in the annual ‘Kojagari Lakshmi Puja’ (Mother Lakshmi worship in the night of full moon of Bengali month Ashwin) as initiated by some spiritual masters and devout Hindu dharmik organizations.
The conventional ‘Lakshmir Panchali’ is read on every Thursday in Lakshmi Puja as usually performed by Bengali Hindu women folk with special reading of particular ‘Brata Katha’ (ritualistic episode) specified for each months of Bengali calendar. Now, the tragic episode of Noakhali concerned with gruesome murders of thousands of innocent Hindus as perpetrated by the barbaric Islamic people of East Bengal, has been included in the ‘Lakshmir Panchali’ as “Lakshmir Panchali: Noakhali Parba” and read out in the Kojagari Lakshmi worship in West Bengal in hundreds of places.
The Noakhali riots+ were a series of organized massacres, rapes, abductions and forced conversions of Hindus to Islam and looting and arson of Hindu properties perpetrated by the Muslim community (influenced by Muslim League) in the districts of Noakhali in the Chittagong Division of Bengal (now in Bangladesh) in October–November 1946, a year before India’s independence from British rule.
It affected the areas under the Ramganj, Begumganj, Raipur, Lakshmipur, Chhagalnaiya and Sandwip police stations in Noakhali district and the areas under the Hajiganj, Faridganj, Chandpur, Laksham and Chauddagram police stations in Tipperah district, a total area of more than 2,000 square miles.
The massacre of the Hindu population started on 10 October, on the day of Kojagari Lakshmi Puja and continued unabated for about a week. It is estimated that 5,000 were killed (many historians differ with the quantum of deaths ranging 5000 to 10000), hundreds of Hindu women were raped and thousands of Hindu men and women were forcibly converted to Islam. Around 50,000 to 75,000 survivors were sheltered in temporary relief camps in Comilla, Chandpur, Agartala and other places. Around 50,000 Hindus remained marooned in the affected areas under the strict surveillance of the Muslims, where the administration had no say. In some areas, Hindus had to obtain permits from the Muslim leaders in order to travel outside their villages. The forcibly converted Hindus were coerced to give written declarations that they had converted to Islam of their own free will. Sometimes, they were confined in others’ houses and only allowed to be in their own house when an official party came for inspection. According to Dinesh Chandra, Hindus were forced to pay subscriptions to the Muslim League and jiziyah, the protection tax paid by dhimmis in an Islamic state.
Haran Chandra Ghosh Choudhuri, the only Hindu representative to then Bengal Legislative Assembly from the district of Noakhali, described the incidents as “the organized fury of the Muslim mob”. Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calcutta and the former Finance Minister of Bengal, dismissed the argument that the Noakhali incidents were ordinary communal riots. He described the events as a planned and concerted attack by the minority community on the majority community.
The Pseudo secular and pro-Muslim M K Gandhi camped in Noakhali for four months and toured the district in a mission to restore peace and communal harmony only after seeing the Hindu repercussion and retaliations in Bihar and United province+. However, the peace mission was failed to restore confidence among the survivors, who could not be permanently rehabilitated in their villages. In the meantime, the Congress leadership accepted the Partition of India and the peace mission and other relief camps were abandoned. The majority of the survivors migrated to West Bengal, Tripura and Assam.
There is a secular process in India and among the so called Bengali Hindu intellectuals to ignore and omit the ordeal of the Bengali Hindus in the massacre of Noakhali, which is now challenged by many Hindu Forums and the ordeal and memoirs of Noakhali Genocide in Kojagori Purnima night in 1946 and consecutive days has been incorporated in the “Lakshmir Panchali” of late now.
The lyrical composition “Lakshmir Panchali: Noakhali Parba” is written by a dedicated Hindu poet and activist Supriyo Banerjee which has been acclaimed wide appreciation from different corners and recited by hundred of Hindu women in this Kojagari Lakshmi Puja.
Expressing his gratitude to the Lakshmi worshiper Bengali women folk for accepting his efforts, Banerjee (a Brahmin himself) told HENB. “Our efforts will be to popularize this Lakshmir Panchali : Noakhali Parba to the Brahmins (who performs the scriptural Lakshmi Puja as priest), so that they read out the same in every Kojagari Lakshmi Puja and among the Bengali Hindu women folk as a combination of Bhakti-Shakti-Itihas jagaran (awareness generation of devotion-strength & historical culmination) for future protection and prosperity.”
Banerjee elaborated his plan to recast the popular ‘Panchalis-Brata Kathas’ which were adulterated in Sultani (Muslim) Period in Bengal by infusing those with anti-Hindu customs and practices such as aspiration to see (taste) beef in Bipadtarini Panchali and to believe a Muslim Peer as Lord Narayan in Satya Narayan Panchali.
“The Muslim rulers put compulsion to change the traditional Hindu Brata-Kathas and Panchalis with concoction of Muslim beliefs, customs, menaces in a view to break the Hindu tradition and faith and to influence the Hindus in their very puja place/time in the name of harmony conspiracy. It must be changed now,” Banerjee told HENB emphatically.
Courtesy: Wikipedia for ‘Noakhali Riots 1946’ inputs.