528-year-old Manasa temple in Barishal arranges annual Manasa Puja

Published : 12 Aug 2022 07:30 PM | Updated : 12 Aug 2022 07:30 PM

In the historical Mansa temple founded by the famous poet Vijay Gupta, the immortal poem of medieval Bengali literature "Mansa Mangal", the three-day pre-puja Rayani song began on August 11. It will continue until the late night of August 13. Rayani songs will be performed by artists of Barishal's historical Rayani Dal Sri Sri Ma Mansa community. The annual puja of Mansa Devi will be held on August 17 at the end of Rayani.

Every year 'Bishahari' or Mansa Devi Puja is being celebrated all over the Indian subcontinent on the last day of the Bengali Shravan month with great fanfare. This year, the 528 years old temple will hold the annual worship ceremony of Goddess Mansa in Agailjhara Upazila of Barishal district. 

Every year, before the puja, the goddess' Ahuti Parva Rayani song festival is held in that temple with rhythm, poetry and melody. Rayani song is basically a unique rendition of rhythm and melody taken from Mansa Mangal Kavya. This Rayani song narrates the story of Chand Saudagar, his son Lakshinder and daughter-in-law Sati Behula's struggle to revive her husband Lakshinder who died of snakebite and worshiped 'Mansa' as a goddess in the mortal world. Wonderful examples of the artist's artistic description of color, tone and poetry.

In the mansa temple established by Vijay Gupta, which captures the phrase "Dharma jara jara, utsav sbarba", forgetting caste, creed, caste differences, thousands of devotees and pilgrims from different countries and regions gather in the temple to offer their pushparghya at the feet of Mother Mansa on the annual puja day.

According to Mansa Mangal poetry, history and folklore, about 528 years ago, during the reign of Sultan Hossain Shahr in the Middle Ages, in the year 1494, the poet Vijay Gupta was commanded by the serpent goddess Mansa or Bishahari Devi in a powerful dream to raise a pot of worship from the vast pond of his house in his home in Goila village. He then established the temple. Later, the poem “Padmapuraan” or “Mansa Mangal” had been written sitting under a Bakul tree.

During the reign of Sultan Hossain Shahra, one of the patrons of Bengali literature at that time, Vijay Gupta Mansa Mangal was honored with the title of "Mahakabi" in the royal court.

Historically Vijay Gupta's exact date of birth or death is not known. However, based on the information obtained from the research, he probably died at Kashidham in 1520 AD at the age of 70. As such, he was born in 1450 AD. At the age of 44, he wrote Mansa Mangal Kavya. Mahakabi Vijay Gupta's father's name is Sanatan Gupta and mother's name is Ru'ini Devi.

Even before Vijay Gupta, several Pandits and poets composed Mansa Mangal. One of whom was Kanahri Dutta of Mymensingh. But none of them recorded the day, date and year in their poetry.

Vijay Gupta was the first to record English dates and years in his poem Manasa Mangal. Although Vijay Gupta's poetry is dull compared to others, he became one of the authors of Mansa Mangal Kavya as he recorded the Gunakirtan of Nripati Tilak famous Sultan Hussain Shah and the English date and year. And for this reason, after receiving the title of "Mahakabi" in the royal court, the worship of Mansa Devi became popular in different countries of the world including India. Which continues to this day. 

Poet Vijay Gupta Smriti Raksha Mansa Temple Conservation and Development Committee Advisor Ekushey Medalist and columnist heroic freedom fighter Ajay Dasgupta said that during the war of independence in 1971, Pakistani soldiers stole the stone idol of Goddess Mansa from the temple. Pujas are held in the pots and idols built during the northern period. 

Today, the temple is widely known as a religious place of worship as well as a modern tourist center. Mansa temple of historic Vijay Gupta tops the list of tourist places of Barishal district administration.

Judges, ministers, state ministers, secretaries and foreign diplomats, officials of various embassies and famous people of the country come to visit the historic Mansa temple.

The excellence of this temple is recognized as a significant place of tourism, visited by pilgrims, visitors and cultural personalities from home and abroad.