For the first time probably in over a century, there were no fair during Kali Puja in Tripura’s half a millennium old Udaipur Matabari due to the pandemic COVID-19 this year.
The fair every year attracts saints and pilgrims from entire eastern India and even from neighbouring Bangladesh.
Traditionally, Kali Puja for the northeastern state Tripura begins every year with the “Mangalarti” early in the morning of Diwali at the Matabari by the banks of Kamala Sagar in the ancient city Udaipur of Gomati district, about 55 km from the state capital Agartala.
Lakhs of devotees every year gather on the first day of Diwali in a fair that goes on for four days around the temple, one of the 51 Shakti peethas where Goddess Tripura Sundari or Tripureswari — one of the avatars of Goddess Kali — rests.
The Mangalarti in the wee hours of Saturday, however, received a massive participation including Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb with his wife and daughter, Agriculture minister Pranjit Singh Roy and legislator Biplab Ghosh among the many VVIP guests.
CM Deb had been an ardent devotee of Goddess Tripureshwari, that was evident from his many speeches in which he was heard swearing by the goddess.
In 2017, before starting the election campaign for the state Assembly elections on February 2018, Deb, a first timer in politics, began his campaigns after taking blessings from the goddess.
According to legends, the temple was built by Tripura Maharaja Dhanya Manikya in 1501 in the site where Goddess Kali’s right foot fell during Nataraj’s Tandava Nritya.
“The Maharaja, whose family is a Vaishnava devotee traditionally, had seen goddess Tripureshwari in his dream who had asked him to build the temple. He had intended to build a Vishnu temple, but on the goddess’s request, built the Goddess’s temple in the site of the shaktipeeth,” said Priyanka Dev Barman who reported on the history of the temple in a report published in 2016.
In june this year Ambubachi Mela, held in another Shaktipeeth Kamakhya in Guwahati, Assam was also cancelled due to the pandemic.