Plot summary[ edit ] Prafulla is married but is shunned by her wealthy father-in-law, Haraballabh, because of a spat between him and her mother on the day of her wedding. By custom prevalent at that time, a girl, once married, could not be divorced or remarried. Heartbroken at the fate of her only child, her mother died after a few years. Prafulla takes the drastic step to flee in the middle of the night to find the house of her in-laws whom she has never known, without any money, with knowledge of only the name of the village and name of her father-in-law.
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Photo: SNS A few places in North Bengal beatifically captivate everyone with their eternal aura of myth, history and mystery. The temples of Devi Chaudhurani and Bhavani Pathak are not apart from the class. According to myth, Devi Chaudhurani, who was previously known as Prafulla, was the queen of Manthana Estate of Rangpur district presently in Bangladesh.
When her husband abandoned her, she took shelter at the house of Bhavani Pathak, who was the leader of a gang of dacoits, and vanguard of the Sanyasi Movement in Rangpur. Subsequently, Devi Chaudhurani joined the gang and ensconced herself as the bandit queen of Baikunthapur. She was a generous and magnanimous landlady who used to donate money and wealth to the peasants. Legend has it that she used to travel in her bazra large and luxurious boat through the rivers of the Teesta and Karala, wandering from Rangpur to Baikunthapur presently in Jalpaiguri district.
If we now concentrate on historical shreds of evidence, we find that during the period from to , an intrepid and benign landlady named Joydurga Devi Chaudhurani reined the Manthana estate presently in Rangpur District, Bangladesh after the demise of her husband Narendra Narayan Roy Chaudhury without any legacy.
Warren Hastings, the Governor General of East India Company, had paid diligent effort to earn additional revenue from the peasants of Baikunthapur with the aid of tyrant leaseholder Debi Singh. At this juncture, Joydurga Devi Chaudhurani emerged as the saviour of the peasants. Long ago, numerous places of Jalpaiguri district were part of Rangpur district in the British era prior to the formation of Jalpaiguri as a separate district in Devi Chaudhurani used to meander through the Teesta basin of Rangpur district and almost the entire basin of Karala river in present Jalpaiguri district and rendered donations and distributions to the poor peasants inside the Baikunthapur forest.
On her way to the Karala river, either to meet Bhavani Pathak or to make donations to the peasants, she first used to visit a temple to pray before the Goddess Kali. At Shikarpur tea garden, another remembrance of Devi Chaudhurani exists in a pagoda-shaped temple called the Bhavani Pathak Mandir. However, the temple had been constructed by Darpadev Raikat , the landlord of Baikunthapur.
The two wood-carved idols of Bhavani Pathak and Devi Chaudhurani are worshipped in that temple. The inner wall is painted with the scenery of the forest on one side, and a floating bazra large boat on the wavy rippled water of the river Teesta on the other.
But unfortunately, the Bhavani Pathak Temple, which had been carrying the mythical and historical inheritance of Baikunthapur, was gutted in a fire in October However, the government has assured a quick renovation process. Manthani is another place of Devi Chaudhurani memorial in Jalpaiguri where a similar wooden image is found in a temple named Manthani situated on the Belacoba-Randhamali road under the Rajganj police station.
In the Manthani village, the name of the goddess is Manthani. The village name Manthani perhaps came from the name of the estate Manthani, paying gratitude to Devi Chaudhurani.
The legend of Devi Chaudhurani is more than years old, but her ubiquitous presence is still tangible in the entire Baikunthapur area. She is still alive in the souls of people in Jalpaiguri in the thrill of her gut-churning joust with the British, her unstinted support to the peasants; and the sublime beauty of her magnificent aura that still reverberates in the stony silence of the temples where the myth and veracity cohere with their unusual coexistence.
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