Newly-married Monali and Dipen came to Pandu Ghat in Guwahati after an early morning stroll to see ‘Pitri-Tarpan’ rituals that take place on the day of ‘Mahalaya’ on the bank of the mighty Brahmaputra.
The occasion marks the end of ‘Pretapakhya’ and the beginning of “Devipakhya” or the fortnight when Bengali Hindus celebrate the Durga Puja.
But what was simply a stroll for Dipen Mandal and his wife amid the blooming catkins around the bank ended up as a remarkable experience for the couple.
“We were observing the mass ‘Pitri Tarpan’, a little far from the actual site where people are performing the rituals for their ancestors. Suddenly I noticed a hue and cry of people indicating a spot in the water at a distance from the bank,” said Dipen.
“And an old man – a priest – is trying to pull someone up from the water, but was not able to do so. With no other thought, I rushed and jumped into the water to help the priest and to catch hold of the drowning man,” Dipen added heaving a sigh of relief after saving the life of 30-year-old Debaditya Purkayastha.
Pandu Ghat on Wednesday witnessed a huge crowd visiting the river bank on the day of Mahalaya just as it did on this day in the pre-Covid19 years.
Mahalaya heralds the beginning of Durgotsav 2021 among Bengali Hindus.
But for Rina Purkayastha, the return of her son, who drowned while performing the rituals of ‘Pitri-tarpan’ has a different significance.
Dipen and the old family priest Hiralal Bhattacharjee appeared as a saviour whereas others were just stuck with a sudden shock of seeing a drowning man, but could not rush to rescue him.
“While I was getting to the water, the place was not so deep. Suddenly the mud slid over my feet and I found that the water was much deeper, which I could not recognise and I sank,” expressed Debaditya Purkayastha, after becoming stable.
Interestingly, in this biggest gathering of people on the river bank of the Brahmaputra during ‘Mahalaya’, not a single monitoring boat of the river police or rescue team of the SDRF was not seen on the site, which raised questions among many.
Four school students drowned in river Brahmaputra at the same location recently.
But for Monali, who has just started her married life with Dipen Mandal, seems happy to see a new side of her life partner who cares for people too.
(Report by Subhamoy Bhattacharjee)