More than five thousand devotees from different parts of Agartala watched in rapt attention Kumari puja – the ritual of worshiping a pre-pubertine girl as the goddess, at Ramakrishna Mission, Dhaleswar here on Mahashtami on Sunday.
An atmosphere of gaiety and religiosity prevailed over the entire city with devotees of all ages cutting across social boundaries turned out in their best offering anjali (floral offerings) to the goddess amid the heavy beats of dhak (drums).
Kumari Puja was started by Swami Vivekananda in 1901 at the Ramakrishna Math in West Bengal to underline the importance of women.
The ritual starts from dawn, when after a bath in the holy waters of the Hooghly river, the ‘Kumari’ is wrapped in a red sari, adorned with floral ornaments and given a ‘sindur(vermillion) mark on her forehead.
Displaying equanimity, she sits for hours silently before Goddess Durga’s idol on a chair with priests chanting hymns, thereby creating a mesmerising atmosphere.
After the puja, the divinity of the goddess descends into the Kumari.
This year Nidhi Bhattacharjee, a five-year-old girl child was worshipped at Ramkrishna Mission, Agartala.