15 C
New Delhi
Friday 13 December 2019
India Sundarbans deity turns exclusively Hindu; Muslims shun her 'due...

Sundarbans deity turns exclusively Hindu; Muslims shun her ‘due to BJP’

While Muslims complain BJP's act of renaming the local deity alienated them, Hindus say Muslims never worshipped her in the first place

Kolkata: Society in West Bengal now stands polarised between the BJP and Trinamool. But now gods are divided too. Vanbibi (pronounced Bonbibi, a combination of the Sanskrit vana for jungle and Persian bibi for mother), said to be the goddess of the Sundarbans, has fallen prey to this polarisation. Both Hindus and Muslims of the region used to bow to Goddess Bonbibi traditionally, but now this goddess is exclusively Hindu.

At several places in the Sunderbans during the election, BJP leaders began their campaign with the worship of Bonbibi in the name of Bondebi, solemnised by some local priests, and made public statements about the local tradition of which the deity is an integral part, say some local Muslims. “Calling Bonbibi Bondebi defies our joint heritage,” said one of them, adding that not only the Hindus but Muslims also have faith in Bonbibi.

Muslim voters say that they are hurt by this “propaganda” and so they have distanced themselves from the Sunderbans tradition.

Sundarbans
Bonbibi and Dukhe

On this, BJP leader and local panchayat member Paritosh Mandal of the Sundarbans says, “Muslims never worshipped Bonbibi. This tradition has been kept alive by the Hindus and it’s they who have been worshipping the goddess. That’s why we address her as Bondebi instead of Bonbibi. Now the villagers call them by this name.”

Mandal lives in the Gosaba locality of the Joynagar Lok Sabha constituency where voting is going to be held in the last phase on Sunday. Especially honey collectors and woodcutters worship Bonbibi. It is believed that she is the enemy of the king of the jungle.

According to the local belief, Bonbibi was the daughter of Ibrahim, a fakir who came from Mecca. Ibrahim became the king of the Sundarbans. He had no children from his first wife, Phoolbibi. He married Golabibi who gave birth to twins Bonbibi and Shah Junglee.

But Ibrahim had promised his first wife he would abandon the second. When Golabibi was pregnant, he left her in the woods. This is where Bonbibi was born and raised as a Muslim since birth.

However, whether the name of the deity has traditionally been Bonbibi or Bondebi, it’s not the local BJP unit alone that says only Hindus have worshipped her traditionally.

Supad Mandal, who collects honey in Gosaba, says, “We always take the statue of the goddess with us and worship her on the banks of the river before entering the forest. However, Muslims do not worship her.”

In the books and old temples, the deity is mentioned as Bonbibi. According to the local people, the old tradition is now over and the goddess is now wholly Hindu.

But research on the subject yielded a different result. Bondebi is not a name coined by the local BJP. It is as old as the other names of the deity, Bandurga and Byaghradevi. These names are found in the book Beyond National Borders and Religious Boundaries: Muslim and Hindu Veneration of Bonbibi by Sufia Uddin published in 2011. The alternative names figure also in In Mathew N Schmalz and Peter Gottschalk-edited Engaging South Asian Religions: Boundaries, Appropriations, and Resistances. They find mentions in Sukumar Sen’s 1993 Bengali title Islami Bangla Sahitya as well.

Along with Bondebi or Bonbibi is often seen an idol of a boy called Dukhe, about whom there is another folklore not related to the current political dispute.

Subscribe to our newsletter

You will get all our latest news and articles via email when you subscribe

The email despatches will be non-commercial in nature
Disputes, if any, subject to jurisdiction in New Delhi

Leave a Reply

Opinion

Justice That Is Instant Is Travesty

But neither the state nor society can wash their hands off this social craving for settling scores in the name of doing justice to the victim

Karnataka Voters Punished INC, JDS Leaders

Even the BJP was not confident of the result even as their leaders kept saying for public consumption they were winning all the 15 seats

The United States Of The World

The United States, stereotyped as the land of plenty and plentiful guns, is still a destination of choice for people from across the world

प्याज़ के आँसू न रोएँ — महंगाई से किसान, उपभोक्ता दोनों को फ़ायदा

जिस अल्प मुद्रास्फीति की वजह से वे सरकार से बहुत खुश थे, उसी 1.38 प्रतिशत की खाद्यान्न मुद्रास्फीति के कारण किसानों को अपने पैदावार के लिए समुचित मूल्य नहीं मिल रहे थे

CAB Can Correct Wrongs Of NRC

… if the government can fix the inept bureaucracy and explain what happens to those marked as aliens, as the neighbours are not taking them back
- Advertisement -

Elsewhere

India responds to Pakistani take on CAB late, but how!

India responded also to Bangladesh foreign minister's cancellation of India visit, but this response was measured and reconciliatory

Ayodhya verdict: SC dismisses all 18 review petitions

The rejection of the review petitions has removed the last hurdle in building the Ram temple Hindus have been promised in Ayodhya

Hanging Nirbhaya case convicts: The procedure

What happens on the day designated for execution by hanging at Tihar: From waking the convict up at 5 AM to issuing of the death certificate

Indian citizens now: Pre-2015 non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan

'Modi government trusts the Constitution of the country and I assure you that this country will never be Muslim-free,' Shah said, however, allaying the fears of the largest minority community in India

CAB: Assam erupts, curfew in Guwahati, internet blocked

A student protesting against CAB called the Sonowal government 'barbaric'; until CAB is withdrawn, the demonstrators won't yield, he said

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you

For fearless journalism

%d bloggers like this: