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A Heart Shivering Incident In Shivpur

A Heart Shivering Incident In Shivpur

Cover of the story Shivering in Shibpur

Diptarag Bhattacharjee and Indraneel Ganguli narrate a heart shivering incident that took place in Shivpur during a Poite (Upanayan: Sacred Thread) ceremony

1991, Shibpur, Howrah. It was my cousin Bubun’s Poite (Upanayan: Sacred Thread) ceremony and the entire family had congregated at GOSWAMI COMPOUND, our ancestral home.

Illustration depicting GOSWAMI COMPOUND, the ancestral home. where Bubun’s Poite (Upanayan: Sacred Thread) ceremony was being held

Upanayana (Bengali: Poite) is the rite of passage for the start of formal education of writing, numbers, reading, Vedangas, arts and other skills. The strands of the thread also stand for purity of thoughts, words and deeds of the wearer. Hence, wearing the sacred thread has been extremely significant in Hinduism as it marked the beginning of education for the child. It is usually an elaborate affair and involves several steps, taking up to a few hours.

But for me, it was special, for I was made “in-charge” of the culinary arrangements – sorting, planning, supervision and ensuring the timely serving of lunch, across batches, to the hundreds of guests and household members. It had its perks too!

Illustration depicts a scene from fish market and a man enjoying his meal

And the perks involved Ilish Maacher Dim Bhaja and Ilish Maach Bhaja, served hot, dripping in mustard oil…

Our ancestral house in Bangladesh was exchanged for the GOSWAMI COMPOUND … old memories … lots of stories … around the burning stoves, getting ready for lunch …

Illustartion depicts the cook from his ancestral house ans a Moulvi

The Kulpurohit (household priest) who was a Tantrik

Our Kulpurohit (household priest) was a Tantrik. He had a magnetic personality and a roving eye.

The religious rituals continued well beyond four hours … as was expected. But it seemed, never to end … the first batch of guests had settled for the feast.

Illustration depicts the The religious rituals continuing and the first batch has sat down to have the feast of the ceremony


Everyone was getting a trifle impatient – why were the rituals taking so long?

The ritual was taking too much of time

Now wasn’t it getting a bit too much – the rituals were well over six hours! It was a deviation from the usual …

Finally it ends. A visibly tired and worried Guru emerges from the place of worship … what a relief it must have been for young Bubun and his parents!

Illustration depicts the Guru emerging from the place of worship and asking a few questions

Gurudev asks a pointed question to my Jethu (uncle) – he seemed very confident about his query …

My uncle tried hard to recall and after some effort, he blurted out a name – Radhu. He was our domestic help for many years, before that fateful incident …

Radhu was the domestic help for many years

For reasons completely unknown to the family, Radhu had suddenly ended his life by hanging himself from the Neem tree, within the courtyard. The Police had pursued an investigation for a few months and finally proclaimed it as a case of “suicide”. The matter had ended there, and no one spoke about this much.

Illustration depicending his life by hanging himself from the Neem tree, within the courtyard.

What I clearly remember him advising my uncle was, “please try and offer a puja, a Pindo Daan, meaning giving charity to the body of the deceased.”

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Radhu's spirit lookinf through the window


DIG-TALES created by Indraneel Ganguli and Diptarag Bhattacharjee

Illustrated by Indraneel Ganguli

Diptarag BhattacharjeeDiptarag Bhattacharjee

Diptarag manages country operations for a US multinational. Photography amateur, food explorer, story teller, cricket aficionado and suffers from wanderlust.

Indroneel GanguliIndraneel Ganguli

Brand builder, artist-writer, storyteller and lover of world cuisine. With a 25-year career across top advertising firms, telecom and IT, he now runs his Marketing Consulting consortium “ReachIG”.



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