Agartala, July 17 (ANI): The Kharchi Festival, symbolising communal harmony, kick started with much pomp and gaiety here this week with traditional gaiety and gusto.
The festival occupies pride of place, as it helps in binding tribal and non-tribal communities. Fourteen deities are worshipped during the weeklong celebrations.
Thousand of tribal and non-tribal devotees assembled in the courtyard of the temple of the Fourteen Gods where songs of union are sung and offered their prayers.
The festival sends out a message of unity and brotherhood among different religions and communities.
The Kharchi Puja is one of Tripura's main festivals.
Kharchi worship in the month of July.
The word Kharchi is derived from Khya meaning earth. Kharchi puja is the worship of earth that sustains mankind with all her resources.
Among the rituals, a usual feature of the festival is the sacrifice of goats and pigeons that takes place at an Alter.
According to a Bengali chronicle, the genesis of the festival is that - king Tripur was a barbarous ruler, so lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, killed him. Later, the widow of Tripur gave birth to a son, Trilochan, who brought the 14 deities and established them in Tripura.
Another legend says that once mother of King Trilochan went to bathe in a river in Tripura. The 14 gods were being chased by a wild buffalo. Mother of Trilochan helped them to kill the wild animal. The gods then visited the royal family and were worshipped ever since.
The wild buffalo was also sacrificed, which has ever since remained the tradition. A priest chants prayers while his assistant sacrifices the buffalo.
The five century-old ritual once practiced only by the royal family, the festival is celebrated by the general public irrespective of caste and creed.
"This is the family of the god and goddess of the royal family and right from the royal times this festival has been celebrated here. Every year people of Tripura, both tribal and non-tribal, celebrate this festival with full devotion," said Monorama Debbarma, a devotee.
A special feature of this ritual is that these deities are kept locked in a room throughout the year and it is only during these seven days that they are brought out so that the devotees can see them. It is a special moment.
"During my childhood days I used to come here my parents. This time I have come here to pray along with thousands of devotees who have come together to pray. This festival has been celebrated here since a long time and everyone enjoys this festival," said Ratan Paul, a devotee.
In the past, Tripura faced some conflict between the tribal and the non-tribal, but with their participation in the festival communal harmony prevails in the province.
The festival also attracts foreign tourists.
Influenced by the beliefs of the festival, Tripura is also known as the land of fourteen gods. (ANI)