Dr. Chandan Roy
The Legend says that the origin of the Lord Shiva’s Gajan is from Religious Folk Song. In their opinion the Dharmaraj Thakur is the another shapeless incarnation of Lord Buddha, and whose worshipping structure is almost like the Horse of Terracotta. This was first introduced in the hand of lower community like Bouri, Baghdi and Dom of Arid Region. Already this Gajan Festival has recognized internationally. Though many says the Gajan of Lord Shiva is more ancient than this. This is mainly the culture of Pagan or Pre-historic. The Lord Shiva is none but the Great Lord of Salvation (Tran). The Lord Shiva’s ancient idol was found in the Harappan Civilization.
Many opined that Dharmaraj’s Gajan is certainly revealed from Lord Shiva’s Gajan. So there must have controversy around this subject. Besides this controversy whatever remains is that the Gajan Festival is mainly the festival of agricultural villages because the fate of their agricultural production depends on these months specially the month of Chaitra. Therefore around this main focus point of their prayer to get the blessing of Lord Shiva; this village folk song becomes Gajan Festival. My motherland, Jhamotpur, such an agricultural village is historically famous. The birth place of Krishnadas Kabiraj Goswami, composer of “Srisri Chaytannyacharitamrita” is Jhamotpur village under the district of East Burdwan (P.S. – Ketugram). The living festival of this village is the Gajan of Lord Shiva of Roy’s that has been going to be completed 351 years. As a member of the coming generation of this family, personally, I am not less proud. This joy I would like to share with my readers. The first Gajan of Lord Shiva of Roy’s was started in this village, Jhamatpur in 1668 (Bengali year 1078). The witness of one thrilling history is the worshipping (Puja) of Roy family. On that period one of my Forefathers in time of offering prayer to God on the bank of the Ganga at Uddharanpur found a medium size overturned silver box in the floating hyacinth or algae like things and opening its lid found one little Shivalinga.He brought it wrapping with his scrubber and begun the worshipping setting up in a mud house on the land of Temple of this Roy family and from that year the historical Gajan Festival begun. At present the temple is structured with bricks. The adoration goes on for 8 days. If the month of Chaitra falls on 30 days, on 25th day the villagers become worshipper and on 27th day the Gajan of Lord Shiva observes. Alternatively, if the month falls on 31 days, the said festival observes on 28th day. As on that auspicious day all villagers spend the sleepless night, this day is called “Jagaran”. The next day (28th or 29th day of Chaitra) is observed as “Jalsannyasa” or “Swing Festival of Lord Shiva”. On that day all worshippers with festive mood walk on bare foot to reach the bank of the Ganga at Uddharanpur, 8 km away, to bathe the effigies of Lord Shiva and Baneswar. Setting the effigies on wooden swing and pulling on head the swing festival starts. Every year thousands of people steps on in this Jalsannyasa. People from surrounding villages step in this festival. Reachig at the bank of Uddharanpur every worshipper dips into the water of the Ganga taking the Linga on their head. About 1688 or 1690 in one of such Jalsannyasa in time of dipping into the water of the Ganga from the head of a certain villager the Linga dropped into the water and after the tiresome searching the Linga could not find out. With a lump of depression the villagers returned home. Somehow the Puja ended that year ritually. After few days from this incident one certain member of this Roy family came to know from dream that digging the heap of garbage at the southern farm the Linga would recover. The digging work of the heap begun. Almost every villager took part in this digging with spade in their hands. After 12 feet dept someone’s spade knocked at some hard stone and smoothly sliding away the mud everybody noticed the large Linga of Lord Shiva. Then that large Linga was set up in the Shiva Temple. One certain contemporary member of the Roy family feeling it impossible to bear the large Linga from Jhamotpur to Uddharanpur bought one little Linga from Kalighat and worshipped. Since then the former custom of bathe of the Lord Shiva and Baneswar went on as before. Wrapping up the little Linga in a scrubber people dip into the water in fear of falling into the water again. Chronically the relevance of Roy Family’s “Gajan of Lord Shiva” had been grown up. On the night of Gajan, the group of “Bolan” comes from adjoining villages of Jhamatpur, like Anantapur, kakgram, keungudi, Salar, Tenya, Baharan, Goalpara, and Dhakhinkhanda and different places. The Bolan song is very popular as a folk song. Generally people from different classes like Hari, Bagdi, Dome, Cobbler, Bouri and Sadgope would serve this Bolan song. Every Bolan group consist of about 30 – 35 artists. They have different type of musical instruments like Drum,Tabla,Kansi, Flute, and clapping besides other instruments.
In the beginning of March (Phalgun) 3 – 4 representatives of every Bolan Group go to the composer to compose the Lyrical drama and goes on regular rehearsal. The worshippers take the bathe into the “Joydhara” pond at night at 1am and overwhelms with “Bhakta dance” taking the cane stick in hand. In this very moment the “Baneswar” is brought out of the temple. After this “Bhakta dance” there remains “Siddhi Dance (Hemp Dance)” with hemp tree (Siddhi) in hand. Before the beginning of Dance they put the mangoe on the head of Lord Shiva plucking mangoes from the mangoe tree. They also put the bhung on the head of Lord Shiva. In time of hemp dance the worshippers enchant one type of special song offering to Lord Shiva before the innumerable witness. This Dance goes on for one hour. After the end of “Hemp Dance”, there commence “Porobolan” or “Burning Ghat Dance”, taking one dried skull on head dance towards the burning ghat. This is also called “Skull Dance” or “Phul Dance”(Here ‘Phul’ means skull of a dead person). Few worshippers being drawn different faces of Gods and Goddesses on their own face by Potterer like Shiva or Kali sing “Porbolan” song having placed the dried skull on their head. They are named as “Swamshan”, consisting 10 – 12 artists. Among these 2 persons assume a disguise of dog or fox and the rest take the dead man’s skull at the middle of their wig head to assume “Swamshan”. They play scrambling with this dead man’s skull among them along with songs and dance. A large crowd enjoys this “Porobolan” with glee. The content of this “Porobolan” is generally burning ghat oriented that is song of a dead person like Harishchandra, Shoibya, Shaktishell of Lakshmana etc. In time of singing song having rhythm of four beat the drum with the rime. This “Porobolan” generally takes time to end almost at morning. In the morning some little boys wearing white banian and shorts, wrapping up scarf or scrubber sing one type of special songs of Lord Shiva with the jingling sound of drum which is popularized as “Chhal Bolan” or “Chhoual Bolan”. Few common interested people enter in this group to perform. After this, different “Swamshan” group exhibit “PhulKhela” or “Mathakhela”. But everybody’s eye is fixed on like bird to Gandhi Bayen group. Because there is a ritual custom to bring out the “Shiva’s Swing” after the performance of Gandhi Bayen Group. Afterwards the “Swing” or “Jalswannasha” is forwarded on road with a huge crowd of thousands people. To control the large crowd huge police force is deployed from Ketugram Police Station. They all walk on foot about 8 km along with the God to take bathe and return with the same rhythm. The next day is “Nilpuja”. At night of “NIlpuja” there is performed “Katakhela” by the worshippers. Often many assume a disguise. Also the Bolan song is performed on stage. Worshippers jump at fire and thorn. The overturned crowd attends to see the performance. The next day is Charak. The next day of Charak i.e. the first day of Boishakha all the worshippers attend at lunch being taken bath and wearing new dress to Roy House. Almost all villagers take part in it.
Among the forefathers of Roy Family Late Shri Ishwar Chandra Roy, Late Shri Jagadurlav Roy, Latge Shri Pratap Roy, Late Shri Bholanath
Roy, Late Shri Haradhan Roy (My Grandfather) were especially important. But from the period of Late Shri Haradhan Roy the Gajan of Roy Family took a special turn.
Now during few years my Grand Uncle Shri Profullo Kumar Roy, my father Shri Subhas Chandra Roy, my Middle Uncle Shri Udoychand Roy and my Younger Uncle Shri Sanjeev Kumar Roy and the other members of the Family has been fathering this Gajan of Lord Shiva.