Trinath Puja, Trinath Mela

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This article is an extract from

THE TRIBES and CASTES of BENGAL.
By H.H. RISLEY,
INDIAN CIVIL SERVICE, OFFICIER D'ACADÉMIE FRANÇAISE.

Ethnographic Glossary.

CALCUTTA:
Printed at the Bengal Secretariat Press.
1891. .

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Trinath Puja, Trinath Mela

This fantastic worship of modern date has spread with wonderful rapidity among the fisher and agricultural population of Eastern Bengal, and seems to have been intended to incorporate the three deities, or triad, of the Hindus with the Triune God of the Christians. In Dacca the founder of the sect is said to have been Ananda Chunder Das, a constable in the municipal police, but as the peculiar ritual of the worshippers has gained followers in Rajshahi, Pubna, Farridpur, and all the eastern districts, it is likely that some one of more influence and education originated it.

The following account is abstracted from a lithographed Bengali pamphlet on the doctrines of this new-fangled worship:�

In the beginning Hari revealed himself as Gaur Rupa, afterwards as Brahma Vishnu, and Siv, but on account of the grievous sins of the world he has appeared in these last days as Trinath, pointing out a new road to salvation. The priesthood had waxed proud, and as wealth accumulated, divine worship became a prerogative of the rich, an impossibility for the poor.

The intention of the modern revelation was to limit the expense of worship, and three paisa, a sum within the reach of all, was prescribed as the fitting pecuniary donation. Each worshipper is therefore instructed to buy one paisa worth of Indian hemp, one of betle-nut, and one of mustard oil before entering the meeting house, and on his arrival to pour the oil into a large lamp in the middle of the room, with a wick made of three cotton threads twisted to form one, and to deposit the other articles in a tray common to all.

Before the beginning of the service all join in shouting "Trinath! Ananda, Hari! Hari! Bala!" The congregation then squatting around the lamp chew betle, smoke Ganjha, and listen to prayers, and to the Panchali, or metrical confession of faith, as long as the lamp burns; but as soon as the light flickers, the company dispersess.

The Panchali, or poetical narrative, consists of hymns in praise of Trinath, and of verses exhorting to faith in the new revelation, and to disbelief in the efficacy of all other creeds. The meetings, always held after sundown, but on no fixed day, may be convened by any one desirous of fulfilling a vow, of averting a threatening calamity, or of returning thanks for the mercies and blessings of the past. Women are rarely present at the meetings, consequently no immorality is practised, but men belonging to all castes associate together at them.

Such is the impious worship that is attracting crowds of uneducated and credulous Chandals, Kaibarttas, and Tiyars throughout Eastern Bengal. The influence of the Guru and Purohit is still powerful, but they can only discourage a worship which brings them no honour or reward. It is difficult to account for the rise of such a creed unless we believe that the Brahmanical hold on the people is relaxing, and that the masses blindly accept any worship which recognises the equality and brotherhood of all classes of mankind.

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