Durga Puja may be over for all of us now, but things are different for the residents of Khadimpur village in Kamlabari-2 gram panchayat, 12 km away from Raiganj town in North Dinajpur district. The villagers here are still in a festive mood. As every year, Khadimpur is engrossed in observing the traditional Balaichandi Durga Puja that started on the night of Vijaya Dashami.

Around 7,500 members of 1,500 families living in the village began celebrating the Durga Puja with all pomp and grandeur on the day.

According to Puja organisers, the village has celebrated Balaichandi Durga Puja for the last 500 years. The Durga idol here has four hands instead of the usual 10. All the deities, including Goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati, and Lord Kartik and Ganesh are present with the Goddess Balaichandi. However, the demon king Mahisasur and his buffalo are not worshipped here.

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Numerous visitors even from outside the district visit the Puja pandals in Khadimpur in huge numbers every year.

“The Balaichandi Puja is being observed in our village since the past 500 years for the well-being of the village. According to rituals, the Puja starts on the night of Dashami and continues for the next five days. All wear new clothes during the Puja and eat vegetarian food in their houses till the Puja is over. An animal sacrifice is also a part of the Puja observed here,” the Secretary of the Khadimpur Balaichandi Puja Committee, Sreekanta Barman, said.

The priest of the Puja committee, Basudev Chakraborty, said, “Our forefathers used to worship Ma Blaichandi here and the Puja is observed here even after 500 years of its commencement.”

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“Once upon a time, on the day of Dashami during the regular Durga Puja, our crops got damaged due to drought which led to the death of several villagers due to starvation. Since then, on the day of Dashami, villagers here started the Balaichandi Puja. As predecessors, we will have to keep the tradition going. People from nearby villages and from outside the district turn up here to witness our Puja. We will be organizing different cultural programmes with participation of students of our village for the next five days. Villagers enjoy it with great enthusiasm,” added Mr Chakraborty.