The entire country is celebrating the 122nd birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. During his lifetime, Netaji had touched several lives in different ways, and these “connections”, small or big, continue to be celebrated even now. The day holds special significance in West Bengal’s East Burdwan district. In Purbasthali of Kalna subdivision of the district, the Parulia area has been observing this day in its own unique way for several decades now, in memory of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s visit to the area in 1931.
It was a time when the entire country had waged a war against the British rule and the freedom struggle was at its peak. The ‘Quit India’ slogan had reached Purbasthali too. Several men and women from the area took part in the struggle for Independence. Prominent names among them were Suresh Roy, Gopen Kundu and Nripen Bhattacharya. To encourage their efforts and boost their morale, Netaji visit them in 1931. His fiery anti-British speech at Purbasthali’s Shyamsundartala is remembered to this date by the locals.
Prior to delivering his speech, Netaji had spent some time resting at Suresh Roy’s house. According to Tapan Roy and Gautam Roy, Suresh Roy’s sons, he was overwhelmed by the hospitality extended to him by the family.
The Roys have lovingly conserved the chair Netaji sat on while in the house. At any time of year, the brown chair made of ‘Shaal’ wood can be seen adorning a garlanded photograph of the much reverred freedom fighter.
Students from schools in the area often make a trip to the house to take a look at the special chair. Also among the regular visitors are Netaji’s followers and admirers who come to hear about things he had said during his trip to the remote town.
Accepting the hospitality offered to him by the family during his 1931 visit, Netaji had snacked of a cup of tea and ‘singara’ (samosa). In his memory, the Roy household in Purbasthali organises a function every 23 January when they garland the photograph of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, hoist the Tricolour and treat the attendees to tea and samosa. The ritual has been continuing since before Independence, and it has been no exception till date. Distribution of clothes among the needy and health check-ups also form part of the annual celebration of Netaji birth anniversary.
(This report originally appeared in Bangali in Dainik Statesman)