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THE BANDOPADHYAYA FAMILY OF DEEGHALKANDI

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

11. Voicing for Equality

 

It was Ekadashi. ‘To fast or not to fast’ had become the topic of discussion. The food had already been cooked and Sri Sri Thakur didn’t have the heart to disappoint the women of the household. But he was not someone who would give up so easily. He listened patiently to all the arguments put in favour of giving up fasting and accepting the food. In the end Sri Sri Thakur said, “Okay. I will listen to you but on one condition. If all of you can lift me and make me sit on that bed, then I will eat the food cooked by you.” All the ladies got together and tried but failed. In that tussle one of the ladies took a Sandesh and put it in Sri Sri Thakur’s mouth. Thakur then obliged to their demands and stopped acting difficult. He got up, ate the sandesh and then sat down to enjoy the bhog prepared, thus breaking his Ekadashi fast.


The ladies of the family had gifted Thakur a shantipuri dhoti. Thakur wore the dhoti and was walking around with a bounce in his gait with the family members surrounding him on all sides. Thakur jokingly pushed one of them and said, “Please give me the way. How will I go with all of you around me?” He walked to the dining area and as he sat down to have food he, blurted out, “All the women and even small girls work so hard to cook for all of us but I notice that the men sit down to eat first. So, not much is left for the women of the household. Today, we will change the sequence. Let all the ladies sit down first to have prasad with me. The men can have prasad later”.


As soon as they heard Thakur’s wish, all the arrangements were made accordingly. Sri Sri Thakur sat down in the middle with the girls and ladies on either side. Bhuvan Brahmachari was called to serve. Everyone started enjoying the prasad. Thakur was supervising and instructing during this feast, “Give her some more.”

“No Thakur. Please listen to us,” the ladies begged. “The men haven’t had their food. We cannot finish everything here. We need to leave some food for them.” Thakur replied, “They eat every day. Today, at least for one day, you will get to eat till you’re full. So, eat well.” The entire family stood agape, watching this rare event. They joined in and requested, “Thakur! What sin have we committed? Why did you spare us of this joy? Thakur smiled and replied, “Today I had fun with them. Tomorrow, it will be your turn.”


After everyone had eaten, one of the daughters-in-laws came near Sri Sri Thakur and asked softly, “Thakur! How was the food?” With a wry smile on his lips Thakur replied, “The food was good but maybe there was something wrong with my taste buds. Everything felt tasteless.” The questioner looked straight at him and quipped, “We cooked with so much care and it was not up to mark for our dear prince.” Listening to her, Thakur laughed out loud and replied, “If I don’t become the prince, then how will you all be called queen mothers?”


In the afternoon, Thakur came out and sat lazily in his rocking chair. The women of the family sat around him and requested him with folded hands, “Thakur! Today you are only ours. We will perform the evening aarti and puja.” Thakur nodded yes. Some disciples and devotes started arriving. Discussions, questions and answers continued till the sun went down. As evening approached, everyone came out to the hall carrying the incense sticks, diyas, chamara and all paraphelnia required for aarti. Everyone sang the aarti kirtan and vandana together in one voice. The men of the household came out and joined them in offering their prayers. Krishna and Balaram were dressed as ‘Nitai’ and ‘Gauranga’ and Thakur was spellbound with the way they danced.

Yogamaya, the youngest daughter of the family was not able to nurture any child for a long time. She had given birth to six children but none of them survived. She was pregnant during the time Thakur had arrived in Deeghalkandi. After a couple of days during his stay, she gave birth to a daughter. She hoped that this child would definitely have a long life as she was born during Sri Sri Thakur’s stay. The room where she delivered the baby was in one corner of the house. One day as Thakur was passing by that room, he peeped in and asked, “Is it a boy or girl?” Yoyamaya replied. “A girl, Thakur.” At that Thakur said, “Show her to me.” Overjoyed, Yogamaya lifted the child up for Thakur to have a look.


…to be continued

Inspired by Krushnapriya Mohanty’s essay, “Deeghalkandi Parivar.”




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