Kharchi Puja, a prominent festival celebrated in Tripura, holds deep cultural and religious significance for the people of this northeastern state in India. This week-long extravaganza, observed in the month of July, showcases the rich heritage and devotion of the Tripuri community.
The festival revolves around the worship of fourteen deities who are considered the protectors of the land. The term “Kharchi” refers to the cleansing ritual performed during the festival, aimed at purifying and rejuvenating the deities. The word “Puja” signifies the act of worship and reverence offered to the divine.
Preparations for Kharchi Puja begin well in advance. The city of Agartala, the capital of Tripura, comes alive with vibrant decorations, colorful lights, and intricately designed pandals (temporary structures) erected at various locations. Skilled artisans and craftsmen meticulously create exquisite idols of the deities, showcasing their artistic prowess.
The main attraction of the festival is the Kharchi Puja chariot, which is an elaborately decorated structure adorned with flowers, leaves, and traditional motifs. The chariot serves as the centerpiece of the celebrations and carries the idols of the deities during the grand procession.
On the day of the festival, devotees gather at the Kharchi Pahar, a sacred hill located on the outskirts of Agartala. The hill is believed to be the abode of the deities, and it is here that the rituals and ceremonies take place. The idols are placed on the chariot, and a group of devotees, known as “Sebayats,” pull the chariot with utmost devotion and reverence.
The procession, accompanied by the beats of traditional musical instruments like dhak (drums), khartaal (cymbals), and flute, traverses through the city, covering significant locations. Devotees, dressed in traditional attire, join the procession, offering prayers and seeking blessings from the deities.
Kharchi Puja is not just a religious event but also a celebration of Tripura’s rich cultural heritage. Traditional dance forms like Garia, Lebang, Hozagiri, and Wangala add an aura of grandeur and charm to the festivities. Skilled performers showcase their talent, mesmerizing the audience with their graceful movements and rhythmic beats.
The festival also provides a platform for local artisans and entrepreneurs to display their craftsmanship and products. Colorful stalls offer a wide array of traditional handicrafts, handloom textiles, jewelry, and local delicacies. Visitors can indulge in mouth-watering dishes like chakhwi (a spicy chicken dish), berma (fermented bamboo shoot), and chikhvi (sticky rice with coconut), savoring the authentic flavors of Tripura.
Kharchi Puja not only serves as a religious and cultural event but also boosts tourism in the region. Visitors from different parts of the country and abroad flock to Tripura to witness and experience the grandeur of this unique festival. The state government, along with various cultural and religious organizations, actively promotes and organizes the festival, ensuring its smooth execution and creating a safe and enjoyable environment for all.
For the people of Tripura, Kharchi Puja is a time of devotion, joy, and celebration. It strengthens the social fabric, fosters a sense of unity and belonging, and revives the pride in their cultural heritage. The festival serves as a reminder of the deep-rooted traditions and spiritual values that have been passed down through generations, making it an integral part of Tripura’s identity.