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15 July, 2016 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 15 July, 2016 04:10:18 PM
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Discovering Jhenaidah Part- 4

Shrine of Gazi, Kalu and Champabati

By Bipul K Debnath
Shrine of Gazi, Kalu and Champabati

The tale of Gazi, Kalu and Champabati is a popular myth in the southern part of the country_ especially in Bara Bazar of Jhenaidah_ that is well-known for the characters’ mystic traits, secular appeal and religious harmony.
The notable dargah (shrine) of Gazi, Kalu and Champabati is located at Badurgacha village of Bara Bazar. Badurgacha is a verdurous place where birds tweet around all day. Fresh air and the smell of its soil provide any traveller with a celestial touch. The aged banyan tree at the spot is always ready to serve visitors with its comfortable shade at day time. There is a dighi (pond) at the northern side. The historical landmark gets pretty crowded with devotees and theological discourses held every year, participated by notable religious thinkers. People from far away used to visit the shrine, hoping to get cured from incurable diseases. Needless to say, the place is a sacred one among the locals.
Gazi, commonly known as Gazi Zinda Pir or Barakhan Gazi, emerged in 17th century puthi literature and is referred to in ‘Maimansingha Gitika’, and also in ‘Raimangal’ (1684) written by Krishnaram Das.
There are numerous versions of the tale of the legendary Gazi. According to ‘Raimangal’,  Gazi, a handsome figure, was the son of a wealthy zamindar, but he left his father’s palace at an early age and travelled to the Sundarban forests to become a fakir. He had a confrontation with Dakshin Ray, who was the most powerful spiritual figure of that area. It is said that the Almighty himself came down to mediate between the two, and their followers led a life of amity and understanding.
The most popular tale is that of ‘Gazi Kalu O Champabati Kanya-r-Puthy’. The story goes like this: There was a king named Shah Sekandar Ali at Biratnagar, far away from Bangla, who had two sons, Jadusujon and Gazi, and also an adopted boy named Kalu, whom the king had found in the river. Jadusujon married the only daughter of the king of Janga and left his father. So, the king looked upon his younger son as the successor to the throne. But Gazi disagreed with his father’s decision, as he was indifferent towards the mundane things of life since his childhood. This made Sekandar angry and he tried his best to kill Gazi, but in vain.
Finding human habitation uncongenial and meaningless, Gazi left home in search of the Creator. Kalu followed his brother out of town. After a long night’s journey, the two arrived at a deserted place leaving behind the city. They settled there for seven years. Then they left the place again, and at length, reached the palace of a hostile ruler named Sridhar, who chased them out of his kingdom. At that instance, Kalu cursed the king, and the palace caught fire. King Sridhar then begged for pardon, and accepted Gazi.
Later, Gazi and Kalu went to Brahmannagar (now it includes Jhenaidah, Kotchadpur, Bara Bazar and Benapole). Champabati, a woman of exquisite beauty, was the only daughter of King Mukut Ray. Gazi exchanged glances with her as she was collecting water from a pond, and they fell in love. Champabati told her mother everything and the spirit of her love for Gazi is expressed in these words (from Raimangal):

Bidhir jadi hai kapale tomar
taha ke khandite pare
shakti achhe kar
(If it is so destined,
no power can undo it)
Gazi also narrated his love for Champabati to Kalu and through him, sent a proposal of marriage. But the king got very angry and promptly imprisoned Kalu. Obviously, Gazi was not pleased on hearing this. Furious, he marched with his disciples towards Brahmannagar and there was a great battle between the two sides. Gazi succeeded in defeating the king. Finally, the king gave his daughter to him and they lived at Chapainagar (present Badurgacha) happily ever after. Legend has it Gazi had the power of miracles and many incurable diseases were cured by his magic touch.  
 The gravesite where all three of them lie can be a popular tourist spot. The district administration renovated the tombstones in 1991 and built a small cottage for devotees.
“It is a sad matter for us that the new generation knows little about this legendary and historic place, due to lack of proper publicity,” a local resident said. “The authorities should take proper care of the historic sites of the area and establish facilities for tourists,” he added.
Every year, the 12th of Falgun in the Bangla calendar is celebrated at the dargah with much enthusiasm. The place is 28 kilometres from Jhenaidah and buses are available to Bara Bazar. From there, Badurgacha can be reached by three-wheelers as it is only one kilometre away.  

Reference: ‘The Sundarbans: Folk Deities, Monsters and Mortals’ by Sutapa Chatterjee Sarkar.

TO BE CONTINUED

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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