Matuas of Orakandi ready to welome Modi

Staff Correspondent

24 March, 2021 12:00 AM printer

The people of Matua society, a scheduled caste of Hindu community at Orakandi in Gopalganj, are all set to welcome Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 27 when he will visit the sacred place for the believers of the sect.

The Indian premier is scheduled to offer prayers at Matua Temple there on the second day of his state visit to Bangladesh following his visit to Joshoreshwari Temple in Satkhira’s Shyamnagar and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s mausoleum in Tungipara of Gopalganj.

Narendra Modi will pay tribute to Harichand Thakur (1812–1878), the founder of the Matua community, and his son Guruchand Thakur (1847–1937), an inspirational leader who consolidated the Matua movement.

Orakandi is the holiest place for the five crore people of the sect who live in Bangladesh and India as it is the birth place of these two key figures of Matua community.

The Indian Prime Minister would be the first of high-profile leader to visit the sacred Matua temple.

Subrato Thakur Hiltu, chairman of Kashiani Upazila Parishad in Gopalganj, and also a member of Thakur Family, said, “All the family members along with the followers of Harichand Thakur are very happy and excited about the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Orakandi.”

“Narendra Modi would speak to Thakur family members and the Matua community representatives,” he added.

Officials of Bangladesh government and Indian Embassy have visited the area. All necessary preparations and renovation work of the temple and construction of roads and other establishments in its surrounding area are underway.

The government is making four helipads, 500 metres of HBB roads inside Thakur Bari and a rest house.

Besides, the government authorities have also been repairing an eight-kilometre road from Tilchor of Dhaka-Khulna Highway to Thakur bari and        

a 600-metre road from Rahut to Thakurbari entrance.

The people of Matua community have expressed satisfaction for the development work on the occasion of the Indian PM’s visit.

Building upon an older Vaishnava devotional stream, the downtrodden Matua community has a rich history of struggle for the social advancement of the lower castes.

Rebelling against social marginalisation and untouchability of upper caste Brahmins in the 19th century East Bengal, the Matua community triggered a massive mobilisation which was initiated by Harichand Thakur and spread by Guruchand Thakur.

During the separation of the Subcontinent in 1947, a large portion of Matuas migrated to West Bengal.

Later, the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971 took a heavy toll on this community as many Matuas had left the country at that time and resettled in India’s West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, the Andaman Islands, Nicobar Islands, the Dandakaranya, Maharashtra, and Delhi.

They have established a strong religious base centring Thakurnagar in North 24 Parganas.

Gradually the Matua community emerged as a political stronghold, deeply intertwined with refugee politics, borderland issues, religion and caste.

In the 21st century, the Matua community represents a key element in electoral politics. With over 15 million voters, they would be a crucial factor in the upcoming West Bengal Assembly Elections.

Some of the leading Indian newspapers have reported that the Indian Prime Minister will visit the Matua sacred place in Bangladesh to woo the Matua electorates in favour of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).