Newly married Monali and Dipen came to Pandu Ghat in Guwahati after an early morning walk to see the ‘Pitri-Tarpan’ rituals which take place on ‘Mahalaya’ day on the bank of the mighty Brahmaputra.
The occasion marks the end of ‘Pretapakhya’ and the beginning of ‘Devipakhya’ or the fortnight when Bengali Hindus celebrate Durga Puja.
But what was just a stroll for Dipen Mandal and his wife amid blooming kittens around the bank turned out to be a remarkable experience for the couple.
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“We were observing the ‘Pitri Tarpan’ mass, a bit far from the very site where people perform rituals for their ancestors. Suddenly I noticed a hustle and bustle of people pointing to a spot in the water some distance from the shore,” Dipen said.
“And an old man – a priest – is trying to pull someone out of the water, but couldn’t do it. Without another thought, I rushed and jumped into the water to help the priest and catch the drowning man,” Dipen added as he breathed a sigh of relief after saving the life of 30-year-old Debaditya Purkayastha.
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Pandu Ghat saw huge crowds visiting the river bank on Mahalaya Day on Wednesday, just like that day in pre-Covid19 years.
Mahalaya announces the start of Durgotsav 2021 among Bengali Hindus.
But for Rina Purkayastha, the return of her son, who drowned while performing the “Pitri-tarpan” rituals, has another meaning.
Dipen and former family priest Hiralal Bhattacharjee came across as a savior while others were just stuck with a sudden shock of seeing a drowning man but couldn’t rush to save him.
“As I got to the water, the place was not that deep. Suddenly the mud slipped on my feet and I found that the water was much deeper, which I couldn’t recognize and I sank,” said Debaditya Purkayastha, after leveling off.
Interestingly, in this largest gathering of people on the Brahmaputra river bank during ‘Mahalaya’, not a single River Police patrol boat or SDRF rescue team was seen at the site, this which raised questions among many.
Four school children recently drowned in the Brahmaputra River at the same location.
But for Monali, who has just started her married life with Dipen Mandal, seems happy to see a new side to her life partner who also cares about people.
(Report by Subhamoy Bhattacharjee)