Maghotsava greetings to all. It is the season of love and fellowship and the time to renew our pledge to lead a life with humility, honesty and compassion as we celebrate the great occasion when the doors of a prayer hall were thrown open to all, irrespective of caste, creed, gender and religion; a meeting place where everyone had the freedom to pray together in one voice to One True Eternal Being.
For the past few years the Maghotsava festivities have been dampened by the seclusion imposed upon us due to the pandemic. This year is no exception. The unusual circumstances may have robbed us of the happiness of celebrating the great occasion together, in the usual way. But it has not been able to take away the festive spirit. Aided ably by the modern technology of digital communication, we are able to attend to the prayer meetings and sessions of devotional music and also to interact through the on-line platforms. Admitted that this is not a just alternative. But at least it enables us to keep in touch and exchange our ideas. Something is always better than nothing.
The atmosphere changes with time. Gone are the days when the Samaj premises exceeded their maximum capacity with people happy to share whatever space was available, including the stairs leading up to the galleries. On Eleventh day of the Bengali month of Magh, which generally coincided with the 25th of January, and sometimes with 26th January, the elders in all our families woke up in the wee hours of the morning to get ready to go to the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj prayer hall where the Baitalik would start very early. It started with the ‘kirtan’, the devotional songs sang in groups, followed by song offerings in solo. Shri Nirmal Chandra Baral would sit at the organ, singing his freshly composed devotional song. He composed a new song every year especially for the Maghotsava. The prayers started earlier too and everyone participated in the first song “Jago Purabashi’ as well as the last one – ‘Padoprante Rakho Seboke’. The entire hall reverberated with the sonorous songs sang in one voice. The Maghotsava in those days meant so much with month-long preparations and merry sessions of rehearsals for the choir that were enjoyed by elders and youngsters alike. The songs were offerings of devotion and our hearts soared higher above our humdrum existence and over brimmed with love and fellow feeling. There were ‘Nagar sankirtans’ on the eve of eleventh Magh and the choir walked in a procession all the way from Brahmo Balika Shikshalaya to the samaj singing and playing the ‘khol’ and it ended when many more joined and sang in great ecstasy as they went around the dias. The hall was redecorated with wreaths and bouquets of flowers and chains of leaves and marigold during the night after the prayers were over.
The times have changed and the pandemic has added a new dimension to the Maghotsava. We earnestly hope that we will overcome our trials in times and the old orders will be restored, perhaps in a new form. Till then let us keep our memories and the festival spirit alive. Let us also hope that through the social media we may be able to reach to more people, especially those who are not able to attend the prayers in person due to some constraint.
In this issue the article on Brahmananda Keshab Chandra Sen is concluded. He passed away in the month of January. The article on Education Reforms in India Post Independence is continued. In this issue we pay tribute to Shri Ishan Chandra Chattopadhyay of Nimta, who passed away on January 1963. He was an ardent member of the Brahmo Samaj and a philanthropist.