Raas Mela or the Raas fair is a grand celebration dedicated to the deity Madan Mohan of Cooch Behar. In fact, its grandness makes it a festival and is basically observed during the month of November according to English calendar and in the month of Kartik as per Bengali calendar. It is one of the most popular festivals of Cooch Behar which attracts people from in and around the district and also from the neighboring state of Assam. It is conducted on the Parade Ground by the local municipal corporation and holds a special significance for the people of Cooch Behar.
History of Raas Mela
The Madan Mohan temple was built by Maharaja Bripendra Narayan of Cooch Behar during the 18th century and he is also the pioneer of Raas Mela. Raas Mela was initially held at Vetaguri by the kings and subsequently on the temple premises beside Bairagi Dighi. Presently, the venue has been shifted to the Parade Ground to accommodate more people. The idol of Madan Mohan is a unique one made from 8 metallic compounds and the original one was stolen in 1994. However, the shrine was not kept vacant for long and there was another idol of the same stature.
Madan Mohan is another name for Lord Krishna and was worshipped as the family deity by the Koch Kings. In keeping with the tradition the same idol is worshipped by the followers now. The only difference between the idol at Nabadwip another famous religious place of Hindus and the one in Cooch Behar is that here Madan Mohan is worshipped without his consort Sri Radha. The main attraction of the fair is the Raas Chakra standing tall in the center of the fair. The Raas Chakra is made out of bamboo or posts and paper into a semi-cylindrical structure revolving around a pivot. It is found on the temple premises and signifies secularism in the state of West Bengal. The Raas Chakra is decorated by a Muslim family since ages and has floral patterns on paper and pictures of Lord Madan Mohan all over. It is 30 feet tall and is considered to be a source of bliss by the devotees.
How to reach Cooch Behar Raas Mela
The Mela continues for 18 days and is inaugurated by the District Magistrate of Cooch Behar. You can arrive at the Raas Mela by air, road or rail. Reach at Cooch Behar station and take a rickshaw to arrive at the Parade Ground. Alternatively, you can take the National Highway to reach Cooch Behar by your own vehicle. Flight travelers will arrive at the Cooch Behar airport or Bagdogra airport and from there hire rickshaws and taxis to reach the Parade Ground. The North Bengal State Transport Corporation also provides special buses from all parts of the district upto 11 pm to arrive at the fair ground.
Accomodation in Cooch Behar
Cooch Behar is dotted with hotels of all budgets and you can put up at anyone. There are some guest houses near the ground like Prabas, Chilarai Abasan and Pantha Niwas maintained by the municipality. If you wish to stay at hotels advance booking is recommended.
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Amartya Bag