Gajon festival, held in West Bengal, India on the last day of Bengali year on the occasion of worship of Lord Shivas wedding with Parvati, also known as Neelavati, which is celebrated all over Bengal under various monikers. It is Gaajon in South Bengal, Gambhira in North Bengal and East Bengal (presently Bangladesh), Gamira in further North and simply Neel in East Bengal. The customs and rituals vary according to different ritualistic practices. Despite the presence of a Brahman priest or a Qazi, weddings essentially have less to do with rituals and are more adorned with a string of traditional customs not literally connected to religion, but from the beginning of time a sense of magic, sorcery and spirituality.
Lord Shiva is believed to be born in the month of Shraabon and his wedding is celebrated during the last three days of the month Chaitra. Now being a celebration of wedding, the groom comes from his village, with his kin and other relatives of the village. The term Gaajon, rooted deeply in the notions of a folk fest, actually reflects on this idea. (‘Gaa’ is the colloquial Bengali term for village while ‘Jon’ is a reference to general populace) Gaajon thus becomes a carnival of the groom party laced with mirth, shrieks and screams.
Gajon has usually been a carnival for the lower class and lower caste, there have been instances in kolkotta in the 19th century where the rich babus would also participate. The 19th century also witnessed processions of clowns and jesters to celebrate gajon. As its been a festival/carnival for the lower class, the educated ones attempted to give it a seal of distant approval by terming it ‘folk culture’ as a larger canon of a folk festival
What happens in it?
These are Sadhus or Sanyasis, in the occasion of worship to Lord Shiva dancing around with different parts of human dead bodies. This practice has been going on for hundreds of years and it’s a tradition still practiced bt in the interiors of West Bengal. This is a very ugly and unscientific practice and the administration or police does not bother stopping it.
Its also funny and astonishing as to where do these sanyasis get these dead bodies or human parts from?
Whether it’s the Bengali Gaajon, Gambhira or Neel; they are primal and violent. But they are charged with a sense of spontaneous humanity. Can we till date connect ourselves with that humanity which is primitive and kinetic?