INDIACSR News Network
DHENKANAL: (Odisha): At a time when Bhagabata Tungis, the community institutions of moral and religious teaching which enriches individual and social life, are struggling to keep alive their identity due to the onslaught of modernization, GMR Varalakashmi Foundation (GMRVF), the non-profit CSR arm of GMR Group, has come forward to renovate and revive these institutions in Mangalpur Panchayat of Dhenkanal district. The objective of the foundation is to revive and restore the local culture and heritage and recreate a congenial socio-spiritual atmosphere in the area.
GMRVF has initiated steps for revival of Bhagabat Tungies in GMR Kamalanga Energy Limited (GKEL) periphery villages in Kamalanga area. The foundation has renovated and repaired a total of six bhagabata tungis in three villages and provided traditional musical instruments (dhola , khanjani , jhumka, gini, turi) to eighteen kirtan mandalis to use during devotional song sessions in bhagabata tungi and in mahima asrams.
“We are immensely grateful to the foundation for renovating the Bhagabata tungis in our area. This will help us to continue our daily chores for reading Bhagabat and conducting bhajanas in the tungis,” said Mr. Pranabandhu Behera of Kamalanga Village. He also added that it was a big help that the Foundation has also provided musical instruments to kirtan mandalies for conducting religious bhajans during the evening hours.
The bhagabata tungis are places where villagers gathered in the evening to listen to discourses from the Bhagavad. The Bhagabat; after being written in Odia Language by Atibadi Jagannath Dash, the eminent poet and a great devotee of Lord Jagannath of yester years, geared up a cultural revolution which influenced life of the Odia society in every nook and corner of the state. Almost all the villages then had a Bhagabat Tungi, suitably situated for the convenience of the village folk. Every evening a literate man used to read this sacred book aloud in the dim light of a Dipa (an earthen ware then used in every household for the purpose of light in the night by means of a cotton wick immersed in oil, namely Polang oil) and the villagers, mostly agro based class, were sitting around him to listen for their enlightenment (not for entertainment).
“The tradition was sadly on the verge of being wiped out under the impact of modernization. We have taken a small step to revive this local and old culture. By rejuvenating the Bhagabata Tungis, the foundation wants to promote community brotherhood, peace and solidarity in GKEL periphery villages,” said Mr. Jayant Kumar Mohanty, Program Leader, GMR Varalakshmi Foundation.
Elderly people of the village congregate to listen the devotional songs of the members of Kirtanmandalis. Similarly utensils were provided to these Bhagabata Tungis to serve prasad to villagers in various occasions. In the village life, GMRVF would like to make the Bhagabata Tungi as the fulcrum and see community around its activity.
“The support provided by the foundation for revival of this old culture is really a praiseworthy initiative. This also sends a message to the new generation that it is not the possession of wealth, rather the person’s concern for common societal issues against personal issues which becomes a distinct characteristic of an individual,” said Mr. Satyananda Rout, a sexagenarian from Mangalpur Village.