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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Days of Maharani Sunity Devi at Cooch behar

Crowned Maharani
Rare picture of Maharani
First she came to Cooch behar in 1878,for her marriage ceremony with king Nripendra Narayan of cooch behar.Her marriage was quite an episode.A burning much talked issue throughout then Bengal
Mostly because of the bride and groom were from different religion, she was Bramho and he was a Hindu.Remember that was 1878.
When the rays of modern education in India only began                            
  to illuminate some selected portions of society,the masses were deeply plunged in to the sea of prejudices,illiteracy,customs.That needed herculean efforts to loose the Gordian knot.Governor,Lieutenant Governor of Bengal, commissioners,other British officials,Raj Durbar officials,pundits,priests,reverends,dewan last but not the least the rajmatas, committed to save Hindu marriage rituals,with the help of Dewan Cullika Dasdutt.They succeeded to postpone the first auspicious hour in the evening settled for the marriage,lights off,concert silenced,masses gathered hushed.But the defiant succumb to the pressure from  Governor of Bengal,and the marriage finally held at the second auspicious  hour at 3a.m. That's another story, may be discussed in next opportunity.Her Royal Highness being an educated enlightened lady,was well versed about the histories and myths of her husbands ancient warrior race,and his kingdom.

Maharani left Cooch behar shortly after her marriage,to Calcutta. Returned to live at cooch behar, only after the birth of her third issue,the second son Jitendra.On arriving at cooch behar for the second time,she was greatly delighted to find a new beautiful church(the Bramho  Mandir) for the new dispensation,and a girls school(Sunity academy) named after her. Her marriage was held at the old palace,by then the new palace was complete for living. This new palace is situated,in between,the town in east,river Torsa in west, 'Sagar Dighi'(great pond) in south, dug during the reign of her great grand father-in-law king Harendra Narayan,and north in far distance the great Himalaya standing like a fort.In winter months through palace windows she could easily see the clear white snowy tip of the peaks. She was amazed to find the the abundance of flowers and fireflies in the palace garden and largely at cooch behar (alas! where they are now)?  In the dark nights, it seemed to her, thousands of twinkling stars  had descended to the palace region in the shape of fire flies.The more see saw of cooch behar, the more she loved it. Rainy season of cooch behar with brimful rivers,flooded streets reminded her the splendid 'Venice' to compare with. Her old nurse Mrs Elridge often used to say "In my all travels, I have never experienced such thunderstorms."
Nevertheless her days were much occupied.After morning tea,her children(Rajey, Girlie and Jit) used to brought  her flowers from palace garden,and she used to made sketches of them.She took it as pride and pleasure of her life.After bath wearing a sacred silk sari,arranged the prayer room with masses of rose,jasmine and bright hued flowers from garden. Marvelous effect of them against the back drop of white marble floor and the altar,was much loved to her. Completing prayer, she was used to prepare fruits and sweets for her husband, children and others.She often prepared enough vegetables,for at least fifty peoples.
Imagine a Maharani cutting vegetables! Yes,she did.She was used to sit in floor surrounded by number of different sizes brass bowls,for washing vegetables,maids constantly changing water. She always cut enough vegetables to fill several large plates. The royal kitchen usually had eighteen curries for each meal.
Sometimes the Maharaja used to invade the kitchen when Maharani was cutting vegetables;and watching closely sitting before her and cautioning occasionally " Take care Sunity,you will cut yourself"(How homely they were?),as if she was a little girl didn't know how to peel off a potato? In this moments,with much amusement to her relations-in law,officer's wives,now and again she used to get up and play tableaux with them.Fine slicing of betel nuts and preparing of betel leaf(Pan) stuffed with at least six types of spices and eventually pinning them with clove was not beyond her skill.Actually she was fond of doing that. Often she made sweets for her husband and children,as the were lovers of sweet meats.Her dear mother trained her to prepare pickles of mangoes and potatoes and she practiced them in palace with great skill. She was fond of painting,and often spent hours in ornamenting the mantle pieces and glass panes of doors.
Her children was very much in love with the miniature garden she made in the palace.There was a tank filled with clear water.One day her second son Jitendra,wanted to have a bath there.Despite much dissuasion from her mother, the unstoppable little prince insisted his own way.So her mom the queen undressed him and put him into the water.Though the little boy felt chill, but the ego of a prince and the future king.made him pretended he was quite warm? The cute little face above water, curly head surrounded by flowers produced an immaculate beautiful picture, giving enough satisfaction to the motherhood of the queen........... wait for next post please.