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Chandi Mangal Bengali – Importance Of Mangala Poem Dedicated To Goddess Chandi

Chandi Mangal in Bengal is a religious epic poem composed in the tradition of the medieval Mangala Kavya. It is of great importance as it is meant for ceremonial chanting on religious occasions. They are also meant for propagation of the faith towards a specific deity, in this case, the Mother Goddess Chandi. The cult of Chandi in eastern parts of India, especially in Bengal is very prominent.

About Chandi Mangal Authors

The most famous of these Mangala poems were written by the eminent Bengali medieval poet, Mukundram Chakraborti, or Kobi Kankan as he is better known.

Manik Datta, of the pre-Chaitanya era, was one of the pioneers in the tradition followed by Dwija Madhava, who composed his mangala poem around 1578 – 80 AD.

Mukundrama Chakraborti showed immense talent in furthering this tradition of Chandi Mangalas and became the central figure in medieval Bengali literature due to his sensitive treatment of the subject. His gods and goddesses are almost human, they touch the heart, even as they touch the soul. Hailing from the village Damuniya, in Burdwan district of Bengal, he later took refuge in the court of Bankura Raya of Midnapore and composed his poem around 1590-91.

Other minor poets in the Bengali Mangala Kavya tradition are Balrama Kavi Kankan, Dwija Janarddana, Dwija Ramadeva, Muktarama Sena, Ramananda Yati, Jayanarayana Devanand, Dwija Harirama.

Mangala Poems In Bengal

Medieval Bengali literature (16th century AD) mostly in verse was meant for singing or reciting Kobi Kankan’s authentic written version, for example, was not found until a century after he had composed it.

It is natural, therefore, that many recensions are found and possibly some interpolations in the longer versions. Much scholarship has been devoted to the effort of authenticating the manuscripts. Later versions have ragas and talas (beats) marked for singing the padas.
The basic tale depicting the benevolence of the presiding deity, Mother Chandi, is divided primarily into two parts: first the story of Kalaketu and Phullara, and secondly, the Dhanpati – Khullana – Sripati section named “Banika Khanda” or the traders tale in Kavi Kankanas’ Mangala. Some manuscripts contain only one of the stories.

Kankana’s tale is more elaborate, being in four parts. Like the traditional Purana form, the first part is devoted to praising the various deities, starting with Ganesha Vandana (deferential salutation), and building religious fervor in the minds of the listeners.

The second relates the ‘new’ with the old. There is a complete reiteration of the Puranic tales of Sati and Goddess Parvati, the two famous consorts of Shiva. The third and fourth section deal with the two main themes of the Kalketu and Dhanpati duos.

Story of Chandi Mangal

What lifts the entire ritual to a sublime experience, and the religious overtones to that of literary excellence, is the deep concern for humanity and human problems. How even the gods suffer relationship problems, how the father-in-law of Shiva does not approve of the poverty of Shiva and how his wife Sati resents her father’s arrogance – all these reflect common household problems.

The stay of Shiva in his father-in-law’s home, the ultimate acceptance of poverty as preferable to the dependent status and the departure to Kailash, the abode of Shiva, all are lovingly told as if the poet had a profound insight into their household troubles.

Here the folk elements are strong and touch the heart of common people.

Animals come alive, as do the forest and the presiding deities of Nature.

Gods suffer fates similar to those of the common folk.

Dwija Madhava’s tale is a much shorter version and more like a vrata tale, its highlight being the killing of a demon named Mangala.

Source Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume III page 53 – IHRF
Folklore of Bangladesh (2008) by Usamsujjaman Khan, University of Michigan
A History of Bengali Literature (1960) by Sukumar Sen, Sahitya Akademi New Delhi