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Festive tourism at terracotta temple cluster

3 days of prayers & culture in February to celebrate Maluti's unique appeal

HISTORY ALIVE: Terracotta temples in Maluti, Dumka, where the three-day festival will be held in February

Ranchi: Come February, there will be another festival to highlight the importance of Maluti, the terracotta temple village in Dumka declared a heritage site by the state government, to try and revive its past glories.

A new outfit named Bharatiya Sanskritik Virasat Sanrakshan and Samvardhan Parishad will organise a three-day Maluti Mahotsav in February last week, the parishad's organising committee coordinator and joint coordinator Sanjay Shaurya and Pranav Kumar Babbu, well-known social and cultural activists in Ranchi, said.

The state art and culture department already hosts Bhado Mahotsav in Maluti in the month of Bhadra (August-September). So, why another festival?

"As residents of Jharkhand, we want to highlight Maluti's unique importance," Babbu said. "Besides holding special pujas at temples there, we will host seminars and cultural events during the three-day festival."

Babbu added they would also organise a promotional event for the festival at the ongoing Saras evam Khadi Mela on January 5. Deoghar's troupe of Deepak Mishra will perform the Shiv tandava and Ranchi danseuse Mamta Sinha kathak that day.

Maluti's history dates back to the 15th century.

Legend has it that a shepherd boy Basanta captured a lost pet baj (hawk) of Sultan Alauddin Hassan Shah of Gaur and returned it to him. As a token of gratitude, the sultan gifted Basanta the kingdom of Maluti and the new king became known as Raja Baj Basanta. In the course of time, Basanta's family got divided into four clans and each built a cluster of terracotta temples over the next two centuries.

But of the 108 temples that were built, around 70 stand today, the others worn down by the neglect of centuries. Those that remain have magnificent terracotta panels with images of goddesses and episodes from the epics sculpted on them. The temple of Ma Mauliksha, known as the sister of Ma Tara of Tarapith in neighbouring Birbhum of Bengal, is particularly famous. Devotees of Tarapith flock to Maluti.

In recent times, the state government has tried to bring Maluti back to the limelight, especially with its award-winning tableau during the Republic Day parade at Rajpath in New Delhi in 2015.

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