Worship of Balarama in Coochbehar: A Historical Study
The worship of Balarama, the elder of Krishna was very popular in the KamtaKoch Kingdom; he is still worshipped independently or along with Krishna in a number of temples in Coochbehar. However, he still remains utterly untouched historically and independently as he should have been. An attempt has been made here to study the background, nature and extent of Balarama’s worship in the Coochbehar State along with exploring out the causes of its immense popularity. The question of Balarama’s worship as one of the Vyuhas and/or of the Avataras or something else has also been addressed. Keeping in view the simultaneous worship of Balarama and Manasa on special occasions, their relationship in popular concept has also been investigated. We have consulted the original source materials complementing with relevant secondary sources and undertaken field trips to explore the issue. It is found that Balaram’s identity as a patron of agriculture and a deity of fertility - Hala (ploughshare) being his most distinctive weapon and Halayudha as his nomenclature – contributed considerably to his popularity among the pre-dominantly agricultural people of the Kamata-Koch Kingdom.