BHUBANESWAR: Residents of Bahanaga who were first responders of the tragic train tragedy that killed 288 passengers organised a mass mundan (tonsuring) programme on Sunday, the 10th day of the mishap, to pay tribute to the departed souls.
As many as 116 people, aged between 18 and 75, shaved their heads near a pond close to Bahanaga High School that was converted into a temporary morgue and housed 211 bodies, and took bath with priests chanting mantra as an important part of the 10th-day ritual. The participants of the mass mundan programme were given new clothes. Among those who tonsured their heads were 12 tribals from hamlets near Bahanaga Bazar station who had rescued several passengers on a fateful evening on June 2.
“The train passengers who were killed in the accident were like our own people. We rescued some of them and recovered some of the bodies. Their family members may not have performed the last rites as several bodies are yet to be identified. We decided to follow the tradition like we do for our family members to seek peace for their souls,” said Dhalia Singh (75), the eldest among the tribals.
Villagers from around 15 villages were among those who shaved their head and took bath in the pond. While the rituals on the 10th day were conducted as per Hindu tradition, the organisers have made massive arrangements for Biswa Shanti Maha Yajna (for world peace), a Sarva Dharma Prarthana Sabha (all faith prayer) and chanting of veda along with 12-hour ‘mantra japa’ near the accident spot by members of Gayatri families from four districts in next two days.
The three-day programme is being organised by Bahanaga-Soro Anchalika Mancha and Balasore Samajika Sanghathan, a local social organisation, with donations and contributions from locals. Maulvis and pastors have been invited for the all-faith prayer on Monday. “People from different faiths were killed in the accident. We do not know the religion of many of the deceased who are still unidentified. So we are making it an all-religion programme and all are invited to participate in the mass prayer,” said Debajyoti Dasmohapatra, a member of the organising committee.