Kharchi Puja or Kharchi Festival is a week-long tribal festival celebrated in Ashada month. Kharchi Puja 2010 began on July 21 in Chaturdasha Devata Temple in Agartala, Tripura. It is the unique cultural festival of tribals in Tripura. Two weeks after the Kharchi Festival, Ker Puja is celebrated in Tripura.
Pinaki Das wrote for ANI and published in Sify:
The weeklong historical Kharchi festival began here in the presence of thousands of devotees at the Chaturdasha Devata Temple. Kharchi, which means ‘auspicious’ in Kakborok, the main tribal language of the state, in the past was celebrated within the premises of the royal palace, for the peace and well being of the kingdom. These days, though, with the abolition of the monarchy, people from all walks of life, including non-tribals celebrate the festival together.
Many devotees believe that this age-long tradition is a symbol of harmony and tranquility for all the ethnic communities present in the state.
“According to me, this symbolizes unity of both tribal and non-tribal. As Kharchi belongs to us (our) tribal tradition and the Chantai (chief priest) performs the ritual, but you can find people apart from the tribal group, and there are also people who have come all the way from different states to visit this,” said Rasmita Deb, a devotee.
Though Kharchi is a tribal festival, but the 14 deities that are worshipped are all Hindu gods and goddesses. Remarkably, both tribal priests as well as Hindu brahmins perform the rituals together.
“I think in the whole India this is the only place where 14 deities are worshiped together at one time. I have visited many other places and seen rituals of worshiping one or two gods but not 14 gods together. This is the first time I am witnessing such a ritual,” said Sathi, a tourist.
On the first day of the festival, the idols of deities are brought out in a procession led by the chief royal priest, or the ‘Raj Chantai’, followed by other priests bearing bamboo parasols and thousands of devotees, to the nearby Howrah river for a holy bath.
Another special feature of this festival is that these deities are kept locked in a room throughout the year, and it is only during these seven days that they are shown to the devotees. The popularity of Kharchi is mounting day-by-day and every year it attracts tourists from various parts of India.