April 4 , Barpeta
Governor JB Patnaik today visited several sattras (Vaisnavite monasteries) of Barpeta district and experienced first-hand the rich legacy left behind by the 15th-century saint and reformer, Srimanta Sankardev.
But more than the visit, Patnaik created a history of sorts when he persuaded the Sattradhikar (spiritual head of a sattra) of the Patbausi Sattra to allow women into the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine – something traditionally kept out of bound for women for centuries.
A source in the Raj Bhavan said that the Governor – surprised by the exclusion of women in the sattra affairs – made a strong pitch before the Sattradhikar for entry of women into the holy place, and succeeded in convincing the head of the monastery to allow women to enter the shrine.
This is the first time that women made their entry into the shrine.
“The Governor took 20 women with him into the Sattra – said to be the first time in its history – and performed some traditional rituals. The women were garlanded with leaves of the holy tulasi,” the source said, adding that the Governor’s action drew spontaneous support of the public. The sattras visited by the Governor included the Patbausi, Sundaridiya and Barpeta sattras.
The Governor also addressed a meeting organised by the Asom Sattra Mahasabha, recalling the contributions of Sankardev that had enriched the socio-cultural and religious spheres of the State like never before. He said that the contemporary society had a lot to gain by following the ideals preached by the great saint.