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Raymangal


Raymangal 17th century Bangla narrative poem about the folkloric tiger god, Daksin Ray, who was worshipped by folk people, especially in the sundarbans, in the belief that paying homage to him would ensure them safety from the attacks of' tigers.'

According to legend, Daksin Ray was an army chief of Mukut Ray, raja of Jessore. Conquering a large area, he set up as an independent ruler. At one stage he came into conflict with Gazi Khan and Gazi Kalu and was defeated. It was only after ceding part of his territory to them that he was able to make peace. These events form the theme of Raymabgal, composed by a Hindu poet, and of gazi kalu-champavati, composed by a Muslim poet. Perhaps the first version of Raymangal was by the poet Madhav Acharya, but it is no longer extant. Another version was written in 1686 by Krsnaram of Nimita, near Kolkata, supposedly at the behest of Daksin Ray who appeared to him in a dream. A version of Raymangal was also composed by Haridev in 1723 and another much later by Rudradev.

Raymangal is about a merchant named Puspadatta, who asks Ratai to collect logs from the Sundarbans in order to build a ship. Ratai goes to the Sunderbans with his six brothers and a son and returns with the logs. Puspadatta builds his ship, which he names Madhukar, and then sets off on a journey to recover his lost father. At Khaniya, which is on his way, he prays to Daksin Ray. Seeing the shrine of a pir, he enquires about its history and learns the story of the war and the subsequent peace between Daksin Ray and Gazi Khan. While crossing the sea, Puspadatta sees a vision of a unique city named Turanga on the surface of the water. On reaching the port, he narrates his experience to the king. But, failing to show the king the unique city, he is imprisoned. He prays to Daksin Ray and succeeds in securing his own freedom as well as the freedom of his imprisoned father. He then marries the king's daughter, Ratnavati, and returns home. There is some similarity between the story of Raymangal and the story of Dhanapati Saodagar in chandimangal.

Raymangal contains a wealth of information about religious and social beliefs and practices of the period. It also contains important facts about south Bengal and the Sundarbans. Singers present Raymangal on the occasion of Daksin Ray's annual puja. [Wakil Ahmed]