The last of his tribe: Where demon king Mahishasura still ‘rules’

Members of the Asur community with tumda and tamak (two of the tribal musical instruments) ready to perform at Carron tea estate. Photos: Monita Rai

The beats of drum from a nearby Durga puja pandal wafting through the tin walls of his modest dwelling makes Shuita, a septuagenarian, restless.

The sounds of festivities to celebrate ten-handed Hindu deity Durga’s victory over demon king Mahishasura spur within him a tumult of agony and humiliation, an inexplicable bundle of emotion that he has been enduring since childhood coming from the Asur community.

Shuita is a member of a minuscule community, scattered in the labour lines of a few tea estates in the Dooars region of North Bengal near Bhutan border, which believes itself to be the descendants of the mythical demon slayed by Durga.

In the community’s collective conscience, the Vedic gods and goddesses ganged up to unfairly kill their ancestor Mahishasura, who had captured the Devaloka, a mythological place where deities of Hindu pantheons reside.

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