On Sunday, 25 September 2022, the auspicious day of Hindu worship Mahalaya, turned gruesome when a boat carrying Hindu devotees to The Bodeshwari temple in Bangladesh’s Panchagarh district was overturned leading to the deaths of at least 24 people and multiple people that were announced to be missing.
Mahalaya is not only one of the biggest holidays for the Hindu communtiy, but also one of the grandest in the entire East Indian and Bangladesh area as it represents the onset of the Puja festivities and the coming of Goddess Durga. With hundreds and thousands of devotees flocking to temples every year to seek the goddess’ blessing, there’s always the problem of overcrowding, and authorities believe such to be a possible reason behind the incident.
According to authorities and the remaining survivors, the number of devotees the boat was carrying far exceeded it’s original weight limit and that might’ve been the reason for the boat capsizing in the Korotoa river waters. While it is certainly plausible other factors remain to be investigated, but given Bangladesh’s long record of boat related incidents over the years, the reasoning holds certain weight as also emphasized by Panchagargh’s Administrative Chief and Deputy Commissioner Zahurul Haque.
Solaiman Ali, The Administrative Chief of Panchagargh’s Boda sub-district, giving his official statement to the reporters said, “Around 24 people, including 8 children and 12 women have died in the incident so far. Some of them were declared dead after they were brought to a local hospital.” Ali further went on to share that the rescue operation that was still underway was being helped with firefighters and multiple local divers and some of the survivors that managed to swim ashore were also assisting in the rescue process, some possibly to find their friends and family.
Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have expressed condolences to the victims’ families in separate statements and ordered the local authorities to carry out the rescue process and a possible monetary compensation to the victims and bereaved is being discussed.