institution in Bengal villages unfortunately now dying out is the Chanditala. Usually,
this is but a plat form round a shady tree and there may be one or two images under
the tree which people anoint with sindur (vermilion) and pour water on them. The gramyadevatas
or the village, godlings are kept there. The Chanditala is a great institution
which brings the villagers of different castes and creeds together.
It is here that religious discourses are held, scripturesl ike
Puranas, Ramayan and Mahabharat are read and Kirtans or Palas are offered. Nodoubt
the caste hierarchy has its impactand the men of higher castes would sit on the plat form
while the Bagdis, Doms or the other lower caste people would sit below the
platform. Muslims also could freely attend the discourses. In spite of this difference in
seating arrangement, it cannot be said that there was much difference in other aspects. A
Muslim and a Brahmin would come and walkout together.