By Swami Harshananda
Āgamanī literally means ‘welcome’ songs.
Śrī Durgāpujā is one of the major festivals celebrated on a grand scale in Bengal, Orissa, Bihar and Assam. Beautiful clay murti-s are ceremonially installed during the period of nine days (1st to 9th in the month of Āśvina, śuklapakṣa or bright half) (October) and elaborate worship is performed. ‘Āgamanī’ is the name given to a particular type of songs generally sung on this occasion as part of the ‘Kālīkīrtan’ programmes.
Srī Durgā is actually Pārvatī or Umā, the beloved daughter of queen Menā and king Girirāja (the king of Himalayas), married to Lord Śiva. It is long since the daughter has visited the house of her parents. The parents, especially the mother Menā, are anxious about her welfare since rumors have reached their ears that their daughter is languishing in her husband’s house owing to his poverty and queer ways of life.
The Āgamanī songs depict their concern and anxiety for their daughter and anger towards their son-in-law. They are full of tenderness of the mother’s love for the daughter. Solicitude for the welfare of Umā, disgust with Śiva’s way of life, especially his living in the cremation grounds, besmearing his body with ashes and begging his food. These songs express their anger in a resolve not to send her back to her husband’s house and even a grim determination to fight a wordy duel with him if he presses for her return. These are some of the sentiments frequently found in these songs. Rāmprasād, Kamalākānta and Dāśarathi are some of the well-known mystic poets who have composed these songs.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore