The Tarakeshwar murder: Elokeshi offers a betel-leaf to the seated Mahant

The Tarakeshwar murder, 1873, involved three people. A husband and wife, Nabin Chandra Banerjee, a young Brahmin who lived in Calcutta; his wife Elokeshi, a buxom girl who lived with her father (Nil Kamal Mookerjee) in Kumrul, a village in the Hooghly district close to Calcutta; and the Mahant or chief priest of the Shiva temple at Tarakeshwar, a short distance away from Kumral. In 1872 while on a visit to the tample, Elokeshi caught the eye of the Mahant, who subsequently seduced her and carried on an affair for a year after in his quarters. All of Elokeshi’s family were privy to the affair and helped her. Nabin never suspected his wife’s infidelity until May 1873, during a visit to her. He learnt of the intrigue and questioned his wife and her family, but all denied the facts and Nabin was pacified. However Nabin decided to remove Elokeshi to her grandmother’s house and later to Calcutta to be with him. The Mahant had become very attached to Elokeshi and persuaded her father to sabotage Nabin’s plans. Nabin learnt of this and all his suspicions were confirmed about the affair. This led Nabin to murder Elokeshi by beheading her with a fish-knife.

Watercolour and graphite on paper


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