(November – December)
Raas Mela is the most ancient and traditional of all fairs. Every year even when the festive mood of the bygone Durga Puja still lingers in our minds, people of Cooch Behar get set to celebrate the Raas Yatra of Sri Sri Madan Mohan Thakur. Raas mela celebrations commence from the auspicious day of Purnima in the month of Kartik according to Bengali calendar.
Though there is enough controversy regarding the beginning of this fair, its origin can be traced back during the rule of the 17th King of Cooch Behar, i.e. Maharaja Harendra Narayan, during 1783-1839. Evidence of this origin can be traced in the famous book of 'Rajyopakhyan' by Jainath Munshi. This Raas Mela is being celebrated first at Vetaguri, then at the Madan Mohan Temple of Cooch Behar city adjacent to Bairagi Dighi and afterwards from 1912 at the Parade Ground or the present Ras Mela Ground.
Only in 1912 due to severe cholera, the fair was displaced elsewhere and likely the glory of celebrations somewhat faded away that year. But from then on the Raas Mela is being celebrated annually at the Raas Mela Ground. Even the famous theft of the idol of Sri Sri Madan Mohan on 28th February of 1994 could not stop the celebration of the Raas Mela as usual. Next year alike the previous idol, a substitute idol made of eight-metallic compound was enthroned with the golden umbrella on top. At present the local Municipal Corporation conducts this Rass Mela and the Temple Trustee Board conducts the fair at the temple compound. Many devotees along with sellers from all over Bengal and adjacent states including Nepal and Bhutan throng this place during this fair.
The main difference between the Raas Mela held at Cooch Behar with that at Nabadwip is that unlike the dual idol of Radha-Krishna in Nabadwip, here in Cooch Behar only Sri Krishna, the family-deity of the royal Koch kingdom, is worshipped in the form of Madan Mohan. Here Sri Krishna separated from Sri Radha is worshipped as Sri Sri Madan Mohan. Another feature is that not only people of all creed & religion join this fair, but even the revolving Raas-Chakra (a tall semi-cylindrical like structure made out of paper and bamboo/posts) at the temple lawn is being beautifully decorated over generations by a Muslim family. This Raas-Chakra is beautifully decorated with paper floral designs and different pictures of Sri Krishna are pasted all over. This traditional fair takes place for at least continuous fifteen days. Overall, business transactions of different products, cultural and ritual practices, and the intermingling of people of all castes & creed mixed with joy and faith marks this fair a grand one!