GREAT FIGURES OF THE MISSIONARY WORK – Bengal and the Kingdom of the Dragon (23)

– Joaquim Magalhães de Castro

Dhubri? We are told that it is “a few miles ahead,” but the truth is that there is no way to find it. I will end up locating Dhubri (possibly homonym of the desired one) on the map but many kilometers ahead – out of our way – on the banks of the Sankosh river, born in the mountainous foothills of Bhutan. 

We meet a man with light brown eyes who starts by pointing in different directions and ends up informing him that Dhubri is “about 120 kilometers” from there and that “it is easy to identify because it is located by the road.” As the day slowly fades, as it is of its nature in the tropics, the hope of locating both settlements diminishes in me. Only if we had a chance to come across one of those miraculous coincidences … We now cross the region of Bongaigaon, it is late at night. It will have to wait for a future trip… After searching the internet, this is what I found on the page of the Diocese of this province run by a bishop named Almeida: “Thanks to the Augustinian priests of Dhaka Christianity was introduced in the area of Bongaigaon, counting the district of Rangamati Dhubri with a vibrant Christian community in the 16th century. Later came Salvatorian priests and, after that, Salesians settled in Dhubri after having traveled by the river Brahmaputra.”

Interestingly, Estevão Cacela does not give us any impression about their river route, although it lasted a few days and forced the priests to make sojourns on land. Although Christendom was already organized Christendom in the region, the Jesuits tells us nothing about them. Did Cabral and Cacela contact them, or were they simply unaware of their existence?

Let us continue with the information contained in the page of the Diocese: “The first priests to reside in Dhubri were the Salesian Fathers Archimede Piannazzi and L. Rocca, appointed to work among the Garo,” people of Tibetan-Burmese origin, former hunters of heads.

After all, the entire region extends from Bongaigaon, the last capital of the ancient kingdom of Kamatapur, until Dhubri, on the banks of Brahmaputra, and there are pockets of Portuguese descendants. If we include Goalpara, on the other side of Brahmaputra, we have a perfect research triangle awaiting the appropriate researcher.

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