DURGAPUJA IN KOLKATA : A NOSTALGIA LONG LASTING

DURGAPUJA IN KOLKATA : A NOSTALGIA LONG LASTING

This afternoon while returning from the nearby vegetable market we both, myself and my grand daughter, were walking too slow during the last lap of our journey, for, we were crossing the pandal of our neighbourhood Durgapuja. We stopped for a while, and, watched how the women members of the organizing group preparing themselves for the last rituals for the final journey of the Durgamata and her four children. Most of the decorative items of the pandal were already stripped down. At this point my grand daughter made this comment “I always feel sad on this day, the Doshomi….. this means the Durga Pujo is over and a wait begins for a whole one     year !” I had no option but to admit that I too since her age, always felt the same way. I bet, you ask any Calcuttan, of any age, belonging to any state or religion, she or he would always felt the same way.

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cs-05Durgapuja, in Kolkata, and, all over the state, is a festival dear to one and all and a show-case of true secular spirit. Everyone whole heartedly participate.

images 2How the pujas are held ? Let us get an idea. There are various types of pujas now.

Bonedi Barir Pujo (Puja held by erstwhile zamindars or famous families of Bengal). These pujas are normally held at the permanent Thakur Dalan (Festival Arena). These are the oldest pujas, and there are many such family-pujas still being celebrated .

images 3Baroari Pujo (Puja held by Community of Friends) “Baroari” literary means twelve friends. Legend has it that 12 young men from a zamindar house came together and started the first community puja. This is the lifeline of the Durga Puja of Bengal There are 28000 such community pujas in Bengal. Kolkata holds about 3000 large size such Friends Community pujas. These are held by collecting donation from locality, sponsorship and patronage by various shops, factories and industries.

Housing Estate Puja – These are the new entrants. A large number of multi-storied buildings with many flats have come up all over the state. Each building organizes a Durgapuja.

images 5So, in all there are a large number places pujas are held with pomp and glories. The decorations made, especially by the Community Pujas, on the Puja Pandal (Puja Arena) are spectacular. Each one is a creative and very unique exhibit. Various industries announce the best pujas and make cash awards to the best decorated Puja. This made the event competitive and interesting ! It is normally a 4-day event, but, these days many pujos linger on — they start a few days early and delay their “final day” . There are a large number of crowd from early morning, through whole night on pandal hopping ! There are many temporary food stalls and restaurants who arrange additional chairs and tables.

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THIS TEMPORARY ALL-SILVER PANDAL HAS RS. 40 CRORE TAG !

PHOTO SOURCE : GOOGLE IMAGES

 

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Songs on Women’s Empowerment

Here are 4 songs. These Bengali songs form part of our village level campaign, by team SWADHINA ,  at times with small street plays. On this GANDHI JAYANTI we remember the large section of women who still have a long journey to make to reach towards living a life with equality and dignity.

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Fresh Vegetables at Doorstep: Organic Way

Kitchen Garden Promotion Programme of Swadhina

The train reached at Ghatsila station around 9 in the night. As soon as the train touched platform I could locate the smiling face of Laduram, waiving desperately at me. I waived back, assuring him that I too have located him. As soon as I got down at the platform, Laduram took from me the carry-bag and now I only have my shoulder

bag. We were all set for the little walk till we reach our destination – the local Swadhina camp office located near the daily village market (Haat). Swadhina, a voluntary organisation is working in this area of Jharkhand on a women’s empowerment and livelihood enhancement programme for the past many years now.  Laduram is the able field- organiser for Swadhina here.

After finishing the packed dinner, of chapati and vegetable curry procured from the local eatery , we spent a little time about the next day’s visit to the villages. My sole purpose of coming here was to visit the Household Vegetable Farming or Kitchen Garden Programme of Swadhina.

Next couple of days Laduram took me in villages around Ghatsila  in his over-used motorcycle ! It gives relatively more sound than speed, and, I anyway had no complains to make since I myself drive at a moderate pace ! At the end of the trip, with the help of the project documents I could gather many insights which are shared here.

IMG-20171128-WA0083Objective: The basic objective of the programme, supported by SARRA,  is to raise Kitchen Garden not only to have Food for All In The Home, but also to enhance nutrition intake in the family. It is also envisaged to promote organic way of farming, with organic fertilizers and organic pesticides. As a result this programme would

– Provide Food Security & Nutritional support to families using their available household land resources.
– Provide scope for local women to stake claim on family plots
– Change the attitude of the families and the society towards women’s land ownership
– Encourage land-based livelihood among communities. As a follow-up activity, efforts will be vested on encouraging people for seed preservation. The programme was facilitated by: SARRA, under ILC and implemented by: Swadhina

Activities3 participants from Swadhina participated in the Training of Trainers (TOT) organized by SARRA at Tirupathi last year4. Mr. Laduram Mahato , Ms. Yashoda Mardi and Ms. Karmi Kisku participated in the 3 day intense training programme on the Basics of Kitchen Garden preparation, Food and Nutrition through Kitchen Garden, preparation of organic composts for Kitchen Garden.

Later a 3 day Training Programme was organised at Ghatsila, East Singbhum in Jharkhand. The trainers who had attended the TOT, along with Resource Persons from Swadhina explained the process of kitchen garden preparation and organic fertiliser/pesticide preparation and usage, through charts/ posters/ Flash-Cards.  

Through socio-economic family survey, the field workers identified potential implementors of the Kitchen Garden programme. These women were chosen for the Kitchen Garden Training and trained accordingly.

The implementation of the gardens initially received a huge set-back as Jharkhand experienced a massive rainfall in the region continuously throughout August and September. The plots that were being identified and prepared couldn’t be developed as a result of the continuous rainfall. However work began with rapid ferocity as soon as the rainfall subsided. The families members supported the women in developing plots, applying primary layer of organic fertilizers (as prepared by the trainees of SARRA training). Fencing was given to all the plots.

Seeds of red amaranthus, pumpkin, green chillies, tomato, brinjal, ladies finger, and several variety of leafy-vegetables were provided to the women.

This programme has been taken up in four villages, covering 21 families who are mostly belonging to Scheduled Tribe and backward class communities in East Singbhum district in Jharkhand state.

SOME REFLECTIONS: -Though the families are yet to experience the direct benefits of food security and nutrition from the kitchen garden, the fact that they have an access IMG-20171128-WA0030to direct nutrition in their back or front yard is an exciting prospect for the beneficiaries.
– The trainings have convinced the local families of the benefits of organic farming, they have especially learnt to use local natural fruit and vegetable resources to prepare organic fertilizers at home itself.
– Earmarking a plot in the name of the woman of the family has given a strong message to the society about women’s land ownership. To the woman, it is her personal piece of land.
– Those who had successfully implemented FAITH Gardens earlier could set a very good example to others about the farming abilities of women. In the words of Karmi Kisku – “The quality of my produce was so good that my husband took tips from me on how to actually grow such vegetables. He and his friends used my technique and had a good produce”

 

RAFI – LIVE SHOW !

(This is a repeat posting – a tribute on his Death Anniversary)

Rafi: a tribute

Not only me, my entire family is still an ardent supporter of Rafi. Even my grandson feels Rafi has a golden voice, and, a regular story telling session, by me, on the greatness of Rafi, made him more addicted to his melodious renditions.
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It was Amirchand who first broke the news that Rafi would be coming for a musical night and both Radhanath and Deep were all excited about it, and, instantly decided that they would not miss this opportunity to hear Rafi – live, for the first time. These youth were all die-hard fans of Rafi – Mohammed Rafi. It is then that Amirchand disclosed that the event was to be held in a place called Kanchrapara – a place quite far, in another district, and one has to take a train from Calcutta to reach to the place. The lowest level of ticket to the show would cost Rs. 5/-.

After an early dinner, on the D-day, the three set out for the place, a kind of a leap into the unknown! After reaching at the Railway station, it was not difficult to locate the Railway Ground where the show was on. A herd of people were heading for the ground and these three only had to quietly follow them. On reaching they found a large tent made, and lo behold, all the tickets were sold out. But the locals told them not to lose heart and just wait. The show started much earlier, in the evening, and in any case Rafi Saab’s performance would take place at the end part of the programme.

In those days such shows were organised not for any profit, but to enjoy, and once the tickets were over, and if there were still many people wanting to join, the organisers would open the side screens so that all and sundry could still enjoy the show, sitting on the ground outside the arena. The stage was made quite high so that everyone could see the show. So, soon the side screens were lifted and Deep, Radhanath and Amirchand too became part of the crowd enjoying the show…..even if they did not purchase the ticket !
At this time an unexpected thing happened. Deep noticed a local volunteer, with a large Usher Badge approaching this side, and he recognised him – Biman ! “Hey Biman” ! Deep ran towards him and they hugged in sheer joy of finding each other’s childhood friend. “I did not know you stay in Kanchrapara”, said Deep. Biman explained that he lives in the railway area and it is their youth organisation which was holding this function. Biman asked all three to follow him quietly. Biman took them to the front row where there were cushioned chairs – places reserved for special guests. Now they were seated at the front seat…. just few feet away from the performers!

rafiAround mid-night Rafi entered the stage with a shout “Yahoo…Yahoo” .What an entry ! Deep felt breathless. Now they realised why so many people loved him. He could shout full throated just at the beginning of his show – without bothering whether his voice would be choked or cracked with that huge shout. Such was the genuineness of his intention of giving his best, and all out to his audience. The audience was passing on request slips to him and he was singing accordingly. Then he stopped for a while, reading a slip and asked “Who among you passed on this slip, please stand up”. Rafi said.“This is my favourite too.. ‘O duniyakerakhwalle’”. An old man got up and raised his hand. Rafi Saab assured him “Kindly remind me later”. Thereafter he kept on singing. At one point there was a request for a duet song.He asked among the audience “Can someone come up to the stage and join me?” A young girl braved and went up to sing.Together they sang quite a few numbers and all along Rafi was guiding her like his daughter and managing every slip in notes with ease. Little did we realise that it was well past midnight and the new dawn had already arrived with the sun-rise . A few organisers came up to the stage – perhaps to remind him that he had to stop now. At this Rafi Saab requested the organisers to give him a little more time and asked “Is the gentleman still here who requested for Duniya Ke Rakhwalle ?” Before he could finish the sentence the old man got up and raised his hand.
When Rafi Saab finished the song it was already day light outside. The arena was still crowded and not a single soul had left the arena -such was his audience connect.
Deep and his friends came back home – content with a memorable experience for a life time.
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No wonder people have never forgotten him…Rafi lives on and on.

(NOW CLOSE YOUR EYES, CLICK BELOW AND FEEL THE PRESENCE OF RAFI )
“Tum Mujhe yun bhoola naa paaogey
Jab kabhi bhi sunogey geet mere,
Sangg sangg tumbhi gun guano gey”

(You will never be able to forget me,
Whenever you would hear my song,
You too would be humming with me.)

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MOTHER TERESA: Mai to Fan Ban Gaya !

Today is Mother Teresa’s Birthday. We always remember her.

EARTH: SOME CALL IT HOME

mother teresaMother Teresa  to be canonized on September 4, 2016, Pope Francis will declare Blessed Teresa of Kolkata a saint at the Vatican on that day.
It is time to share the joy ….. from the City of Joy of which Mother is very much a part.
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It was 1971, the Bangladesh Liberation War was on, as a result a large number of people were taking a refuge in the areas bordering West Bengal and of course Kolkata too was a place which took a large intake of people coming across the border. Relief work was just on and there were relief camps set up in many parts. Those days some of us were involved with a University Student Organisation called SCM and we thought of doing something to support the relief efforts . Our steward Rev. Donald was a very able person and always ready to second any idea…

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8 For PEACE !

peace-8

8 For Peace !

These are 8 poems/songs on seeking Peace on Earth and for a more Humane World. In earlier postings already 2 poems were shared with you i.e. Cry Peace and Someone Waiting. Here are the rest 6 :

3.No One Wins a Battle

No one wins a battle, none wins in a War,
Just by killing others, you can’t go too far.
None is made happy that way, none is made happy that way,
The blood-stain in your hands, haunts you in the night, haunts you in the day.
Say No, No to War.

If you sow the seeds of anger and hatred,
You only let the passion of violence spread.
None is made happy that way, none is made happy that way,
The blood-stain in your hands, haunts you in the night, haunts you in the day.
Say No, No to War.

Millions get killed, billions are spent in a day
Just to save someone’s ego, what a huge price to pay.
None is made happy that way, none is made happy that way,
The blood-stain in your hands, haunts you in the night, haunts you in the day.
Say No, No to War.

4.Peace Is The Arms

Let’s have arms which are useful for whole humanity
Which kill nobody nowhere but bring-in sanity,
Peace is the arms we need,
Peace, Peace, Peace.

Let’s seek justice for all, end all poverty
that we strengthen the weak, end all captivity,
Peace is the arms we need,
Peace, Peace, Peace.

Is there someone who is conscious of the whole reality
Work, work now is the time, now is the opportunity,
Peace is the arms we need,
Peace, Peace, Peace.

5.No One Is A Stranger

No one is a stranger in a world of friends,
No one is alone in a world of love,
Lets work for change, lets work for change,
Lets work for Peace.

It is a one world, a great family
A little smile can make it happy
Lets work for change, lets work for change,
Lets work for Peace.

Make it a new world where none is hurt
Where all are one, and all are just
That’s what we need, that’s what we need,
That’s what we seek.

6.A Better Day

If you give me a song to sing
I will sing for a better day.
A day when no one hates none
and acts as if human being.
Give me a better place to live
Give me a better place to stay
That’s all, that’s all I have to say.

If you give me poem to read
I will read for a better world.
A world where no one hungry
there is enough for all to feed.
Give me a better place to live
Give me a better place to stay
That’s all, that’s all I have to say.

If you give me a dream to dream
I will dream for love and peace.
Is there none to listen to cry
and none to hear the scream ?
Give me a better place to live
Give me a better place to stay
That’s all, that’s all I have to say.

7.There Are Bigger Wars

There are bigger wars to fight,
there are greater battles to win
when millions go hungry,
there are better causes to be in.
There are million children who do not have clothings,
when millions go naked there are better wars to win.

There are many a lot women, tortureed day out day in
when half of the world silenced there are beteter wars to win.

8.Its your Money

Its your money, its my money
Its every one’s money they spend,
to buy the arms, to buy the guns
to run a foolish race.
eh, what sort of fun is this. what sort of fun is this !

Its your wife, my husband
Its our children get killed,
somebody somewhere make a good profit
get their pockets filled.
eh, what sort of fun is this. what sort of fun is this !

It’s our environment ecology
everything they just ruin,
Is nuclear power, some good weapons
all for our gain ?
eh, what sort of fun is this. what sort of fun is this !

If you wish to listen to the songs ….. click the link below

8 for peace – audio

If you wish to view the video playlist of the songs … click the link below

8 for Peace … video

 

 

 

MOTHER TERESA: Mai to Fan Ban Gaya !

mother teresaMother Teresa  to be canonized on September 4, 2016, Pope Francis will declare Blessed Teresa of Kolkata a saint at the Vatican on that day.
It is time to share the joy ….. from the City of Joy of which Mother is very much a part.
*******
It was 1971, the Bangladesh Liberation War was on, as a result a large number of people were taking a refuge in the areas bordering West Bengal and of course Kolkata too was a place which took a large intake of people coming across the border. Relief work was just on and there were relief camps set up in many parts. Those days some of us were involved with a University Student Organisation called SCM and we thought of doing something to support the relief efforts . Our steward Rev. Donald was a very able person and always ready to second any idea, no matter even if it is at times childish ! After a great deal of discussions and several round of tea, served lovingly by Usha Bhabi (Donald’s ever supportive wife), we came out with a ‘brilliant’ idea, of organising a special film show for Fund Raising – a James Bond Movie ! The next part was to invite some one very special to inaugurate this Fund Raising event. We all Globe .jpgagreed that Mother Teresa would be invited to do this and Donald was entrusted with this heavy task ! He was visibly nervous with this nomination, but promised that he would go all out to get Mother for the occasion. He said he would approach through Rev. Canon Subir Biswas who was a very sincere social worker and heading a big relief agency in the city.
On the day of the show my friend Babu said “I bet Mother would never come”. I too felt the same way for several reasons :
one, it was a Sunday, that too a morning show…..she must be having some prayer meetings ,
two, it was for a film show…. and
three (the worst one) a James Bond Movie !
On Her Majesty.jpegIt was being held at the Globe Theatre, the best in the city. Three of us took charge of ushering spectators on balcony. Just before the commencement of the show the lights went dim, and we knew this was the very moment of Inauguration of the event. The curtain slowly raised, and, …. lo behold… there was Mother standing in front at the centre stage, with folded hands ! What she said was that she was glad that these young people have thought of doing such a good thing to raise funds for relief work and that young people should do service to the people in need.
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It was 1977, Rev.Canon Biswas died at a very young age. Some of us joined the funeral procession, we were all walking, it was a long silent procession, a large number of people joined. Suddenly one of my friends pulled my hands and pointed towards a spot in front of us. Yes, Mother was walking in the procession. We briskly walked and joined her, walked beside her till the burial ground … could not resist the temptation of walking with her ! At the burial ground she sat through out, unnoticed , on a small concrete slab on the ground. That was a lesson for us on humility.
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It was 1985. Me and a colleague of mine had to meet the Archbishop of Calcutta. We went quite early in the morning and was sitting at the waiting room adjacent to Archbishop’s office. A few minutes later there was a sound of the door opening and an official of the Archbishop’s House ushered in some one …. Mother Teresa ! Now, me and my friend for a few seconds got perplexed and really did not know what to do ! Mother ….. in person ….. within reach ! When we came to our senses, we did out next best thing, bowed down ….. touched her feet and uttered “pronam”. She then asked about us. We told her our names, that we work as social workers in a voluntary organisation in the city, that we are organising an Ecumenical Rally next week for which we need an endorsement letter from the Archbishop and with the letter we would go around various congregations in and around the city during the day. (We purposely explained at length about us, so that we can feel good that we had a long talk with Mother! We were not sure whether she heard all of our full length speech ! How wrong we were !!) A little later the officer appeared once again and said “Mother, please come and meet the Archbishop”. To this, Mother said “No, let these two young men meet the Archbishop first, these people are social workers, they have many places to cover the whole day ….”.
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funeralIt was September, 1997. Myself, my wife and two of my colleagues were at the queue. The mortal remains of Mother was kept at the Loretto House. This was Park Street, a very important busy place in the city, but for the past two days it was unusually calm and quiet. People in the queue were all silent … some of them were crying quite visibly. In front of us was a woman with two children …. apparently very poor and she said she came from a neighbouring district and set out very early in the morning …. Behind us was a gentleman wearing suit… apparently a corporate executive. Three hours later we reached to the Mother, saw her for the last time. True, a Mother to all …. rich and the poor, rural and the urban….for whom caste, creed or colour meant nothing but some printed words.. is gone …. gone to become history and a heritage.