10 recent things I haven’t blog posted about.

Hi friends,
This week, my blog post will feature 10 things I came across in the last few days but could not manage to talk much about it. I’ve spent time with family, friends, shooting people, searching for European remains in Bengal and old heritage buildings.

Photograph 1: Ram Katha by Murari Bapu 

Murari Bapu in Kolkata, Ram Katha in Kolkata

The effort of a hundred good works and the goodwill made goes to waste, if you have one bad friend motivating you.
– Murari Bapu.

Murari Bapu is a religious guru and attracts a very consistent audience. While photographing him, I listened to him very carefully. This is one of the few things that keeps me thinking even now. I thought of sharing this “Food for thought” with you.
(The Copyright of this image is with the Infinity Group, who was one of the organizers. I was the photographer on their behalf.)

Photograph 2: Siblings in Protsahan, Kolkata.

Protsahan, CSR, Don Bosco Park Circus
The joy of sharing.

While this photograph did not attract me at the start, it definitely brought a smile on my face after I looked at it for some time. So, when was the last time you whispered into your sisters ears and smiled?
I shot this in an event called “Protsahan”. It is a part of their Corporate Social Responsibility schemes and the organisers did not want to be named. I came to know, near 10 schools are funded by this organization. This event is like an inter-school festival, where more than 40 schools that educate underprivileged children participate.

The day before, I was invited by the Rotary Club of Behala to judge their inter school competition “NXT 2014” event of photography. A good amount of schools participated there as well.

Children are children, as long as they are not heavily socially conditioned, they come up with unique concepts and ideas. I took some time out and had a talk with a few vegetable sellers in Koley market. One of their sons go to a school which caters to under privileged children. While I was excited to see the quality of education provided to the child, I hated the way the father suffers from negativity.

Photograph 3: Maidan early morning. 

Winter Kolkata, Mist Kolkata, Maidan morning
Mist at 7:30 AM Maidan, Kolkata

Shot at Maidan, December 7, 2014. I set out of my home at 4 AM and strolled across the streets. Trust me, nothing is as peaceful. With warm clothes on, earphones plugged in and Anoushka Shankar dominating my mind, I walked almost 5 kilometers starting at 4 AM.

Sometime later, Rangan and Aditya joined in. This photograph was shot at 7:30 and that was the amount of fog. We reached there before the sun rise and we could not even see what was 3 feet ahead of us. I am definitely sure Aditya and Rangan thoroughly enjoyed it.

Photograph 4: The Dutch remains in Chinsurah, Bengal. 

A photo posted by Anirban Saha (@sahaanirban) on


Do you know Bengal’s culture is modified by as many as 8 European nations? A few notable of them are the Dutch, the French, the Armenians and the Greek. I went with a few acquaintances of mine, to Chinsurah. That is a place where we have sizable remains of the Dutch in Bengal.
This is the grave of Susanna Annamaria. If local stories are to be believed, she was married to 4 men and has inspired Ruskin Bond’s “Susanna’s seven husbands”, which later was made to the Indian film “7 khoon maaf”.
A section of the researchers, however reject the claim.  This temple styled tomb has not much information scribbled on it, but definitely had lovers’ name written in the interior walls. This octagonal structure is a fantastic example of Indo-Dutch architecture.
The Almighty gifted me the cloud that time. I feel blessed.   

Photograph(s) 5: The Armenian Church of Chinsurah. 

Armenian church in Chinsurah, Armenian church, Armenian culture, first armenian church in India, oldest church in India, old churches of bengalArmenian church in Chinsurah, Armenian church, Armenian culture, first armenian church in India, oldest church in India, old churches of bengal Armenian church in Chinsurah, Armenian church, Armenian culture, first armenian church in India, oldest church in India, old churches of bengal

This photograph is of the Armenian church of Chinsurah, Bengal. This is one of the oldest churches and the oldest Armenian Church in India.  Do you know what the Armenians did business of? Google and let me know. 

But for now, look at the clouds. Just look at the clouds !!     

Photograph 6: The Greek Church in Kolkata.
 
Greek Orthodox Church of Calcutta, Transfiguration of the Saviour Church, Kalighat church, Greek in Kolkata, Greek in Bengal, Greek traders
 

This is the interiors of the Greek Church in Calcutta. You can know more of it, in Rangan Datta’s blog post. Do you know that the Armenians and the Greek celebrate Christmas on the first week of January every year?  


Photograph 7: Radhanath Temple, by the Mondals of Bawali Raj bari, in Kolkata. 

Radhanath Temple Calcutta
The Radhanath Temple, Kolkata

Calcutta also hosts some incredible temples built by the Hindu businessmen here. This temple is called the Radhanath Temple, built by Raja Ram Mondal. Located in Chetla, this extraordinarily big and well decorated temple will be easy to spot however less popular it might be. You can read more of it in Deepanjan Ghosh’s blog post.

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Photograph 8: Selfie with my next generation.

A photo posted by Anirban Saha (@sahaanirban) on

My eldest cousin brother from the paternal side, has come to India. Meeting his children, i.e. my nephew, niece and playing with them was some incredible time. It is also for the first time I had a proper talk at length with my eldest brother. Weird, but true!

A special mention of my Boudi (sister-in-law) also needs to be there. She finds Kolkata greener than before and has noticed people following Traffic rules!

My niece, Aishani (Kapu) is growing up so fast. She can now construct sentences of her own and communicate what she wants. She isn’t a cry baby at all. If some random kid in the mall does not respond to her talks, she isn’t shy enough to walk up to him and give him one tight slap.

 


Photograph 9: 2 years of Nirbhaya Gangrape case in Delhi.

A photo posted by Anirban Saha (@sahaanirban) on



This is not a new photograph. This was shot when Kolkata led out a peace protest against the heinous Delhi Nirbhaya gangrape case. A lot had happened since then, not that the rape incidents came down. Delhi today is trying to recuperate from the Uber rape case.
Kolkata seemed to be so different. It stands 15th in crime against women in India. However Bengal ranks 3 in reported crime against women. The state has the highest action per report ratio. But all these statistical jargons failed to motivate me when a friend of mine was chased by suited gentlemen in Park Street as recently as last week. She was saree clad and not in short clothes.

 

Photograph 10: Thank you. 

While explaining to a friend how social media help me in the plagiarism case, I realised that my Facebook page has crossed 5500 Likes, by only blog posting.  I hardly share photographs in any forum, I do not tag people unnecessarily. Less than 20% of people who have Liked the page are in my friend list, most of them added me after liking my page. My Google+ profile shows 4000 people, most of them are not Indians and photography enthusiasts. To my utter surprise, I saw I am added by 670+ people over instagram. I still do not know how exactly to use it as a platform and I am pathetic with hashtags.

There is an increase of mobile traffic recently, more than 30% of my blog viewers access my site through their mobile phones. If you are one of them, please let me know if you find this site mobile friendly and if you have problems navigating through it.

 

I’ll leave you with 2 photographs I have taken recently. Saurish is one of the very few friends who has been silently consistent in my life in the last 3 years, helping me and supporting me. Souranil is a kid! Both their faces are big time challenges for an amateur photographer like me, to shoot.

Saurish LahiriSouranil De

Stay connected.

Lok Prasar Prakalpa Photography Theft – Settlement.

Let me share good news: The photo theft issue mentioned in this post is now settled. The West Bengal Government’s Department of Information and Cultural Affairs had come out with an advertisement of their scheme “Lok Prasar Prakalpa” which had used my Baul photograph in an unauthorized way.

The advertising company has compensated me with a five digit sum and an acknowledgement letter. And I retain my copyright over the photograph. 
How did this happen? I should thank you for being so active in spreading the word and helping me however possible.

I’ll explain how active social media helped me:

On the day the advertisement got published and I came to know about this, I shared it over Facebook. A few friends , who are lawyers, suggested that I take a stern legal action against them. One of them spotted this to be a golden opportunity for me to get nationally recognized.

However, I had peaceful plans. I tried my bit on the first week and blog posted about the same, that weekend. After my blog post, the Principal Secretory of the Dept. of I & CA gave me a call and promised action. Insiders told that a couple of Rajya Sabha MPs had a personal talk with the Principal Secretory himself showing concern.

I discussed it with people I came across, including photographer Nemai Ghosh, who too suggested legal action. Photographer Subir Basak, who is friends with me over Facebook, got me connected to photographer – Jayati Saha, who owns a law firm. By that time a few friends voluntarily contacted the media. Surprisingly, I know none of them personally. I thank them for their love. I contacted the lawyer suggested by Jayati and had sent the legal notice.

 

Lok Prasar Prakalpa
One of the friends showed support and dropped a message to the page. It felt very good. God bless.

 

No sooner did another incident occur than I felt, things were slowing down on this front.

I came across the BJP hoardings that conveyed festive greetings. And yes, that had one of my photographs stolen as well. I was skeptical about one singular case. I could not even think of taking on the next! I ended up doing another blog post showcasing 6 instances of my photographs being stolen and why it is shameful. That blog post got shared and translated to a few languages by Global voices online.

At this point in time, the entire media attention shifted to Bimal Nepal’s photograph being altered and used without credit by Narendra Modi’s account. SpiceyIP covered Nepal’s and my story clubbed together. That Diwali evening, someone from Editorial, ABP gave me a call and wanted to publish my story. Previously I had refused media houses (including ABP) to mention this. Incidentally, Dipanjan too is a friend over Facebook and I had gladly agreed.

 

ebela article photochuri
The ABP-Ebela news report that Dipanjan covered.

With the spread of my blog post, a lawyer based in Mumbai, Juhi Roy wanted to fight the case for free and have been an incredible support since. I was preparing to move to court with her help. But by then, my lawyer informed me, that with another reminder – the advertising agency is ready for talks.

With constant talks and negotiation from my defendant’s side, the case is finally settled on December 12, 2014.

There are adequate laws in this country. Keep faith and do not let go of your rights.

Thank you again for all the support.

Maa Manasa – The controller of snakes.

Don’t freak out when I say this : I dream of snakes at the start of every bad phase in my life. I did not tell anyone about it. Not just that, I had no clue that one of my relatives are ardent worshippers of Maa Manasa and that my mother often visits the puja (worship). Once during my second year days, I saw a silver snake cross my road and I related the story to my mother. Way later, she said – She was planning not to go to the Puja. Every time, she plans not to go, I see horrible snakes and patterns in my dreams. Neither she tells me of it nor am I follower / believer enough to remember her date of worship.

What’s creepier? Every time I decide upon something and I see snakes in my dream, they turn out to be very very sad decisions. And there has been a few occasions where I changed my decision after dreaming of snakes, things went just smooth. Might be a psychological disorder, but I am telling you what apparently it had been. When I told this to my mother (she is a strong strong believer), she laughed and said, “Good enough, you’ll know if your decisions are good enough to pursue.”.

This year, I went to the worship along with my mother for the first time.

So, who is Maa Manasa? Just another deity in the Hindu mythology? Perhaps a deity who demanded the status of a Goddess but was declined.  Averi Saha tells you more:

Manasa, monosha, monosa, manasha, manasa puja, manasa gan, ma manasa

Manasa, the goddess of snakes, is the most revered and powerful of the host of non-Aryan deities in the Hindu pantheon. Bengal, a land swept by many rivers and abounding in bogs and marshes, is the natural habitat of a variety of species of snakes. Quite understandably, therefore, Manasa is one of the most popularly worshipped folk goddesses who promises to deliver her devotees from the perils of snakebite. Thus, Manasa is also known as Bishohari or the Deliverer from Venom. She is generally worshipped on the Sankranti (the last day) of the months of Jaisthha, Asadh, Shravan and Bhadro of the Bengali calender ( mid May, June, July and August). However, there is no fixed date for the worship and she may be served on any other day of the calender. The rituals are similar to that of other  pujas  but are marked by the presence of the plant ‘fani-manasa’ and huge tumblers of milk with loads of whole bananas  in them.

Manasa Puja, Manasa gaan, Maa Manasa puja, Monosha, Manasha

Manasa owes much of her glory to the absorbing tale of Manasamangal that narrates how the deity forcibly converted a Shaivite, Chand Sadagar, to her worship and established her place among the already over-populated pantheon of Hindu gods and goddess. The tale recounts how the rich merchant Chandradhar or Chand Sadagar, an ardent devotee of Shiva, refuses to recognise Manasa’s godhead. Manasa takes revenge by drowning Chand’s seven ships at sea and killing his seven sons. Chand is determined to save his youngest son Lakhhindar while Manasa has also vowed to wreck vengeance on the  young boy. Lakhai (Lakhhindar) is stung by Kalnagini (a poisonous snake) on his wedding night and his newly-wed wife Behula, travels with her husband’s corpse, hoping for the restoration of Lakhai’s life. She succeeds by dint of her limitless courage, deep devotion and unwavering faith. She also rescues the seven drowned ships, brings back to life the seven dead sons and finally convinces Chand to offer worship to Manasa. Chand reluctantly complies and thus Manasa Puja is established in Bengal. Lakhinder and Behula are still worshipped at the same altar alongside Manasa. The Puja is sometimes characterised by Manasagaan or the recitation from parts of the Manasamangal.

 

Manasa puja, Monosha, Chand sadagar, lakkhindar, behula, the story of behula, manasa mangal kabya, monosha mongol kabyo

The compelling tale of Manasamangal presents Manasa or Padmavati as a very real, human character — wrathful, vindictive and jealous. She is not restrained, rational, mindful and sophisticated like the Aryan gods and goddesses. Contrarily, she is impulsive and capricious. Thus, the Brahminical and the non-Brahminical dichotomy reveals the great gulf in society between the rich and the poor, the learned and the illiterate, the sophisticated and the rustic which is unfortunately still very relevant and real.

Manasa mangal kabya, Monosha mongol kabyo, manasa puja, monosa pujo, manasa gaan

Manasa mangal kabya, Monosha mongol kabyo, manasa puja, monosa pujo, manasa gaan

* More photographs coming up. *

Did you know the story of Maa Manasa?

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Meghalaya – David Scott and Nongriat Trek

Harshit Mehta, Anirban Saha, Surrbhi Koul

( continued from ” Meghalaya: Color-ob” )

 

 

Which places did you visit? Did you go to the seven sister falls?

We trekked. Yes. We walked all the way from Shillong to Cherrapunjee.

 

Oh wait! ..with this health?

It was fun. Trust me. Like Harshit says, there the clouds meet the caves.

 

Tell me about it !

The first was the David Scott trek. We started walking from Mawphlang, a place very near to Shillong. From Mawphlang to Lad Mawphlang, a walk through the roads, lanes, by lanes, crossing brookes and bridges.. having wild berries when hungry. The guide’s name is Kharaw. He was amazed to know Harshit is a Gujarati, Surrbhi is from Jammu, I am a Bengali and we were close friends. He himself is an engineer cum tourist guide..

 

David Scott Trek

David Scott Trek

I knew I went with two kids. But I did not know that they’ll go all mad when they touch water. There was this one place, where we had to open our shoes and cross a brook. They both started behaving like kids, dancing and jumping around. Well, even I jumped a bit… The camera hanging from my neck was such a scaring thought!

 

David Scott Trek

 

The entire place was spotted with small waterfalls, brooks and it was such a lovely walk. It was scary at times, specially when the river which we had to cross was more than knee deep.

 

On the other thoughts, that’s normal in Dum Dum Park during monsoons. Isn’t it?

 

How else do you think I behaved like a champ?

 

David Scott Trek

 

At the end of the trek, we were greeted by the clouds.. then we came a few kilometers to Sohra, hotel Sai-e-mika. That’s Cherrapunji.

 

David Scott Trek

David Scott Trek

 

This looks interesting..

 

The next was the Nongriat trek. There you have to climb down 3000+ steps and climb up the equal number of steps. You pass through a few villages, where the people won’t talk to you. They are busy collecting and packing wood for their livelihood. I met a guy of my age, who does not know what internet is. That explains how the place is, isn’t it?

 

The guide’s name was Paradise.. The kind of excellent memory I have, I thought his name was Panorama only to be given a stern look of disgust by him !

 


Nongriat Trek, Double decker root bridge
 

All I saw was the green and how the sunlight played with it. Trust me, climbing down 3000+ steps is not an easy task.. specially when they are not really all staircases. At times they were boulders, rocks often smeared with moss which made it extremely slippery.

 


Nongriat Trek, Double decker root bridge
Nongriat Trek, Double decker root bridge

Nongriat Trek, Double decker root bridge

 

I’ll be honest. I was tired after going down 2/3rd the distance. Then came the “Nongriat” sign.. a few steps up was a food stall. While going there, we came across a family of 4. 2 are kids, the eldest being 6 year old. The young boy is too young and I presumed it was cruel for the parents to make them walk so much!

 

Harshit soon discovered that the man is Gujarati (He spoke of Thepla!) and then we discovered the lady owns a company which approached me for freelance web writing in 2010. They passed their class 12 slightly before I was born and have been travelling across India since then. Both are based in Mumbai, while the lady hails from Kolkata. I was so amazed.. Even I would want my wife to share similar interests specially travelling and photography !
The moment we parted ways, Surrbhi exclaimed (in quite a high volume) “Mujhe bhi aise husband aur aise hi Bachhe chahiye.”.

 

Nongriat Trek, Double decker root bridge

 

This trek took us through many kind of bridges: The normal ones, the wooden one, the steel string hanging one and … the naturally formed single and double decker root bridge !
As I told, it was all green !

Nongriat trek
Nongriat Trek, Double decker root bridge

Nongriat Trek, Double decker root bridge

 

Double Decker root bridge? What’s that?

 

Long back the original inhabitants of this area, tied the roots of the trees and directed it’s growth. Over the years that has formed a bridge. Now whatever little space was left on the now ‘root bridge’ is filled with stones. With age, it is now a proper safe and strong bridge. Double Decker is because it has one above another ! See I shot Surrbhi and Harshit from the 1st floor of the bridge..
Nongriat Trek, Double decker root bridge

 

We played like mad, jumped, bathed in the water fall.. Harshit could also swim ! The water was cold, but I had anyway not taken a bath in the morning cold :P

Nongriat trek

 

Nongriat Trek, Double decker root bridge

Nongriat Trek, Double decker root bridge

Nongriat Trek, Double decker root bridge

 

What about Mawlynnong? Tell me about that !

 

That’s the cleanest Asian village and I had finished shooting 32 GB of photographs. I indulged in shopping and buying wooden articles for my friends and my family.

 

But I can show you a few other photographs of people that I have shot..
Nongriat Trek, Double decker root bridge

Nongriat Trek, Double decker root bridge

Nongriat Trek, Double decker root bridge

It was a sunday and all people were dressed so beautifully and were going to the church. I wish I could photograph them. They are all so camera shy. :(

 


Nongriat Trek, Double decker root bridge
 

Hahahaha. And tell me about the caving?

Oh you should check this blogpost out – Caving in Meghalaya.

 

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