মহালয়া এবং আরও কিছু ছবি

I avoid crowded places, given my weak health now. But I had to give in to the demands of Saimantick. Sayan too joined in and we left for the ghats at 3:30 AM on Mahalaya. I never thought the day would turn out to be so good. I thank them from the core of my heart.

I would not be here in Kolkata for the Durga Puja. I am in desperate need of a break and I’m going to Meghalaya with Harshit and Surrbhi. Harshit should not be a new name to any friend of mine. Surrbhi is one mad girl, we met in TCS. While most of the girls we meet generally are “nyaka” (do not ask me to translate this), she is a sport! Hailing from Jammu, she was almost in tears when she realised she has to stay in Calcutta for some time now. Now we believe, she likes being in Calcutta.

Before we proceed any further, please be informed, this blog post is going to be a hotchpotch of unrelated stuff. Let’s start with Mahalaya.

Mahalaya

The Mahalaya marks the beginning of the Durga Puja in Bengal and its equivalent in the rest of India – the Navratras. This Durga Puja in Bengal is the autumn festival and is often called “Okal Bodhon” or the untimely invoking of the Goddess. This untimely invocation was done by Lord Ram (The Hero of Ramayana) seeking power from Goddess Durga. The end of Durga Puja also marks the death of the demon king Ravana and is celebrated as Dussehra primarily in northern parts of this great nation. Diwali that follows Durga Puja is celebrated as the return of Rama to Ayodhya. Diwali, however is more popular as “Kali Puja” or the worship of Goddess Kali (the war Goddess) in Bengal. If you know why Bengali’s celebrate Kali Puja during this time, do let me know.

The Mahalaya is characterised by the worship of the ancestors. In this patriarchal society, the son of the house goes all the way to the river Ganges (which is regarded holy in Hinduism) and prays for the peace of his previous 14 generations. It also marks the end of the rule of the harsh men power and marks the beginning of the female power that is caring and scaring at times ! Standing today, it is more of the photographer’s festival than anything else.

Mahalaya, Tarpan

Mahalaya, Tarpan

Square frames interest me these days. Blame instagram!
I tried some square frame, a majority of which is top shots. Do have a look:
Mahalaya, TarpanMahalaya, TarpanMahalaya, Tarpan
Mahalaya, TarpanMahalaya, TarpanMahalaya, TarpanMahalaya, TarpanMahalaya, TarpanMahalaya, Tarpan

About Narayan Pal:

Narayan Pal, Kumartuli stories

Kumartuli is a place of a million stories. One such story is of Narayan Pal. He is an idol maker by heredity. He started making idols at the age of 7 and now he is near 80 years of age. While talking to him, I could see his eyes getting wet when I wanted to know how he feels each time people buy the idols and takes it away from him.  I did not know how to react. I ended the conversation there.

Narayan Pal, Kumartuli stories

Narayan PalNarayan Pal

 

I regret not being able to shoot Kaash phool this year as well, might not get an opportunity to shoot Dhaak and Dhunuchi Dance. Well that saddens me but Meghalaya fills me with a newer happiness. If my health is okay, Meghalaya will be a fantastic trip.

I hope you liked this week’s blog post about Mahalaya and Narayan Pal. Do leave for me, your honest reviews (comments) about the photographs used or the information shared. Have a fantastic Durga Puja / Navratras ahead.

#HokKolorob : হোক কলরব।

I was dragged out of Aurobindo Bhavan, while being kicked at my lower abdomen constantly. Then, I was dragged till in front of Aurobindo Bhavan, I tried to snatch two of my friends from those hooligans, but I was kicked on my RIB CAGE with heavy boots and then while I was down, they squashed my left foot.

– Tanumay Naskar.

Tanumay is one of the young students protesting in Jadavpur University demanding a panel for an impartial probe into a recent girl molestation during their cultural fest. The VC of the university asked for police intervention. The police had come uniformed and armed with a few unidentified local boys, switched the lights off, lathi charged the students. 37 got arrested. More than 40 got admitted to the nursing home. The students allege the unidentified people are TMCP (Trinamool Congress Chatra Parishad) members. They further allege ruthless beating up and molestation of a few girls who were protesting. A few first hand descriptions from the students reduced me to tears. And that is precisely why I blog post this today, shivering in sheer disgust and extending my solidarity.

Female students are being attacked by the police (male and female police), their dresses being torn off, being dragged by the hair.

– Godhuli Bose (Link)

My morning started with a very young friend asking for help. It was around 4 AM. I sat up on my bed horrified. Not much of what he said had registered in my mind. Ritam messaged me next and explained how the students have been man handled. Soon an entire range of experiences started to unfold and all I could manage was to give Facebook updates. I felt so helpless. Many of those beaten up were in school as recently as last February. They are incredibly young and it only takes the hardest of hearts to call for such action.

Turning off the lights, seriously? Beating up students ruthlessly. So less women police when they should have been well informed that a good percentage of protesters were girls? Why involving local goons? Why breaking the camera of a reputed media house and beating the reporter? Does it not hurt the dignity of the institution?

There will be arguments and counter arguments. And arguments countering the counter arguments. There will always be a complaint of changing standards of teachers and students alike.

According to a friend of mine, the students are protesting because a person from their friend circle / union is accused of the rape. I do not see any harm in that. If they require two more people to voice their opinion to the rest of the panel, I personally would not see harm in that.

A girl had reportedly been molested by 10 boys. The VC only responded after a couple of days after the incident when the girl’s father was planning to lodge a police complaint. The VC has not yet issued a formal statement about fair investigation. The committee probing the incident is accused of having harassed the victim.

One of the agitators, Sammya Mukhopadhyay tells me

The Vice-Chancellor had previously said that speaking to the students would result in a lowering of his dignity and that it wasn’t his job.  When the authorities maintained their position, students began singing and shouting slogans in front of Aurobindo Bhavan.

I asked another student , “Why did you gherao the VC in the evening?”

Around 7-30 PM, TMCP goons entered the campus. Half an hour later, they started harassing the students physically, injuring two. It was then that the protesters gheraoed the officials.

Sammya further told,

We, the students made a human barricade to stop the police from entering. I was in front of the barricade. One of the policemen punched me in the stomach, kicked me and when I fell down they dragged me by my hair outside the premises of our movement. I have been an eye-witness and victim to this horrifying unleashing of State power on non-violent students.

Deep Sarkar, who was not there during the protest writes to me:

I do not understand where humanity has lost its way in the twisted alleys of politics. The teachers have joined the students in the protest and went to Lalbazaar to free them.

Talking about teachers, Sayantani Adhikary writes

সত্যি বলতে কি, আমরা কেউই ভাবতে পারিনি ১৬ই সেপ্টেম্বর রাতটা কী ভয়াবহ হতে চলেছে। তখন রাত সাড়ে ৯টা হবে, হঠাত এক বন্ধুর ফোন, এখনি যেতে হবে যাদবপুর ইউনিভার্সিটি, সেখানে স্টুডেন্টরা হয়ত আক্রান্ত হতে পারে আজ রাতে, কিছু পার্টির গুন্ডার হাতে ।

চেনা মুখগুলো মনে পড়ে গেল, আমার প্রাক্তন ছাত্র, আমার তুত ভাই, বন্ধুর বোন, মুখ চেনা ডিপার্টমেন্ট এর সেই মেয়েটি।… ওদেরই ফোন করলাম, কিছু ভেবে না পেয়ে। ওপার থেকে অপার কনফিডেন্স এর সাথে উত্তর এলো, “জানি তো, এখানে ওই পার্টির গুন্ডারা অনেকক্ষণ থেকে ঘুরছে, মিডিয়া আছে বলে কিছু করতে পারছেনা। চিন্তা কোর না, আমরা ঠিক আছি!পুলিশ ও আছে! এখানে ঘেরাও চলছে, আমরা কথা বলতে চাই authority র সঙ্গে “…

শোনা গেল আজ রাতে হয়ত ঝামেলা হবে না, যা হবার কাল. একটু আস্বস্ত হলাম, তবুও কেন জানি ঠিক বিশ্বাস হলো না. রাত তখন ২.১৫. আমাদের সবার আশংকা কে সত্যি প্রমান করে একের পর এক আপডেট আসতে থাকলো  facebook এ…. করুণ আবেদন, কেউ কিছু করুন, ওরা V .C কে বের করে নিয়ে গেল, এবার আক্রমণ করবে। বলতে বলতেই আলো বন্ধ করে ঝাপিয়ে পড়ল দুর্বৃত্তর দল l বার বার আবেদন আসতে লাগলো, হেল্প , মেয়েদের মারছে ছেলেরা, মলেস্ট করছে! এরই মধ্যে এক ছাত্রের মেসেজ ” জোর করে ধরে নিয়ে যাচ্ছে পুলিশ “! দেশ বিদেশ থেকে বন্ধু, ছাত্র দের মেসেজ কী খবর, কী হলো? নতুন কিছু জানলে? তুমি কোথায়? ঠিক আছো তো?? বিশ্বাস করুন এরকম হেল্পলেস কখনও মনে হয়নি নিজেকে, চারদিকে আর্তনাদ আর আমরা কেউ কিছু করতে পারছি না, অপেক্ষা করছি কখন সকাল হবে…..আর এর মধ্যে আহত, এবং অপসৃত দের আর্তনাদ গুমরে মরছে facebook এর দেয়াল এ দেয়ালে।

সকাল হলো, গেলাম ইউনিভার্সিটি চত্বরে , দেখলাম যেন রণক্ষেত্র J . U চত্বর। কাল কী ঝড় বযে গেছে বোঝা যাচ্ছে, কিছু ছেলে মেয়ে আছে, কেউ কেঁদে ফেলছে বলতে গিয়ে, কেউ চোয়াল শক্ত করে বলছে, কাল ওরা আমার জামার মধ্যে হাত ঢুকিয়ে দিয়েছিল l আমার চোয়াল শক্ত হয়ে আসে, ভাবি, এদের মত মনের জোর আর শিরদাড়া কি পাব আমরা? কখনো???…প্রশ্নগুলো সহজ, আর উত্তরও তো জানা।

I do not think I need to write more after Sayantani Ma’am. I know Tanumay for around 3 years now. He is an excellent photographer, given his age and constraints. I know Ritam for some time over Facebook. 2 of the few girls who got molested, call me “Dada”, one relation I treasure more than anything else on earth. A few in the hospital too calls me “Dada”, I know them as young and happy people. A few agitators I know, are able photographers, a few writers. For those who know me well, to them I say – I could not hold my tears.

No sensible reasoning can justify beating up younger children. No reasons might justify involving goons of an affiliated political party. To me, my teachers were the guides who had with all their care, guided me in academics and personal life. If today my own brother or my son is angry with me, I might not call a 3rd person to even make him understand, forget about beating him.

If I am the VC : My ability to communicate or care as a VC ends the very moment I decide to call the police. If I am not an able VC, I should have no right to govern an university as prestigious as Jadavpur University. I should step down.

I too would demand the resignation of the VC. For the sake of education if not anything else.

Like Sayantani Ma’am was approached for help and to spread the word, I too have been asked. Many like me were asked. It spread through the social media like a fire. Within hours, a rally was conceptualised. More than 7000 people turned up in the protest walk from JU campus till Golpark.

Jadavpur university rally, hokkolorob

Photograph: Pratyay Mukhopadhyay

I do not know how someone can be so heartless. Are the educational institutions in the hands of the illiterate and the goons? Not long ago was my Alma Mater Bengal College of Engineering and Technology, Durgapur at the verge of closing down. The authorities had wished the lecturers to distribute promotional pamphlets in different parts of the town, including the railway stations, completely disregarding the dignity of teacher-hood. The teachers who refused this, were peacefully terminated. The list includes the diamonds that once decked the crown of the institute. The teachers are on protest to get their voices heard. The college continues to run with newer teachers.

I hang my head in shame.

I decided to be a part of the movement, in spirit and in physical presence. Be there. In my limited opinion, it is time we voice ourselves fearlessly and honestly.  Today, JU @ 2 PM

 

—–

Update: 21 September 2014

I went to the rally on the 17th, the 18th and the 20th.
I never thought young people would join in, in such huge numbers. Pasting a few photographs of the same, shot by me and a few of my friends.

 

Hok kolorob, JUProtests, Jadavpur University students protest
Photograph: Anirban Saha

Hok kolorob, JUProtests, Jadavpur University students protest
Photograph: Anirban Saha


Hok kolorob, JUProtests, Jadavpur University students protest
Photograph: Sayan Biswas

Hok kolorob, JUProtests, Jadavpur University students protest
Photograph: Anirban Saha

On the 20th September rally, the organising committee was expecting a turnout of 15,000 because it was raining heavily. If we have to believe media reports, more than 120,000 people turned up cutting across various age groups and professions. Similar protests were made in Delhi and Mumbai.
I was thrilled to be a part of it, volunteered to coordinate and manage. I was not the photographer there.
Picture this: One broad way. Heavy rains. 1 lakh strong young people walking down the road. They are independent students, not politically coloured. One roared “Hok Kolorob”, a hundred thousand behind him roared “Hok Hok Hok Kolorob”. No other sound. No other word. Hok Kolorob. And you are right in the middle of it. Right in the middle.

Hok kolorob, JUProtests, Jadavpur University students protest
Photograph: Ronny Sen

Hok kolorob, JUProtests, Jadavpur University students protest
Photograph: Ronny Sen

Hok kolorob, JUProtests, Jadavpur University students protest
Photograph: Ronny Sen

Hok kolorob, JUProtests, Jadavpur University students protest
Photograph: Avinandan Ani

Hok kolorob, JUProtests, Jadavpur University students protest
Photograph: Anirban Saha
 

আগমনীর টানে।

Kumartuli photograph, agomoni

 

Undeniably an indelible proof of Man’s interminable connection with the cycle of seasons, it is that time in the journey of the earth around the sun, when true-blue skies and annoying spells of unpredictable showers, bring on that familiar feel to every Calcuttan worth his identity. Back in the countryside, the kaash flowers with their signature white head dresses and fields of sunripe harvest-ready grain have already sent out invitations to the mighty Lady well on her way here. The Goddess will once more descend onto this city, with her multi-talented offsprings in tow, transforming an indolent, laid back sleepy megapolis into a mass of energy. But for now, She is waiting for her moment, allowing humble mortal hands in incandescent lit hovels in the narrow alleys Kumartuli to mould Her into existence.

 

Kumartuli photograph, agomoni

 

She is an amazing woman- the Goddess “Mrinmoyee”- one composed of mud. Created for practical purposes, to aid the Gods, the Goddess shares similarities with the city she calls home for five hectic days. Calcutta too, was born out of need and necessity. Her prominence grew out of her requirement to replicate the power and might of a masculine empire that controlled most part of the discovered world. The Goddess was born when the Gods needed her and furnished her with the power and grandeur they themselves possessed. So when each God gave her his weapon of choice, he gave a part of himself to her. Calcutta was bestowed her grandeur brick by brick by her rulers- indigenous and colonial. Her monuments and landmarks, (as she rose to become the capital of the formidable empire in the sub-continent), are evidence of the splendour her rulers invested in her to reflect their glory.

 

Courtesy: Soumya Shankar Ghosal

 

Much like the Mother herself, Calcutta is mother to the lesser and the least. Her highrises cohabit with her slums- her gods with her mortals, her good with her evil. She is the silent witness to the sea of humanity that flock to her shores day after day. She is benevolent and malevolent at the same time. In her we exist.   Today, as the harmony of the agomonee or the welcome song for the Goddess is played out in every heartbeat, I can’t help but loving my Calcutta more. She is mother, lover and protector to us all- She is truth and beauty and she is the unassuming Goddess- who doesn’t wait for an invitation, a season or a reason to arrive. She enters your heart and fills you up with all of herself, and smiles when you feel distraught at the thought of going away from her. This is the “taan” or “attachment” you feel and that melody in your spirit? Well, it is Calcutta’s agomonee playing out in you Come home to Calcutta- welcome the Goddesses home!

 

Courtesy: www.artofbengal.com

Preeti RoychaudhuryPost written by : Preeti Roychoudhury. Professionally a teacher in Loreto House, she is one of the most dynamic and honest persons I’ve come across in recent past. An able blogger, motivator that she is, she describes herself as Educator, writer, thinker, dreamer, mind traveller, a moderate feminist, a staunch humanist, eternal learner.

কিছু ছবি, কিছু গল্প।

 

A fistful of short incidents and interactions, I had in the last couple of weeks. I hope you like them.

 

 

প্রথম 

gariahat chess players, kolkata chess players

It is quite common to see young and mid aged chess players play chess at the Gariahat crossing, just below the bridge. I came across them, shot their photograph. Their dedication towards the game, inspire me.
PS: I do not know how they concentrate with all the commotion around.

 

 

 

দ্বিতীয় 

paralympic walk

 

Paralympic walk in Kolkata: I was invited by Malavika Kanoria, a CWF volunteer to photograph the event. I never thought that this event will inspire me so much. This walk was organised to raise public awareness about the paralympic sports and India’s contribution to it. In spite of different accolades nationally and internationally, the paralympic sports person in Bengal, does not get any recognition. The ask for sponsorship and more training is a distant dream.

Pasting two more photographs from the Paralympic walk in Kolkata.
paralympic walk, paralympic walk, paralympic walk kolkata, cwf paralympic walkparalympic walk, paralympic walk, paralympic walk kolkata, cwf paralympic walk

 

 

 

 

তৃতীয় 

Kumartuli is a place of amazing people. While many other photographers were busy shooting the clay idols and their making, I was lazying around.

women idol makers, maya rani pal
maya rani pal, kumartuli, women idol makersmaya rani pal, kumartuli, women idol makers

The lady is Maya Rani Pal. One of the smallest idol making workshops in Kumartuli, the branding is done by the name of Mala Rani Pal, her daughter. She is more 70 years of age, mother of 8. All 8 are well established. She makes idols out of passion and to feel independent. The small idols are exported to Bengali communities in London and Germany. She inspires me.

 

 

 

আরও কিছু ছবি। 

I’ll end this blogpost with a few photographs I have managed to shoot in Kumartuli this year. PS: I have a new gear: the speedlight. :D

Kumartuli photographs
Kumartuli photographs
Kumartuli photographsKumartuli photographsKumartuli photographsKumartuli photographs

 

 

 

Please do leave an honest comment. Thank you.
If you want to use any photograph, please do give me a call at +91 9903055542 and ask for permission. Thank you again.