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Kolkata: Following the India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement, the first batch of 19 families from the erstwhile Indian enclaves in Bangladesh, who had opted to stay in India, were allowed to enter West Bengal’s Cooch Behar district on Thursday.

Sixty-two people, belonging to 19 families, were greeted by the district administration at the international border check post at Changrabandha.

Cooch Behar district magistrate P Ulaganathan said the families, before their arrival, had been living in Lotamari and Gotamari enclaves in Lalmonirhat district of Bangladesh.

They are being kept at the Enclave Settlement Camp at Mekhliganj in the district. We are providing all facilities to them. Counters have been put up for biometric registration and opening of bank accounts for them,

According to the district administration, the second batch of people will arrive on November 22.

Around 980 people are likely to come to India and the formalities have to be completed by November 30.

Following the Land Boundary Agreement, Bangladesh and India exchanged 162 adversely-held enclaves on August 1.

Welcoming the families, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee assured her government will take care of them.

“I heartily welcome our brothers and sisters from ‘opar bangla‘ and wish them a very pleasant stay here. Our government will take full care of them,” Banerjee said on Facebook.

(Inputs of IANS)

(Picture Courtesy: www.newsbangladesh.com)

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Durga Puja in Bengal to showcase its cross-cultural and trans-boundary influences

Months of protests and violence in the Darjeeling hills has failed to dampen the spirit of the Nepali population in Siliguri and in state capital Kolkata

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Durga Puja in West Bengal
Durga Puja. Wikimedia
  • Durga Puja in West Bengal has evolved into a platform of its cross-cultural and trans-boundary influences 
  • Months of protests and violence in the Darjeeling hills has failed to dampen the spirit of the Nepali population in Siliguri and in state capital Kolkata
  • In Kolkata, the Nepali consulate is expected to host around 100 to 150 members of the community from different parts of Bengal on Dasain

Kolkata/Siliguri, September 22, 2017: From goddess Durga draped in traditional Nepali attire for the grand celebration of Dasain, to the resplendent White Temple of Thailand to glimpses of London and the US — Durga Puja in West Bengal is not only a showcase of the state’s artistic heritage but has also evolved into a platform of its cross-cultural and trans-boundary influences.

Geopolitical tensions notwithstanding, slices of soft diplomacy and globalisation are on show in a clutch of pandals (marquees) in the state.

Take Dasain celebrations in Siliguri, for example.

Months of protests and violence in the Darjeeling hills has failed to dampen the spirit of the Nepali population in Siliguri (located at the base of the hill) and in state capital Kolkata where they are gearing up to celebrate the Nepali version of Durga Puja with pomp and splendour.

Recognised by the splotches of vermillion, rice and curd (“tika”) on the foreheads and the prominent sprigs of barley sprouts (jamara) tucked behind one’s ear, Dasain or Vijaya Dashami — Nepal’s biggest festival — has been observed in Siliguri for 25 years by its oldest social organisation, Bhanu Bhakta Samiti.

“Dasain is celebrated with the participation of all communities: Nepali, Bengali, Marwari, Bihari and others. Everyone is welcomed and people, cutting across political party lines, join in the revelry. The Bengalis even offer ‘anjali’ (floral offerings). The Gorkhaland issue is a political one and we do not let it affect our celebrations,” Krishna Lama (Pemba) of the Samiti told IANS.

“We have been having the Durga idol since the last three years. From Sashthi (September 26), we will begin the worship of the protima (idol). She will be dressed in traditional attire and we have roped in designer Alka Sharma for the costumes. Jamara (pot with wheat sprouts) is indispensable to the festival,” Lama said.

Parents and older members of the family apply tika and place the jamara as blessings for the younger ones. The jamara also signifies “shakti”.

In Kolkata, the Nepali consulate is expected to host around 100 to 150 members of the community from different parts of Bengal on Dasain.

“Every year, for over 25 years, we have a Nepali Durga puja in front of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation building. Cultural programmes are organised and representatives of around 32 samitis (clubs) across Bengal join in,” an official of the consulate told IANS.

Also readDurga Puja Pandal Decoration Catches Cinema Style, Baahubali Palace Will Be In Cruise This Year In Kolkata

Meanwhile, the Deshapriya Park committee, which registered the highest footfall for a pandal last year with five million visitors, has in store a slice of Thailand — a popular tourist destination for travellers from east India, served well with 2.5 hour-long flights.

It has recreated the 20th century Wat Rong Khun temple (or the White Temple) located just outside Chiang Rai in northern Thailand. The detailed all-white exterior with mirror trimmings stands out in stark contrast against the grassy park lawns.

Organisers have also replicated the temple’s piece-de-resistance: A mural depicting the burning Twin Towers as Angry Birds, Michael Jackson, Spiderman and other pop culture icons look on.

At Bhowanipore 75 <https://maps.google.com/?q=Bhowanipore+75&entry=gmail&source=g> Palli puja in south Kolkata, a stone’s throw from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s residence, a 40,000 square feet area has been converted into a typical London street. The theme is aligned to Banerjee’s vision of transforming Kolkata into London.

With 2017 being the Indo-UK Year of Culture, the club has tied up with the British Council and London Sharod Utsav.

“Big Ben and Westminster will also be replicated in the area. The idol is crafted from mahogany and brass and decorated with dokra art. Post-puja we are planning to install the idol permanently in any one of the famous institutions of the UK like the British museum or University of London,” Club Secretary Subir Das said.

The Star Spangled Banner is prominent at Badamtala Asar Sangha in south Kolkata. The club is calling its celebration ‘West Wind’ in consonance with the Year of US-India Travel and Tourism Partnership.

“Visually the pandal resembles a street in a hi-tech American city at night. The design is complete with skyscrapers and multi-hued buildings and lights,” said Snehasish, one of the artistic heads. (IANS)

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Mamta Banerjee Issues Order for Stopping Durga Idol Immersions For a period of 24 Hours Due to Muharram Processions

Banerjee stated that no Durga idol immersion can be carried after 6 pm on Dashami (Sept 30) till October 1 due to Muharram processions

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Mamta Banerjee
Mamta Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal. Wikimedia
  • This year, Durga Puja and Muharram are falling on the same day
  • Banerjee stated that the immersions can be carried on October 2,3 and 4
  • BJP confirmed its arrival in the court against Banerjee’s order

West Bengal, August 24, 2017: Mamta Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal clarified that immersion of Durga idols, after the four-day festival of Durga Puja, can take place barring a period of 24 hours.

Banerjee had issued an order earlier during the day against it as this year, Durga Puja and Muharram, the day of mourning for Muslims, are falling on the same day. Her announcement led to malign reactions on social media immediately which accused her of trying to appease the minority community.

“No idol immersion after 6 pm on Dashami (Sept 30) till October 1 due to Muharram processions, immersion will resume from October 2,” Banerjee stated officially.

Mamta Banerjee
Mamta Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal clarified that immersion of Durga idols can take place barring a period of 24 hours

In the words of Mamta Banerjee, “Some people will try to create trouble on Hindu-Muslim grounds. Every religion is ours. But if there is a problem while a procession is passing a puja pandal, we will all be affected.”

ALSO READDurga Puja, Muharram peaceful, do not pay heed to rumours: Bengal Police

Muharram falls on October 1 this year. Banerjee stated that the immersions can be carried on October 2,3 and 4. The Chief Minister’s order has chances of upsetting the Hindus even though a similar order had been issued by her in 2016. However, last year’s order was stayed by the High Court of Kolkata.

In the meantime, BJP stated its arrival in the court against Banerjee’s order.

– prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025

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With Beef thrown into a Temple, Bengal Government worries as Minor Communal clashes cover the State

Ten districts of West Bengal have seen similar such communal incidents since October 2016 which is proving to be a major challenge for the state government

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(Representative image) Cows on Maheshwar Ghats, Wikimedia

Kolkata, Jan 31, 2017: A locality on the western edge of Kolkata’s Metiabruz area, Alampur remains to be in a very heated atmosphere ever since on January 23, some chunks of alleged beef were thrown into a temple. However, this Alampur incident is not a one of its kind and there have been similar cases as well. Ten districts of West Bengal have seen similar such communal incidents since October 2016 which is proving to be a major challenge for the state government.

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“I will not allow anarchy in Bengal,” said chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday. “Police is dealing with such things with a strong hand. We will soon bring a strong legislation against arson, where anyone setting fire to government or private party will be have to pay. One political party is trying to fan violence,” she said. However, Banerjee did not mention BJP in her statements.

But, other political parties gave some strong statements in context of the minor communal clashes in Bengal. “Attacks on Hindus are going on in different parts of the state. Metiabruz is the latest in the series and the administration has failed to control them,” said Sayantan Basu, state BJP secretary.

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The Congress and the Left have also claimed that the situation was “getting dangerous” in Bengal. “Trinamool Congress brought in communal politics in Bengal by appeasing communities for political gains. Now things are going out of control,” said Abdul Mannan, Congress MLA and leader of the opposition in the Assembly.

Minor communal clashes have become a regularity in West Bengal as almost ten cases similar to the Alampur case have been reported. Since October, pockets and villages in Kaliachak, Chanchol (Malda district), Jalangi (Murshidabad), Chandannagar (Hooghly), Bhagabanpur (East Midnapore), Kharagpore (West Midnapore), Hajinagar, Kanchrapara (North 24 Parganas), Sankrail, Dhulagarh (Howrah), Katwa, Jamuria and Kaksha (Burdwan) have witnessed clashes.

On December 12 and 13, clashes in Dhulagarh (26 km from Kolkata) began after Muslims took out a religious procession through the main market road in Banerjeepara neighbourhood. Hindus objected, but the procession was allowed by the police.

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Houses and shops were set ablaze which left hundreds from both communities homeless after the clash. Police arrested 65 people but the clashes continued for the next few days.

The Dhulagarh incident, unlike others before it, got political attention with BJP, Congress and CPI(M) dispatching leaders to the spot. General secretary Sitaram Yechury was a part of the CPI(M) team. In other areas political parties were prevented by police to enter after the clash.

“One hand the government is giving stipends to Imams, but creates pressure and stops a seminar on Kashmir and Balochistan in Kolkata citing that it will create communal problem. Miscreants and radicals are taking advantage of this situation,” said Amal Kumar Mukhopadhyay, political science expert and former principal of Presidency college.

prepared by Shambhavi Sinha of NewsGram. Twitter:  @shambhavispeaks