By Arnab Mitra & Nithin Sridhar
Kolkata: The bold attempt by the transgender community to set up a Durga idol on the concept of ‘Ardhanariswar’ drew high acclamation not only in West Bengal but also across India. The unique move was supported by Pratay trust and Udyami Yuvak Brinda club in north Kolkata during this year’s Durga Puja.
In a candid interview to NewsGram, artist China Pal laid bare her thoughts to Arnab Mitra.
NewsGram: What influenced you to take up the ‘transgender Durga idol’?
China Pal: As an artist we always love to conjure up fresh and innovative ideas. So when Pratay trust and members of Udyami Yuvak Brinda club approached me with their concept, I was enthralled, as the idea facilitated me to showcase my work at the highest level. I felt this was the first time in my 30-year career that I got something that will give me utmost satisfaction.
NewsGram: The transgender community is still looked down upon in our society, so, did this affect your decision making?
China Pal: Any art form acts as a mirror to the society. Happening in the society is obviously reflected in the works of an artist. Through my humble effort I want to make a bold protest against the conformist views of the society.
If Hindu mythology gladly accepts ‘Ardhanariswar’ so why can’t people who use smart phones nowadays give recognition to the concept.
Durga puja is a celebration of how an evil was vanquished. Through my works, I want to urge everyone to defeat the traditional custom of disrespecting the transgender community and the prostitutes. We must not forget that we all are creations of God and are a product of the society where we live in.
China Pal: It is obvious that criticisms and art are synonymous. Works will always draw flak from a quarter of the society. However that should not deter an artist. Moreover, an artist is above religion, customs and partisan spirit. Relentless support from Pratay trust, Bhanu Naskar (a transgender) and from well wishers encouraged me in my venture. I highly appreciate their support.
NewsGram: What are your chances to bag an award?
China Pal: It does feel good to get an award but the best prize that an artist can get is the appreciation of the work.
Ardhanriswar: The concept of cosmic union
The artist has attempted to capture the essence of being transgender through the depiction of Durga as Ardhanarishwar. But, it must be pointed out that, the concept of Ardhanarishwar as such is not related to transgenders. Ardhanarishwar is about the cosmic unity of Shiva-Shakti, the Existence and motion, the Consciousness and action, and it has nothing to do with transgenders who are considered as Tritiya Prakriti.
Yet, the Ardhanarishwar aspect of God brings out a vital truth of life that every person, irrespective of their gender, has both Shiva tattva and Shakti Tattva (essence of both Shiva and Shakti) inside them. This is true for transgenders as well.
Ardhanarishwar depicts that, God who is beyond gender, is also the abode of all genders. Therefore, Transgenders must have equal respect in society as anybody else, because ultimately, God is in the hearts of everyone- Man, Woman, and a Transgender.