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Gangetic Dolphins sighted in highly polluted pockets of Hooghly are in Danger

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Dolphins. VOA
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Kolkata March 23, 2017: Experts from Worldwide Fund for Nature-India, who mapped the abundance of and threats to Gangetic dolphins in the Hooghly, say one of the most “striking features” of the study was that the endangered mammals were sighted in highly polluted pockets of the river.

The study was conducted by observing and counting dolphins from the riverbank at specific locations along the 534-km stretch of the Hooghly in West Bengal.

The current global population of the species is between 1,200 and 1,800 individuals.

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“We sighted around 75 to 80 dolphins, between Farakka and Ganga Sagar, during the period. We know that in locations where pollution levels and man-made disturbances are high, dolphins are usually not found. However, there are some highly-polluted points such as Kolaghat and Gadiara where we sighted the mammals.

“If we take measures now, if we can reduce the level of pollution and generate awareness, then we can protect them,” Saswati Sen, State Director, WWF-India, West Bengal, told IANS on Wednesday.

Sen spotted around seven to eight dolphins with calves in Kolaghat, a town located on the banks of the Rupnarayan river in the East Midnapore district.

The organisation has initiated a dialogue with municipal corporations and panchayats to help generate awareness in these locations.

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The survey was conducted from 2012-2014 to explore the behaviour, abundance, habitat-use and potential threats of the dolphin in the lower, middle and upper stretches of the river Ganga and its tributaries in southern Bengal.

The findings were published in the Journal of Threatened Taxa in August 2016. The paper was co-authored by marine biologist Mahua Roy Chowdhury and Sangita Mitra (presently associated with National Biodiversity Authority).

Observations were made during the day-light hours at 12 stations and their adjacent river stretches (from a boat) and along river banks during the study period.

Global positioning system (GPS) was used during navigation for recording the locations of sightings around every station and adjacent water channels.

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As for threats, the study notes: “It was noticed during this study that potential threats in the dolphin habitat have an adverse impact either directly on their prey species or confine the habitat into isolated pockets.”

Some of the key concerns raised by the study are: Entanglement of the mammals in fishing gear such as nylon gill nets, availability of fish, the presence of dams and barrages in the river that prevent their migration and lead to the segregation of populations.

“Farakka Barrage on the Ganga is one major impediment in the movement of dolphins since its commissioning in 1975. Currently, there are five connecting bridges over the river Rupnarayan at Kolaghat and a series of sluice gates over river Damodar near Garchumukh obstructing the movement of the dolphins,” the study highlights.

Now the researchers plan to go for observations in stretches between two points along the river. “We plan to do it after the monsoon when the water recedes,” Sen added.

The Ganges River dolphin inhabits the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh. (IANS)

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC