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Poor children of Bengal wish for a better world on Durga Puja

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By Arnab Mitra

Kolkata: Durga Puja, the grand festival of the Bengalis, started yesterday with Mahalaya. As per the tradition, the lazy Bengalis wake up early on the morning of ‘Mahalaya’ to the songs of Birendra Krishna Bhadra’s ‘Mahisashur Mardini’, and with the reckon of a festive flavor that will last for a week.

But does the arrival of Maa Durga bring happiness to every Bengali? Here is a NewsGram exclusive report from Kalyanbrata Sangha, in Uluberia, a place 50 kms away from Kolkata.

NewsGram spoke to the poor students of the school and their teacher and almost everyone expressed the same sentiment: “Pujo amader jonyo noy” (Puja is not for us).

Arnab Mitra: What is the essence of Puja to the children of your school?

Head Master Mintu Kumar Sapooi : Unlike their rich friends in the city, these children get very few opportunities to enjoy during the Puja. They receive new dresses every year from various organizations and we arrange for them a Puja trip to Kolkata with the help of the group Any Body Can Donate (ABCD).

2015-10-12 20.32.55Arnab Mitra: Don’t you feel sorry for these poor children?

Mintu Kumar Sapooi: No, it is the society who should feel sorry for the conditions of these children. The education is only for the rich and not for the poor. We don’t even have infrastructure in our school to give proper education to these children.

Arnab Mitra: Why do you think so? The Government’s ‘Mid Day Meal’ scheme is to attract the students to Schools.

Mintu Kumar Sapooi: To me, it is just a propaganda of the government and nothing else. My point is, do such students even come to the school to learn? I doubt, because you need to understand that the project ‘Mid Day meal’ does not have any relation with education. Such students come to school for food and not for education.

Arnab Mitra: Does Puja makes any sense to these poor children?

Mintu Kumar Sapooi: The Children know that they have a bleak future, their parents can’t pay for their higher education and bribe to get a good job. Puja, Cricket, Music, or Cinema do not make any sense to them as they are living in a hapless bourgeois society.

When NewsGram asked the students about their wish to Maa Durga, they pleaded “A better world for us”.

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Kolkata Showcases in Top 100 Global Travel Destinations

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Kolkata
Whiteways and Laidlaw Building in Kolkata. Wikimedia

Oct 2, 2017: Kolkata is featured in the top 100 travel destinations globally alongside other Indian cities namely, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, and Bengaluru, as indicated by Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index 2017.

Chennai stands out in India, other than emerging among the top 10 destinations in Asia Pacific when it comes to overnight visitor arrivals.

Travel and tourism in India is on the rise, an authority of a main travel house in the city told PTI.

Durga Puja festival in Kolkata is a major attraction for foreigners with at least two- to three-day stay, he said.

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

According to the Mastercard Global Destinations Cities Index 2017, there are no indications of the slowdown in travel and tourism in Asia Pacific with the region dominating visitor arrivals.

This is additionally affirmed with the main 10 cities in Asia Pacific destinations tracking the most noteworthy amount of global overnight visitor spending. Bringing USD 91.16 billion in travel use in 2016, Asia Pacific outpaced Europe (USD74.74 billion USD) and North America (USD55.02 billion), MasterCard said in an announcement.

Prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94

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Sindoor Khela: Bengali women play with sindoor on vijayadashami

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www.durgapujaonline.com

Sindoor Khela: It is an age old ritual that on the last day of Durga puja “Vijayadashami”, women apply sindoor/sindur on the goddess’s feet or forehead and then start smearing it to all the married women around. However, unmarried women or widows are not allowed to celebrate Sindoor Khela.

Sindoor Khela celebrates the pride that Bengali wives take in having a husband and to wish a long happy life of her better half.

The customary “Sindoor Khela” marks the end of the biggest festival of the Bengalis. It is the time when all the actresses in Kolkata get together and splash each other with the vermilion.

History of Sindoor Khela:

Sindoor Khela dates back to around 400 years. It was the time when people had just started celebrating Durga Puja. According to a famous legend, every year Maa Durga during Durga Puja, comes back to her parents place (father Giriraj and mother Menoka). She also brings her daughters (Saraswati and Lakshmi), two sons (Ganesh and Kartik) and 2 companions (Bijoya and Jaya) along with her. Maa Durga stays along with her parents for only 4 days and on Vijayadashami, she has to return to Shiva (her husband) in the far Himalayas. Before bidding the final goodbye to the Goddess, women apply sindoor on Durga’s feet and forehead and then they play with vermilion or sindoor with each other. They also pray to the Goddess for their happy and long married lives.

Photos by Saptojoy Ghosh

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Kashmere Gate Durga Puja is the 108 Years Old Annual Ritual in Delhi

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Kashmere Gate Durga Puja
Durga Puja. IANS

New Delhi, Sep 24, 2017: Kolkata might be the cynosure of Durga Puja celebrations, but not far behind is the national capital, which plays host to more than 350 pandals (marquees). And the Kashmere Gate Durga Puja has been continuing this yearly ritual for the past 108 years, making it Delhi’s oldest Puja.

Its theme has always been traditional. From maintaining the quintessential “sabeki ek-chala-thakur” (traditional one platform) goddess Durga to carrying the idol in a bullock cart for the “visarjan” (immersion), this Puja stands out against the rest.

“The bullock cart visarjan is organised only by us. No other pandals organise such a procession in the national capital,” Samarendra Bose, a committee member of the Delhi Durga Puja Samiti, told IANS.

“And the Bhog! It is also a highlight of our celebration. Every year we feed the afternoon meal to around five to six thousand people. And on Ashtami (the eighth day), the turnout crosses more than 10,000. It’s a big responsibility on our shoulders and we make sure that everything goes smoothly during the Puja,” he said.

Also Read: Devotees Offer Prayers to Goddess Durga and Observe Fast for Nine Divine Nights, Starting Today

There’s quite a history attached to this Puja. Due to the efforts of an unnamed railway employee, the first Puja was organised in 1909 at the Roshanpura Kali Mandir near Nai Sarak. From 1913 to 1946, the Puja used to be organised in a dharamshala (community hall) near Fatehpuri Mosque. Later it was shifted to the Bengali Senior Secondary School at Alipur Road near Civil Lines but the nomenclature continued unchanged.

“In the initial years, the idol used to be brought from Benaras, but from 1926, the idol began to be made in the city itself. And now it’s made within the school premises,” Bose stated.

What hasn’t changed are the customs associated with the Puja. No matter how popular theme pujas are becoming, the Kashmere Gate Durga Puja continues to be a traditional one.

“Theme idols can never reflect the charm or the beauty of a traditional one. We don’t bring the idol from CR Park or Kolkata; rather it is made inside the school premises, like the way it happens in home Pujas,” Bose pointed out.

For the five days the Puja lasts, the atmoshphere within the pandal turns into a mini Bengal. From people clad in their traditional attire to cultural programmes and, of course, Bengali’s favourite cuisine — biryani — turns it into a major draw.

“We organise cultural programmes but only the local residents participate. We don’t invite artists (like most pandals do). Also, we make sure that at least during the five days, all the functions are conducted in Bengali,” Bose said.

The charm of this Durga Puja couldn’t even be ignored by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who visited the pandal in 1969. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is also believed to have attended the celebrations in 1935.

“The priest and the dhakis (drummers) have been brought from Kolkata. We make sure that there is no dearth of bhog. After all it’s a major attraction of Kashmere Gate Durga Puja,” Bose said.

So, make sure that Kashmere Gate Puja is on the must-visit pandals list this year! (IANS)