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Punorutthan: Reviving the long lost sheen of Bengali

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By Arnab Mitra and Sreyashi Mazumdar

With globalization taking its course, vernacular languages have somewhere down the line been left behind, bearing a laggard status. Despite the end of colonialism, there is a prevalence of neo-colonial essence essentially in the form of globalization with English language holding a special stature.

Picture credit: Madanmohan Samanta

In India, vernacular languages have plummeted, especially when Indians are striving hard to get into the popular culture essentially shaped by a westernized approach. According to a national survey report in 2013, there will be no place for vernacular languages in India within a stint of 50 years.

West Bengal is one of those states which has been beleaguered by the surge of globalization. Bengali language’s preponderance has taken a downward trend owing to the onset of English as a popular and widely accepted language.

In his pursuit to rekindle the prevalence of Bengali in West Bengal, Rajib Gupta, maternal grandson of the legendary musician Pankaj Mullick, and his wife Jhinuk Gupta have been trying to enliven the status of Bengali language through music among the locals of Bengal.

In an encounter with the Gupta duo, NewsGram tried to unravel the duo’s intent behind their novel project ‘Punorutthan’ –an attempt at instilling the language’s lost flavor.

Arnab Mitra: Why did you take the initiative to revive Bengali language and culture?

Rajib Gupta: In the year 1952, five people dedicated their lives to propel Bengali language and culture. And look at us, we Bengalis are neglecting our language, it is like forsaking your own mother. Rabindranath said, “A race cannot move uprooting their roots”.

It is an alarming situation wherein you don’t learn your language properly, and you become a Benglish. I am a music composer and my wife is a singer, so we have gone through situations wherein people found it difficult to apprehend the Bengali language.

Therefore, to save our own culture and language, we took this initiative.

03 Jhinuk & Rajib practising for programme
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Jhinuk Gupta: We run an academy called Pankaj Mullik Music and Art Foundation. I observed that the students found it difficult to understand simple Bengali words and they preferred rewriting it in English. The level of degradation in terms of the language’s popularity made us start off a project like this.

Arnab Mitra: What is your concept behind this project ‘Punorutthan’?

Rajib Gupta: The project is at its initial stage and I am grateful to Dr. Kallol Guha for his huge support. We are planning to make a short film, which will be based on music, and as you know movies always have a wider reach and people can watch them through different mediums. The main theme of this movie is to make people understand the importance of Bengali language.

Jhinuk Gupta: We are working hard to finish our project before Durga Puja. Till now we have composed five songs and have planned to release the film on Panchami.

Arnab Mitra: Do you think that Punorutthan’s attempt at reviving Bengali language will end up garnering positive results?

Rajib Gupta: I can’t give my opinion on this as of now because it all depends on the people of Bengal. But as a Bengali, I think it is my duty to revive the essence of our own language and to rekindle people’s reverence towards it.

Jhinuk Gupta: Punorutthan of Bengali language will only be possible when the Bengalis start to respect their own language and culture.

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Copyright 2015 NewsGram

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All You Need to Know About the Sport of Jallikattu

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sports, which poses a risk of life for the participants

banned bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu
Jallikattu sport of Tamil Nadu. Wikimedia

By Ruchika Verma

  • Jallikattu is a traditional Tamil sport
  • The sport involves bulls and humans, the latter trying to control the former
  • The sport was banned in 2014, which created lots of controversies

Jallikattu or Sallikkattu, also known as ‘eru thazhuvuthal’ and ‘manju virattu’ traditionally, was in news last year, around this time due to the ban imposed on it by the Supreme Court. The ban was much hyped and gathered a plethora of media’s attention.

Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons
Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons

Jallikattu ban has also garnered lots of political attention due to the involvement of Tamil Nadu and Central governments. The issue is much hyped due to the political context involved in it too.

What exactly is Jallikattu? 

Jallikattu is a traditional sport and spectacle in which bulls of the Pulikulam or Kangayam breeds are released into a crowd of people, and multiple human participants attempt to control the bulls while they try to escape.

Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr
Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr

Jallikattu is practised in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations. The districts, Madurai, Thanjavur, and Salem are the most famous for conducting Jallikattu. The game dates back to Tamil classical period, which went back to 400 BC. Ancient Tamil Sangam literature described the practice as ‘Yeru thazhuvuthal’ which literally means “bull embracing.” With time the sport has become synonymous with valour and bravery.

Also Read: Tamil Nadu legalises Jallikattu with a New Law

What happens in Jallikattu and how?

The bulls participating in the game are all lined up behind a narrow gate and released one by one into the arena. The participants have to either control the bull by holding its hump or clutch away from a flag attached to the horns. Owners of the bulls often announce prizes for the man who gets the hold of their bull.

The objective of the game is not to kill or overpower the bull, but to hold onto their hump for a certain amount of time or distance.

The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull.
The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull.

There are three variants to the game. First, when the bulls are released from an enclosed area. Second, when the bull is directly released into the open ground. And third, when the bull is tied to a rope as the only restriction, and a team of 7-9 members has to untie the prize from the bull’s horns in 30 minutes of the time period.

The gate through which bulls enter the arena is called Vadi Vasai. The bulls charge at the men standing most near to the gate. One of the rules also says that a participant is only allowed to hold bull’s hump and no other body part. The other rules vary from region to region.

Also Read: Animal rights organisations challenge new law on Jallikattu

Jallikattu Ban and Controversy

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sport, which poses a risk of life for the participants.

In 2014, The Supreme Court banned the sport, endorsing the activists’ concerns according to which, Jallikattu is not only cruelty towards the animal, but also poses a threat to humans. According to the data provided, between 2010 and 2014, 17 people were killed and approximately 1000 were injured during Jallikatu.

The Jallikattu ban was protests by many Tamilians.
The Jallikattu ban was protested by many Tamilians.

However, the ban invited a lot of protests. Many Tamil communities called this ban a violation of their culture and tradition.

In 2017, many lawyers plead to remove the ban which was rejected by the court. After requests and arguments of Tamil communities, central government reversed the ban, however, after Supreme Court struck the order down, the ban was imposed again. However, the government of Tamil Nadu sanctioned the sport and brought it back into the practice.