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Durga clay from the forbidden land

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photo-Arnab mitra

By Arnab Mitra

Kolkata: With conch shell giving out a clarion call marking the arrival of Durga puja, the self proclaimed ‘civilized’ mass of the society seems to do a volteface with the rituals forcing them to pay a visit to the den of the sex-workers to get the clay needed for making the Durga idol.

The holy Puran directs the use of four mandatory ingredients – mud from the banks of the Ganges, urine of cow, cow dung and soil from a prostitute’s home for sculpting the idol.

photo-Arnab mitra
photo-Arnab mitra

History:

According to Hindu mythology, Mahisashur, the devil, triggered Devi Durga’s wrath with his wicked attempt to harass her in the battleground. Durga, however, vanquished Mahisashur and since then her idol is worshiped as a celebration of the victory of good over evil. In Ramayana, at the time of Akalbodhan, Lord Ram used the soil taken from a prostitute’s home name Ambalika to make Durga idol.

photo-Arnab mitra
photo-Arnab mitra

The Punya mati (sacred soil):

It is believed that when a person steps inside the home of a prostitute, he leaves behind his purity and virtue and enters into the carnal world of sin. The soil, which has retained the virtue and purity is therefore used for sculpturing the holy idol.

photo-Arnab mitra
photo-Arnab mitra

 

The custom, once initiated by Lord Rama, is followed with utmost sincerity in West Bengal whose biggest festival is the Durga Puja. Priests visit the brothels to ‘beg’ for the clay which is used as the first touch to the idol and also during the concluding ceremony.

The voice of the derived:

Feeling alienated, one sex-worker from Kolkata’s red light area lamented that despite every idol in Kolkata having clay from their ‘forbidden land’, the society does not approve of their participation in the festivities.

However, for the last three years, the land of the forbidden is blessed with the presence of the Durga idol as they have been organizing a puja in their very own campus. This year they have moved a step further as they fought a legal battle to get the permission to organize their puja in hall run by the Kolkata Municipal corporation.

 

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Kolkata’s neglected Durgas celebrate puja

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By Arnab Mitra

Kolkata: The Durbar Mahila Samanway committee’s Durga Puja was inaugurated on Sunday by the Minister of State for women and child welfare, Dr Sashi Panja. This is the third consecutive year that the sex workers organization, Durbar is organizing the Puja in Sonagachi, North Kolkata.

The inaugural ceremony was also graced by the founder of Durbar, Dr Samarjit Jena and other dignitaries.

Minister of State for women and child welfare Sashi Panja inaugurating the Durga puja organised by the sex-workers of Kolkata
Minister of State for women and child welfare Sashi Panja inaugurating the Durga puja organised by the sex-workers of Kolkata

2015-10-18 17.05.38NewsGram talked with sex worker Rita Roy and the secretary of Durbar Mahila Samanway Committee Bharati Dey, to know their views on their Durga Puja.

Arnab Mitra: How will you enjoy on these five days of Durgotsav?

Rita Roy: Like the other people in the society we will also entertain ourselves having tasty dishes, new clothes and with cultural programs. But there is a difference… our enjoyment starts and ends in this red light area and we cannot refrain from work, as every day we have to earn to serve our belly.

AM: Do you like to spend time with your family members if you get a chance?

RR: Not me, everyone likes to spend time with their family members. My family knows  everything and are very much dependent upon my earnings. But thanks to our society and its mindset, I never dared to meet them. I didn’t even see my parents’ faces in 20 years.

AM: What is the role of Durbar in improving the condition of sex workers?

RR: Dr Samarjit Jana’s struggle along with all the other sex workers of Durbar to give us a stand has helped in providing us a kind of social status. Before Durbar, sex workers were treated like dogs, but now we have our own bank, our children are going to school and we are living happily.

AM: Do you see yourself as a durga?

RR: Yes, people worship Maa Durga as she saved thousands of lives by killing Mahisashur. Similarly, every night we kill the lust of greedy men and save the lives of our sisters and daughters.

2015-10-18 16.06.55
The sex-workers had to fight a legal battle to get the permission for the puja

In an interaction with the secretary of Durbar, Bharati Dey, she said, “The sex workers are very happy with this puja.” But she is dissatisfied with the court’s verdict of not giving them permission to organize Durga Puja. “If the court won’t allow them to do puja next year, they will stay aside from organising Durga Pujo.”

On the question of ITPA Act and social respect, Bharati Dey said, “The government should immediately withdraw the ITPA Act and make prostitution legalised in India. That way, the sex workers will get their deserved social respect as they are working to serve a basic need of the society.

2015-10-18 17.03.28 (1)

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Largest Durga idol unveiled in Kolkata

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By Arnab Mitra

Kolkata: The world’s largest Durga idol was unveiled in Deshopriya Park, Kolkata on Friday with former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly and Mayor Shovandeb Chattopadhyay gracing the occasion. The puja committee claimed the height of the idol to be 88 ft.

2015-10-16 22.04.25Artist Mintu Pal, the man behind the idol said: “This has been a very exciting challenge for me and to be honest I am extremely happy with how the idol has turned out. I have hardly slept for the last three months, always imagining, working, and visualizing what the idol will look like. At times I doubted whether I would be able to put it all together in time. But today the creation stands in splendor and I am a happy man.”

The Limca Book of Records, India Book of Records, and Asia Book of Records will officially register the name of Deshopriya Park for making the largest Durga idol on Saturday. Mayor Shovondeb Chattopadhyay told NewsGram, “it is a day of prestige for the Bengalis all over the world. I congratulate Deshopriya Park for making Bengal proud in the global arena.”

 

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Prostitution: A dark world of ‘missing’ betis

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Sonagachi

By Divya Chaubey

Human life is a struggle. A struggle that starts with finding air to breathe and continues with the daily search for feeding the tummy. The day we die, it ends. People do various things to survive. People work for others; work under circumstances that they might not want to; sell their kids; sell their body and dignity with it.

Prostitution is one such job. It is never a choice made consciously. People are either forced in to it after being trafficked from one part of the world to another, or they are just born in to it with nowhere else to go.

The sad truth is, no one wants to be a prostitute, it is illegal in India, yet we have the so called ‘red light area’ in every district.

The society is not honest enough to accept this truth. With a stigma attached to it, it is not acceptable in our society, yet a big part of the population is involved in it. Girls with the tag of prostitutes are refused and disrespected in the society. The irony of it lies in the fact that at one place this society disrespects prostitutes and at the next wants their services for self-gratification. They are termed as impure and characterless but this society is the manager of this sad truth.

Men not only fulfill their sexual desires by visiting prostitutes but they also bring their anger, frustration, mental illness with them to wreak havoc on a prostitute. This is just a picture of what is done to them, every night.

There are so many stories of women who share their plight of being trapped in this dark world. Brenda Myers Powell is one of them, she revealed her story of being a prostitute for 25 years with a website. Similarly, Bharti Tapas, says that when she was 14, she was sold into slavery, beaten and forced into prostitution. The girl was quoted as saying to ABC news.

“When I arrived at the brothel, I refused to do what they told me to and they beat me and starved me for 10 days,” says the soft-spoken girl. “I thought I would rather kill myself than be forced to work as a prostitute.”

She was just a schoolgirl when she found herself in Mumbai, along with thousands of other girls who were beaten, locked in tiny cages or hidden in attics. Some were forced to have sex with 20 men a day under the watchful eyes of madams and pimps.

No girl wants to be a prostitute and never dreams of becoming one. Respect, career, marriage, children and family -this is what every normal girl wants in her life. But when no one wants this to happen, why do we have such a big prostitution web? How does this web function when no one wants to become a prostitute or is ready to give them social acceptance?

Every day we come across several news headlines of missing young girls but hardly bother or think about it. The word ‘missing’ attached to their names remains with them for whole life, which is not only a prefix to their denominations but also to their ‘missing life’. After being named as ‘missing’, these girls get the tag of ‘prostitute’ as their lives continue in the dark world.

The question is if this society needs prostitution so desperately then why the disrespect and rejection of prostitutes in the society.

You need them, you make them, you push them in this dark world, you ill-treat them and finally you make money out of them.

This must end. It is a sad truth that needs to be told. The society must make strides to accept them if it can not stop creating them forcefully. Proper laws (and execution) on human trafficking, child abuse, prostitution, rehabilitation or their kids should be make and effected.

It will take time but even in selling their dignity, they are honest about it. When will the society and state act honest and integrate them and their kids in ‘normal’ societies?

2 responses to “Prostitution: A dark world of ‘missing’ betis”

  1. Good article.Today very few people talk about this problem.I think no one is talking about this other than few NGOs.Today in every small and big cities of India there are so called Red light area.How painful it is for a girl or women to earn by selling her body.pta nahi kis majburi me ussey ek jaanwar ki Hawas ki aag bujhani Patti hai par hamara Sabhya samaj ussey Vesya kahta hai par USS aadmi ko rakhshas nahi.”Nagarbadhuwen Akbar nahi padhti” a book written by Anil yadav shows how our society and system tortures them.

    • That book is “नगर वधूएं अख़बार नही पढती” a Banaras based book.
      The problem of prostution will never be cure.It will always remain in our society.According to child and women development ministry of India there are 3 milion sex worker.35% are below 18 .Some are forced to do it but a large proportion has taken it as an proffetion because they don’t have any other work to do.3 milion are workers but a huge no of customer(abuser) are involve in it.
      It is coming during ancient time.As like poverty it will never end.
      महज कुछ मज़बुरियां रही होंगी बेशर्मी की…
      सरे बाज़ार कोइ इज्ज़त निलाम नहीं करता |

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