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‘Trinamool has hijacked Durga Puja celebrations’

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Kolkata: One of the biggest events in east India, the Durga Puja serves as a template for virtually all celebrations in West Bengal but in the last couple of years, the Trinamool Congress-ruled state government has “hijacked” the festival in a promotional way, says well known author Tapati Guha-Thakurta.

“They have taken it and have brought politics in a very direct, sensational and promotional way into the event,” Guha-Thakurta, a specialist on the art and cultural history of modern and contemporary India, said in an interview.

Guha-Thakurta recently launched her new book, ‘In the Name of the Goddess: The Durga Pujas of Contemporary Kolkata’, based on her decade-long research on the “urban festival” and the examination of trends of art and publicity, including interference of politics.

She says the political colour was evident earlier too, but there was “no such direct involvement in it.”

“This happened in the last couple of years. Today the face of politicians dominates. It has been hijacked by this particular party… today Mamata competes with Maa Durga and she has latched on to every festival. She runs the whole state in a festival mode,” observed Guha-Thakurta, the director and professor in history at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences.

While the five-day period of the puja is seen as a politically lean one, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has her hands full.

She embarks on a spree to inaugurate the festivities, numbering up to 250, from big to small, come rain or shine.

In fact in 2013, Banerjee was running fever as she got drenched during the launch activities, but managed to appear at innumerable puja pandals for the opening and at one she was even heard crooning a few lines of the popular Agomoni song (welcome song for the goddess) ‘Jaago Durga’ made popular by Dwijen Mukhopadhyay.

From designing motifs for puja special sarees to visiting old-age homes to the much-publicised reaching-out to Vrindavan widows during the puja, Banerjee has lent her personal touch to the mega celebration.

In contrast, there was a “deep reluctance to merge religion and politics” during the erstwhile Left Front regime, the researcher said.

“There would still be red books stalls set up during puja but there was no overt involvement while the Congress always had a direct involvement with the puja,” Guha-Thakurta said.

Through various examples in her book, Guha-Thakurta has shown how the puja has turned secular and transformed into a big-budget festival, influencing politics as well.

“And if you think of the style of politics today, the style of campaign, the style of elections, it’s very interesting to see the similarity with pandals and mikes,” she said.

“She (goddess Durga) becomes a brand icon for products, art and craft production and there is a lot that happens in her name.”

Based on field-research conducted between 2002 and 2012, the book also looks at the blurring lines between religious and secular events with the Kolkata Durga puja becoming an “acemaster event” and a template for pujas elsewhere.

She points out this year the Saraswati puja and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s birthday on January 23 were being celebrated the same way.

“One is a so-called religious event and one is a secular event but if you look at the modalities and the kinds of festivities, there is a blur between. All other secular events have taken on the festival mode,” she notes.

At the grassroots, the city opens up to the rural areas with artists, sculptors and labourers trickling in for employment during the festive season.

There is also the metamorphosis of the puja from a ritual to a public art enterprise.

“… to use the goddess as an artwork and use the pavilion as an art installation turning it into a public art enterprise,” the author added.

 

(IANS)

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Communal Harmony, Anti-terrorism Highlight of Kolkata’s Durga Puja Immersion Carnival

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Durga Puja 2015 katakhali Dhosomi
Durga Puja 2015 katakhali Dhosomi. Wikimedia

Kolkata, Oct 4, 2017: Highlighting communal harmony, railing against terrorism and bringing diverse themes like the intricacies of human mind and the spirit of freedom to the fore, 68 community Durga puja organisers paraded their award-winning idols in the West Bengal government organised carnival here on Tuesday ahead of the immersion in the Hooghly river.

The carnival, a brainchild of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, in its second year, showcased the prominent idols from the city and the adjoining districts in a colourful road show at the iconic Red Road here, amid tight security.

The three hour long event saw the puja organisers also exhibiting samples of various artistic creations used in their puja marquees on vibrantly decorated tableaux.

All the community pujas selected for the road show, were winners of Bengal’s ‘Biswa Bangla Sharad Samman’ award in various categories.

Banerjee and her lieutenants attended the event along with several celebrities from the city and foreign delegates. Representatives from England and Chile football team, who are in the city to participate in the FIFA U17 World Cup to be kicked off from Friday, were also present.

Also Read: Celebration of the Devi Shakti: Maha Navmi | Worship Goddess Siddhidhatri on the Ninth Day of Navratri 

According to the organisers, apart from the 20,000 spectators gathered on both sides of the road on occasion of the event, more than 50 lakh people all over the globe witnessed the one of a kind Durga Puja immersion carnival through live streaming in the social media.

Many of the age-old community puja organisers came up with tableaux aligned with various current affairs topics. Their floats in the parade also reflected those themes.

The Sree Bhumi Sporting Club, a major crowd puller in city’s eastern fringes, was the first off the block having won the award of ‘Serar sera’ (best of the best). With the marquee resembling the palace from blockbuster “Babubali”, the organisers decorated the immersion procession in tune with the theme.

South Kolkata’s Rajdanga Nabodoy Sangha emphasised the concept of communal harmony by portraying the peaceful co-existence of six different religions. The organisers put six people, dressed in the traditional attire of six different communities together on a tableau to emphasise that the different paths of religion actually leads to the same destination.

Yuba Moitri Kalighat, another south Kolkata puja that won the award for best branding this year, highlighted their stand against terrorism and celebrated the well being of mankind through their procession.

Tala Park Pratyay themed their tableau on the intricacies of the human mind. Beautiful fireworks marked their procession.

Meanwhile, a number of pujas headed by the representatives from the government and the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress, focused on highlighting various state government initiatives.

For instance, the Samaj Sebi Sangha celebrated the the crusade of green in their procession and rallied singing school students who represent the exuberance of youth. They also hailed Bengal government’s ‘Sabuj Sathi’ initiative that presents a girl child with the sprout of a costly plant during her birth.

Pujas like Ekdalia Evergreen and Tala Park Pratyay showcased Banerjee’s award winning ‘Kanyasree Prakalpa’ meant for the girl students.

Celebrating the natural beauty of Bengal, the puja in Salt Lake’s FD block depicted a piece of rural Bengal amid the jungle of concrete. The singers in their tableau presented the diverse folk music of Bengal.

The special lighting installation from West Bengal’s Chandannagar made the Red Road look like a land of fairy tale. Several celebrities from the Bengali film fraternity, were also seen walking with various puja processions. (IANS)

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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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Navratri 5th Day, The Tales That Speaks About Mother-Son Relationship

Goddess Skandamata, the 5th form of Goddess Durga and also the mother of the commander in chief of the devatas, Lord Kartikeya.

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Goddess Skandamata
Goddess Skandamata Source: Wikimedia Common

New Delhi, September 25, 2017: Goddess Skandamata shows up during the 5th day of the Hindu festival Navratri. The 5th form of Goddess Durga and also the mother of the commander in chief of the devatas, Lord Kartikeya.

Devi Skandamata is portrayed as a Goddess holding her infant, Lord Kartikeya, with her right arm and a lotus in her above two hands. The left arm of Devi is in a posture to grant blessings to her devotees. She has four hands, 3 eyes with a beautiful bright complexion. Skandamata is also called as Padamasani since she is portrayed in her idol being seated on a lotus flower. She is also seen with a lion as her vehicle. Goddess Skandamata is worshipped in the form of Parvati, Maheshwari and Mata Gauri.

It is strongly believed that Devi Skandamata is a Goddess of salvation, prosperity, power, and treasures.

The legend says that Tarkasur, a great demon who used to torture and massacre the people on earth wanted the immortality power. To please Lord Brahma with his devotion he went through extremely tough forfeitures. In return for his devotion, he asked Lord Brahma his blessings to make him immortal. However, Brahma denied his request, but Tarkasur acted smart and asked Brahma to give him boons which say that only the son of Lord Shiva can bring him to death since he thought that Shiva would never get married to have any children.

Nevertheless, Lord Shiva got married to Parvati and with her 5th form, Goddess Skandamata, Lord Kartikeya was born. As he grew, he came to know about the boon given by Lord Brahma to Tarkasur and that only he can kill him and bring peace to the earth.

The Gods gave Kartikeya their blessings with special powers and weapons, and he killed demon Tarkasur on the battlefield.

Devi Skandamata is the symbol of mother-son relationship.

People worship her to get immense love and affection from her as a blessing.

Here is the mantra to worship Goddess Skandamata

 

सिंघासनगता नित्यम पद्माश्रितकरद्वया |

शुभदास्तु सदा देवी स्कन्द माता यशश्विनी ||

Siṅghāsanagatā nityama padmāśritakaradvayā |

śubhadāstu sadā dēvī skanda mātā yaśaśvinī ||

 

ALSO READ: Navratri Day Four Is Dedicated to ‘Maa Kushmanda’, Goddess who Governs the Sun

Navratri is the Hindu festival that holds immense importance in Hinduism. It is believed from the tales that during the festival, Goddess Durga descends on earth. She blesses her devotees with happiness and prosperity and brings an end to the evil.

Devotees believe in worshipping and fasting for all nine days which can bring a change to their lives and make their wishes come true.

– Prepared by Abhishek Biswas of NewsGram Twitter: @Writing_desire