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Friday, September 23, 2016

The Kite Festival Of Bengal

Not only in connection with the fiction and writings, kites are actually popular for the kite lovers. History says, Hiuen tsang initiated kite flying in India. Kite has different names in various countries - it is called Tako in Japan, Cerf volant in France, Papalote in Mexico, Vileers in South Africa, Plakwaaier in Belgium, Fung jung in China, Dutch says Vileger, Drachen in Germany, Layang-layang in Indonesia, Aquiline in Italy, Youn in Korea, Drage in Norway & Denmark, Pipas in Portugal, Saranggola in Philippines, Letuchij zmeij in Russia, Cometas in Spain, Drake in Sweden, Wan in Thailand etc. But, what's in a name! Kites are popular all over the world. On the day of Akshay Tritia of month Baishakh in Bengal and on 17th September on the day of Viswakarma puja and 'Arandhan' in Bengal household, the custom to fly kites is in vogue particularly in Kolkata. And in villages and other towns of Bengal, kite flying is like a festival on the day of 'Poush Sankranti' - the last day of Bengali month Poush. The mood of then 'Babu culture' of Bengal was blended with this festival of kites. Nabab Wajed Ali Shah came to Kolkata (then Calcutta) along with famous 'Ustads' of Lucknow who used to fly kites very well. Kite flying became popular by their activities in Kolkata.  পেটকাটি চাঁদিয়াল, ঘয়লা, ময়ুরপংখী, মুখপোড়া, বল মার্কা, চৌরঙ্গী, শতরঞ্জি - so many types of kites -  এক তে, দেড় তে, দু তে (small, medium and big) and লাটাই, লাট্টু, সুতোর লাট, ঘুড়ির প্যাঁচ, মাঞ্জা, বাদাম প্যাঁচ, ভোকাট্টা - intrusion of so many words on the sky of kites. So many colours of kites were there - red, black, blue, white, green, yellow etc and all were made of papers and thin wooden sticks. Nowadays, plastic papers occupied the place of tearable papers - which is a 'bad' evolution in my opinion. There was competition between two boys and sometimes more than that - who'll catch the stray kites. And sometimes the snatched kites even torn. Moreover, the stray kites were used to seen on the branches of mango trees or on the wire of overhead electric lines. And gradually it becomes torn. It was very common scene in Bengal. The মাঞ্জা are several kinds - dust of glasses, সাবু, sand and colour - all blended to make মাঞ্জা which is the life of flying kites. That 'হাত-মাঞ্জা' or মাঞ্জা made by hands were famous, popular and innocent too. But, the 'China Manja' of these days is very dangerous for the flying birds and human too. It is banned in Delhi after some untoward incidents. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Viswakarma Puja In Kolkata

Viswakarma Puja 2016 at Kolkata-Howrah Ferry service.

Viswakarma Puja At Serampore 2016

Now I am at Serampore where Viswakarma Puja is being observed with traditional rituals and joy. Heavy rainfall occurred at noon, but now the rift... and the sun is peeping at this moment of afternoon. The people are on the road, the crowd is growing for Durga Puja shopping.

Friday, September 2, 2016

'Sahaj Parab' - Folk Culture Festival

'Sahaj Parab' is being organised from 2nd September, 2016 to 4th September, 2016 at Nazrul Mancha, Kolkata in collaboration with Lopamudra Productions and Dohar. This year, the 'Parab' will pay homage to Baul Shah Abdul Karim to mark his birth centenary. His songs had tried to tie the two Bangla in one thread. Hence, the folk artists of Bangladesh may participate here too. On the first day, folk singer of Bangladesh and disciple of Abdul Karim - Jamaluddin Hasan Banna will perform songs. Besides, folk singer Anima Mukti and folk band "Jaler Gaan" of Bangladesh will entertain the audience. The veterans of India will participate here too. Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma will play santoor after inauguration. A documentary film on santoor, made by Pandit Shiv Kumar  Sharma will also be shown here today. On 3 September, renowned singer Shubha Mudgal will perform on stage. She will sing sant bhajan, Doha of Kabir etc. Kabiyal Asim Sarkar will perform 'Kabi gaan' on that day. On the last day, i.e. on 4th September, Wadali Brothers (Puranchand Wadali & Pyarelal Wadali) will perform Sufi songs. Folk singers of Bengal will perform here too. The items are - Baul-Fakiri songs, play of Dhak-Dhol, Srikhol etc. And the special renditions are 'Shamshan dance' (the dance of burning ghat), Maruni and Beni Putul - the folk dance of Uttar Bangla. Moreover, an exhibition on techniques of Bengal's "Alpana" will also held here. Exhibition of traditional paintings would also be an attraction here like previous years.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Poet Toru Dutt

In the year 1877, on this day, poet Toru Dutt was died. Toru Dutt was an Indian poet who wrote in English and French, and made a mark in literature in spite of her premature death. 

She remained in Calcutta till November 1869, after which, at the age of 13, she and her sister Aru traveled to France, Italy and then England by their father. She went to a school in France for the first time of her life and knew French very well during that period.
After publication of several translations and literary discussions, she published "A Sheaf Gleaned In French Fields", a volume of French poems she had translated into English, with Saptahik Sambad Press of Bhowanipore, Calcutta in 1876.

Though she loved English and French and had embraced Christianity with other members of her family, she felt drawn towards her country and it's rich heritage. She was in a hurry to put in as much work as possible to project ans interpret India's past and glorious tradition to the English-speaking world. She was proud of her Indian tradition. She was proud of India's cultural heritage, folklores, myths and legends, and it's rich classical literature. Though English by education, she was an Indian through and through. E. J. Thompson wrote about her, "Toru Dutt remains one of the most astonishing woman that ever lived fiery and unconquerable of soul. These poems are sufficient to place Toru Dutt in the small class of women who have written English verse that can stand."


"......But not because of its magnificence
Dear is the CASUARINA to my soul:
Beneath it we have played; though years 
                                            may roll,
O sweet companions, loved with love 

"And every time the music rose, - before
Mine inner vision rose a form sublime,
Thy form, O Tree, as in my happy prime
I saw thee, in my own loved native clime"

"Therefore I fain would consecrate a lay
Unto thy honor, Tree, beloved of those
Who now in blessed sleep for aye repose
Dearer than life to me, alas, were they!..."

                                   ~ Toru Dutt

        Born: 4 March 1856
        Died: 30 August 1877   

Friday, August 26, 2016

Mother Teresa Film Festival

In the year 1910, on this day, Mother Teresa was born. Mother Teresa and Kolkata or Calcutta are two names, but synonym owing to the service Mother rendered till death. To acknowledge this, a film festival on the work and life of Mother Teresa is being held at Nandan from 26th August'16 to 29th August'16. "The Fifth Word" - the first ever made animated biography film on Mother will be shown here. Apart from India - USA, England, Japan, Canada, France and Spain will share films in this festival. World premier of three new films on Mother Teresa, i.e., "Mother Teresa and Me", "Love Till It Hurts MT", and "Unexpected Encounter" will be shown on the first day. "Something Beautiful For God" (the first film made by BBC on Mother), "Mother Teresa", "Madre Teresa", "Nirmal Hridoy - Home Of The Pure Heart", "In The Name Of God's", "Poor" (Jeraldine Chaplin acted in this film, directed by Dominique Lapierre),

"Mother Teresa - The Legacy", "MT And Her World", "The Making Of A Saint", "Missionaries Of Charity", "Revelation In Kolkata", "My Karma" (Arjun Chakraborty and Moonmoon Sen acted in this film, directed by Korak Dey), "Mother Of The Universe", "Precious Love", "Seeing The Face Of Jesus", "The Living Legend", "From Saint To Sainthood", "A Call Within A Call", "All For God's Love", "The Letters" are the films to be shown in the festival. Several films among them are to be screened for the first time in the city. Not only that, some directors of these films will present in the festival to share their experiences. Pass for all, free of cost, will be distributed from Archbishop's house at Park Street (10am-7pm). The festival is being organised in collaboration with The Missionaries Of Charity, The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Calcutta, Nandan, CRS and Signis. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Silver Jubilee Of Sutanuti Utsav

In the year 1690, on this day, Job Charnok was landed in Kolkata through waterways for the first time. At that time, the place of his landing was known as Sutanuti (North Kolkata). To mark his first steps at erstwhile Sutanuti, every year Sutanuti Utsav is being organised by Sutanuti Parishad on 24th August at Nat Mandir of Sovabazar Rajbari. This year, the 25th or silver jubilee year of this festival. So, 25th Sutanuti Utsav is being inaugurated today in the city. Sri Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri will deliver speech on Mahabharat today. After that, Srikumar Mukhopadhyay will sing Puratani. On 25th, CEO of Prasar Bharati will deliver speech on heritage of Sutanuti. 'Tarja' (the musical battle of two poets) will be performed by Dulali Chitrakar and Tapan Roy will sing Bhatiyali. On 26th, inter-school competition named 'Utkarsa' (the excellence) and publication of a compilation on Kanan Debi will be held there. Function of songs would be there on 27th afternoon. On that day, a seminar named "বাঙালি কি বাঙালিয়ানা হারাচ্ছে?" (Are the Bengalees losing their own culture?) will be held where participants are Suman Mukhopadhyay, Utpal Chattopadhyay, Alapan Bandyopadhyay, Boria Majumder, Mahua Moitra, Swati Bhattacharya, Tarun Goswami etc. And "Sutanuti Bhoj" (the food fest) or Bengali Food Festival will be there on 28th - the last day.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Street Barber 

The Street Barber in the city of Kolkata. It is a very common scene at some areas of central and north Kolkata.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

70th Independence Day Celebration In Kolkata

'Azaad 70 Saal: Yaad Karo Qurbani' - a short film produced by Films
Division Of India was exhibited on 13th August'16 at Nadan-3 from 2pm
to 8pm. 13
documentaries on freedom of India were shown there. An exhibition of
paintings and sculptures named 'Freedom 2016' by 40 contemporary painters
and sculptors was inaugurated on 15th August'16 at Arabinda Institute
of Culture of Rani kuthi at 6pm. It will run upto 26th August'16 from 4pm
to 8pm. Sculptor Shekhar Das recently made a full statue of Sister
Nivedita by 'pora mati'. Yesterday, on 15th August, the inauguration
of that statue was held at Dungannon of North Ireland where Sister
Nivedita was born. And the cuisine here too... In Mani Square Mall of
Manik tala, 'Chapter-2' was organised food items comprised of
prawn-chicken-crab only for just Rs. 800/-. Whereas 'Aodh 1590' of
Salt Lake and Desh priyo Park organised Freedom Special
Kebab-Kalia-Biriyani festival yesterday.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

22 Shraban : 75th Death Anniversary Of Tagore

Today is the 75th death anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore.
'Jeebansmriti Archive' of Bhadrakali, Hooghly is working hard to
collect, compile and save important documents related to culture of
Bengal. In this connection, they recently organised an exhibition of
rare photographs of the last journey of Rabindranath. From 31 July to 3
August, they exhibited those items for all. Tagore met Sri Ma for
several occasions. Sri Ma sketched a few portraits of Rabindranath.
She made a sketch of Tagore delivering speeches in Japan on 11 June,
1916. Later, she edited this sketch in two different forms. It is the
centenary year of the said sketch.

So many programmes are being organised by HIDCO during this month of
August at Rabindra Tirtha of Kolkata. From 6/8/16 to 25/8/16 cultural
programmes are being organised there. Dwijen Mukhopadhyay, Indira,
Dancers' Guild, Manoj Murali Nayyar, Madhu bani Chattopadhyay and many
more will participate on that occasion. It is the 85th year of Bengali
feature film "Natir Puja" - directed by Rabindranath Tagore. It is the
only film directed by Tagore. On this memorable occasion, an
exhibition is being organised here. Rabindra Mela authority has been
organised a special programme of speeches, songs and recitation on
this occasion at Minerva Theatre of North Kolkata today. The poet is
being remembered today at Nirmala Burning Ghat too. At Tollygunge Club
of South Kolkata, a function would be held today at 6:30 pm where
songs created by Tagore during 1931 to 1941 will be performed. A dance
programme would also be there. So many famous dance drama of Tagore
like Chandalika, Shyama, Chitrangada, Taser Desh etc were written
along with popular songs of rainy season during this period. Renowned
singers will perform those songs at the said function this evening.

A. B.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Rath Yatra At Nalikul : 2016

Rath Yatra Festival at Nalikul, Hooghly was duly observed this evening.

Pic courtesy: Arkadeep Banerjee

A. B.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Renovation Work Of Firingi Kali Bari

Renovation work of Firingi Kali Bari, 244 Bowbazar Street, Kolkata is
going on. The picture was taken by me this evening.

A. B.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Tribute To An Artist : Banshi Chandragupta

Banshi Chandragupta was the pioneer of new cinematic art direction in
Indian scene. A very true-to-life or down-to-earth approach he applied
first for the silver screen of India in 1950. Satyajit Ray reiterated
this on many occasions.

Banshi Chandragupta came to this city in the year 1944 to become a
painter, when he met Shubho Thakur. And Banshi started his journey by
illustrating book covers, inside illustrations and teaching Hindi
language. In the year 1946, he started his career as art director in
the film 'Abhijatri' by Hemen Gupta. Banshi was the assistant of Botu
Sen in this film. Jean Renoir came to India to shoot his film 'The
River'. Banshi also worked in that film. He worked regularly for the
Bengali theatre based on Tagore's plays. But the landmark of his
career was obviously Satyajit Ray's first film "Pather Panchali" in
the year 1950. Banshi became famous for his outstanding work in
"Pather Panchali".

Arindam Saha Sardar made a film on the life of Banshi and the name of
this 50 minutes duration film is "Banshi Chandragupta". The film will
be screened on 27th June, 2016 at Nazrul Tirtha (at 5:30 pm). This
27th June is the 35th death anniversary of this legendary art
director. The film will be presented by Uttarpara Jeevansmriti and the
whole programme will be held in collaboration with HIDCO. "Art
direction in the films of then and now" - the seminar on this topic
will be participated by Hiran Mitra and Sanjoy Mukhopadhyay.

A. B.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

132nd Death Anniversary Of Kadambari Devi

Today is 21 April - 132nd Death Anniversary of Tagore's 'Natun
Bouthan' Kadambari Devi. She attempted to commit suicide by taking
overdose of opium on 19 April, 1884 and passed away just two days
later 21 April, 1884 at Jorasanko Thakur Bari.

When she died, Rabindranath was 23 and her age was 25. She was not
only Tagore's sister-in-law, she was his friend and playmate too. And
above all, within total 16 year's friendship she became the "total
support" of the poet's life. Much later, in the year 1917 the poet
wrote to another poet Amiya Chakraborty: "Once, when I was about your
age, I suffered a devastating sorrow, similar to your's now. A very
close relative of mine committed suicide, and she had been my life's
total support, right from childhood onward. And so with her unexpected
death it was as if the earth itself receded from beneath my feet, as
though the skies above me all went dark. My universe turned empty, my
zest for life departed."

Kadambari Devi helped much adolescent Rabindranath to grew as a poet
and in return the poet gave her a nickname 'Hecate' - The Greek
goddess of Moon. And Tagore dedicated more books to his 'Hey' than any
other. In his poem 'Rahur Prem' the poet confessed his love for 'Hey'
by this way: "From the very beginning of time, you have been my
partner because I am your shadow. You could better see me in your
smile and tears... You will be surprised to see me gazing on your face
in the pitch darkness when you are wrapped in a blanket of despair...

Tagore even admitted to the artist Nandalal Basu when he was in his
late seventies that it was Kadambari's eyes which lay behind the
hundreds of haunting portraits of women he painted in old age. One can
feel the presence of poet's 'Hey' in every poem and song based on
love. And for this reason, Kadambari Devi is still alive after 132nd
years of her death anniversary.

A. B.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

150th Year Of Charak Mela At Chatu Babu's Bazar

Today is Chaitra Sankranti - the last day of Bangla calendar year 1422
and the end of two-days-long worship of Lord Shiva in Bengal. It is
the tradition and heritage of this region to perform 'sannyas' in the
month of Chaitra by devotees of Lord Shiva. Yesterday was the Neel
Puja - the worship of Lord Shiva and today is the Charak - the time to
perform rituals by self-pain. Once upon a time this festival was a
phenomenon in Kolkata, in almost every pally. But, now it is happen in
limited parts of the city. It is a rumour that a king named
Sundarananda Thakur was initiated this festival. In different parts of
Bengal it is called Neel Puja, Gambhira Puja or Gajon. The essential
parts of this Charak are swings on the Charak Tree, Ban Phora
(inserting arrows on the body), walking on burning coals barefoot or
the worship of crocodile are the main items usually perform the
'sannyasis' on the Charak ground. Additional attraction is the fair of
Charak and songs of Gajon. In British period, the Charak Mela was used
to run at Beadon Square or Company Bagan. At that time, it was a very
gorgeous fair. Later, the fair shifted to Chatu Babu's bazar (Girish
Park is the nearest metro station). The famous attraction of this site
are Gajon of Lord Shiva and swings on Charak tree. And it is surely
the sample of old Kolkata.

It is the 150th year of Charak Mela at the premises of Chatu Babu's
bazar. On this occasion, several functions are being organised here.
The Gajon and Charak will be on at 3 pm - just after three hours.
Then, the fair will start there. A special brochure named "Hate
Bazare" will be published here.

A. B.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Kolkata Is Reeling Under Heat Wave

Kolkata and Bengal is reeling under heat wave from the past two
days.It is not a good sign that the state is under heat wave in April.
Hence, the meteorological office feared that May-June would be hottest
here. At this situation, the roadside water sources of the city are
busy enough, bathing early in the morning is a pleasure too in summer.

A. B.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Happy 85th Birthday Madam Suchitra Sen

Today's the 85th birthday of Suchitra Sen - the legendary actress who
departed us years ago. But still her presence is ensured by her
acting in Bengali as well as in Hindi films. When I was a kid, I used
to go cinema halls with my mother to watch 'Shilpi' or 'Sabar Upare'
devoid of any bias or admiration. It was simply a matter of
astonishment to me as the magic of silver screen made me spellbound. I
never knew who was Suchitra Sen, what was the definition of acting etc
etc. But, her presence was so impressive to me so far as I remember.
Gradually, I became adolescent and as a school-goer I used to pay more
attention to watch movies than my studies, surreptitiously. By course
of time, I became fan of Suchitra Sen. She was the ideal heroine in my
eyes. I already watched her superhit movies like Sare Chuattar,
Shilpi, Agni Pariksha, Indrani, Pathe Holo Deri, Sabar Upare, Ekti
Raat, Chaoa Paoa, Saptapadi, Saat Pake Bandha, Uttar Phalguni, Deep
Jele Jai etc.

By this time of school life, I was curious too to know about the
personal life of Suchitra Sen and her behaviour on the set. So, I
started to read 'Ultorath' and 'Prasad' - the two popular magazines
about Bengali cinema. I came to know that Madam Suchitra was very
fun-loving person, always used to deliver jokes to co-artists and
technicians on the set. She was very glamour conscious too which was
quite natural. Gradually she became the most glamorous star heroine of
that time, Her pair with Uttam Kumar became a legend. I still prefer
to watch 'Saptapadi' on TV instead of 'Smriti tuku thak' or 'Kancher
Swarga' where Suchitra's acting was superb but the romantic pair
Uttam-Suchitra was awesome.

When she quit cinema and never appeared publicly (except a few), I
treasured her youth within and was never curious to see the aged image
of Suchitra Sen. She was my only star heroine and will ever my only
star heroine.

A. B.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Flyover Collapsed In The City : Massive Tragedy

Vivekananda Flyover - a bridge under construction has been collapsed
partially this noon in the city of joy Kolkata. The incident took
place near Ganesh Talkies of Posta area. Many hapless persons
including buses and cars are feared under the debris of concrete and
metals. Primarily 10 persons are dead and many admitted to hospitals.
The rescue operation is on, but the mishap is very tragic indeed.

A. B.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

100 Years Old Shiva-Ratri Mela

'Mela Bari' of Serampore is still famous although the past glory of
this mela is now faded away...

It is the house of Khsetra Mohan Sha who came from an unknown village
of Bihar in the middle of nineteenth century and started residing at
Serampore of Hooghly district. It was the Oxford Street near railway
station of British period where he resided. But now it is known to all
as K M Sha Street (by his name).

At the beginning, he was the employee of East India Company's railway.
But, at the same time, he earned plenty of wealth by business. And he
spent many for the betterment of Hindus. Inspired by the Hindu Mela at
the house of Duncan saheb at Belgachia, Khsetra Mohan started Krishi
Shilpa Pradarshani O Mela (Exhibition cum fair of agriculture and art)
named under Shri Shri Shiv Shankar Jiu on the auspicious day of
Shiv-Ratri in the year 1897 in the premises of temples founded by him
in front of his residence at Serampore. Moreover, he founded a school,
library and free dispensary for the poor. But, much before these
activities, more than hundred poor people used to fed at his residence
daily. By this way, he became famous for his generous activities.
Inside the Mela Bari, a big temple and Nat Mandir is there where the
Sun God of Astadhatu, Shiv Linga of brass, goddess Kali of
Kastipathar, goddess Annapurna and Narayana made of stone are also in
the temple being worshipped regularly. Separate rooms are there for
each god and goddesses. But, the beams of ceiling are now in a poor
condition. The floor made of Italian marbles are now almost broken by
the time passed. The main door made of sagoon wood with design by
metal and copper too in a poor condition.

The Mela of Shiv-Ratri was started on 7 March and will run till 6
April of this year. This one month long fair has past glory I've seen
even in my childhood. Nahabat sehnai was there at the top of entrance,
then the exhibition of noteworthy agricultural products of nearby
villages which used to astonish us. At left, each year a new clay
model of Lord Shiva & Durga were exhibited there for the viewers. At
the right, a long hall where art work of students of local schools and
individuals were there - paintings, drawings and models of houses etc
used to decorate the wall and tables of the hall. At the end, tusks of
elephants were exhibited proudly, I remember. We used to exit at the
other end of that hall and used to enjoy the fair... the stalls packed
with toys for all ages attracted us most. The elders and young girls
still now like the stalls of utensils, kitchen appliances and
cosmetics and bungles, chains, lockets, earrings, bindis etc. Various
delicious foods like ghoogni, phuchka, papad, jilipi, badam (nuts)
bhaja, bhelpuri, coolphi, ice cream etc. were found earlier but now I
found only a few of them.

The stalls I just mentioned are still there at the fair, but the hall
lost its charm. Only the drawings and paintings made by the students
of local two drawing school are there, which is a bit monotonous.
The physical condition of that hall is very poor now.

Once, the three sides of this fair ground were used to glorify the
fame of this mela with assembles of clay models depicted various
episodes of epic Ramayana and Mahabharata. The time has snatched those
days and we lost these idols. I've seen last Saturday only a few of
them kept scattered. The scene was painful for me and I became
nostalgic. On the main road, just outside the mela bari a section of
that house is still there where in my childhood I used to watch puppet
play (rod puppet). The whole atmosphere was then really conducive to
be a village fair in true sense.

I visited the place last weekend and found that bright lights in the
evening failed to hide the dilapidated condition of the site. I came
to know that the Sha family has proposed the local municipal
authorities to keep this heritage of British period and they're
considering the matter.

A. B.