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Window Seat: Kali Puja

15/11/2020 at 7:00 AM

Dr Mrinal Chatterjee

Kali Puja, also known as Shyama Puja is dedicated to the goddess Kali or Shyama (literally meaning dark). It is celebrated on the new moon day (Dipannita Amavasya) of the month of Kartik especially in the regions of Bengal, Bihar (Mithila), Odisha, Assam, and part of Maharashtra.

While the Hindu Bengalis, Rajbongshis, Odias, Assamese and Maithils worship the goddess Kali on this day, the rest of India and Nepal worships goddess Lakshmi on Diwali.

Mark the unique plurality of India. Half of the country worship the Goddess who ferociously slays the demon and even drinks his blood, while half on that very day worships the goddess who brings prosperity. Both the goddess represent two different sects- Shaktism and Vaishnavism. And they are the same entity.

As per the Kalikula sect of Shaktism, the supreme celestial Mother goddess Mahakali took 10 manifestations to slay evils on the Earth, which are collectively known as Dasa Mahavidyas. Each Mahavidya has a day of incarnation in the Hindu calendar of 12 months. Out of those 10 Mahavidyas, the last goddess is Kamalatmika, whose day of incarnation is celebrated as Kamalatmika Jayanti, falls on the day of Deepavali. She is often recognized as ‘Tantrik Lakshmi’.

Photo: Utsav Basu. Location: Kumartuli, Kolkata

Moulana Abul Kalam Azad

Indian celebrated National Education Day on November 11, the birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad – a great scholar, Islamic theologian, freedom fighter, politician and a firm believer in the unity of India.  He was the first Education Minister of independent India. He remained Education minister from 15 August 1947 until 2 February 1958. He died on 22 February 1958. Every year since 2008, November 11 is celebrated as education day to commemorate his  birth anniversary.

Born in Mecca in 1888, his family moved to Kolkata in 1890. He was self-taught and never went to school. He started teaching at the age of 16 and continued his scholarly pursuits even while in the thick of national politics. He wrote poetry, translated the Quran and authored several books.

Young Azad was influenced by revolutionaries and was deeply impressed by the writings of  Sri Aurobindo. In 1908, he visited Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Turkey and was pained to find that while in these countries Muslims were fighting for freedom and democracy; Indian Muslims were favouring the British, keeping away from the nationalist movement. To change the mindset, he started a journal, Al-Hilal (meaning Crescent moon) in July 1912. he used as a weapon to attack and question British policies. The publication gained immense popularity among the masses. It became a mile stone in Urdu journalism. British administration banned it in 1914.

Undeterred by this move, Azad soon started another weekly, Al-Balagh (which means Delivery of a Massage; Another Name for the Quran). It ran until he was externed under Defence of India Regulations in 1916. Despite censoring, he found ways to rebel against British activities through the power of his pen.

He joined the Indian National Congress and became its president in 1923 at the age of 35. He was the youngest President of Congress. He always advocated for Hindu-Muslim unity and opposed the division of the country.

As first education minister of the country, he advocated for free and compulsory primary education for all children up to the age of 14 as he believed it was the right of all citizens. Later, he went on to establish the Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi and contributed to the setting up of the IITs. He was also one of the brains behind the University Grants Commission, India’s higher education regulator, and played a key role in the establishment of other educational institutions.

The Bengal Conundrum

Sambit Pal, my student turned colleague at the Dhenkanal campus of Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) has covered Bengal politics as a journalist for over a decade. His maiden book on contemporary Bengal politics has just been published by Bloomsbury.

 It maps Bengal’s political history from late 1980s till the present times. This is the period of the rise of right wing Hindutva-focused BJP.    

From being inconsequential to turning into a dominant force – the journey of BJP came full circle in Bengal 2019 LokSabha election. The fish and debate-loving ‘Left progressive’ Bengali seemed to have finally shifted their loyalty to the BJP. So how did this shift take place and what did it take for the BJP, largely viewed as a ‘North-Indian party’ to become such a ‘force’ in the East?

The Bengal Conundrum engages with these questions and examines  how this shift to the right might change Bengal politics forever.

If you are interested in Bengal Politics or interested to know why and how BJP as a political party is gaining traction- read this book.

A nice afternoon story

A boy in college loves a girl. He writes her a love letter. “I love you. If you love me, then tomorrow come wearing a red dress.”

He keeps that love letter in a book and gives it to her.

On the appointed day she comes wearing a yellow color dress and returns his book back.

Seeing the girl in yellow dress, the boy feels very bad. He goes into depression, takes to drugs and shifted to a rehab centre.

Over a period of time, that girl gets married.

After a few years ……

While cleaning his house, the boy finds the book, the girl had returned. Out of curiosity he glances through it … and a small folded piece of paper falls out …. It was a note from the girl.

In that note was written: “I like you too,  …but first meet my family …and ask for my hand. Even if my family doesn’t accept you, I would still marry you  …. And yes … I am a poor girl …I do not have a Red dress …SORRY …!!!

After reading this, the boy held his head in disbelief…

Moral of the Story: Open the subject books at least once in a year.

Note for oldies: Now you do not sit filtering all the old books. Your time has passed. Look after your grand-children’s studies.

Or…

Breathlessness, Palpitation, moist eyes… you are either in love or in Delhi.. or infected by Corona.  

(Courtesy: Social Media)

***

Journalist-turned-media academician Mrinal Chatterjee lives in Dhenkanal, Odisha. He also writes fiction and translates poetry.

mrinalchatterjeeiimc@gmail.com

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