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Window Seat: Navaratri and Durga Puja

10/10/2021 at 8:37 AM

In Bengal, Tripura, Assam and Odisha the four days of Durga Puja from Saptami to Dasami  is an occasion of merrymaking, fun and fiesta for most of the people. On the other hand in Northern-India on Navaratri (9 days preceding Vijaya Dasami), people undergo severe restrictions on food.

This shows  the uniqueness  of Hinduism which survived and prospered for millennia. As Jawahar Sircar, former Culture Secretary and present Rajya Sabha member writes, … “it is this absence of a central command and a non-uniform format that actually accounted for the intrinsically tolerant and  federal structure of Hinduism. We continue to have widely different foods, languages and customs. There is a general agreement on festivals, timings and dailies but observances are quite different. It is seen in the way  Vijaya Dasami is celebrated across the country. In North-India during Vijaya Dasamis Ram’s victory over Ravan is celebrated but in Bengal, Odisha and North-East, Vijaya Dasami basically celebrates Durga’s victory over Mahisasur. In Andhra and Mysore, Vijaya Dasami  celebrates neither Ram nor Durga but the victories of the Pandavas.

This spirit of accommodation of diversity has brought millions spread across the country with continental  proportions together. Vijaya Dasami is also an occasion to celebrate this spirit of  unity among diversity.

Jayaprakash Narayan

Lok Nayak- People’s Leader. That’s what Jayaprakash Narayan (or JP) was called by his countless followers. Nayak also means hero.  Born in a river side village of Sitabadaria  in Bihar on 11 October in 1902, his college education, marriage and  journey to USA for higher studies and studies in different universities has enough drama  to make couple of feature films. He returned to India in 1929 dipped in Marxist ideology and joined Congress on the request of Jawaharlal Nehru. He joined freedom movement though he could not accept all the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi. He joined the socialist faction of Congress. Post-independence he was moving away from politics. But politics found him in late 1960s and early to mid-1970s saw Jayprakash taking a lead role in ‘people’s movement’. He was hailed as a hero. During emergency he was arrested. He dreamt of a revolution which never happened. Post-emergency, he saw his dreams being dismantled piece by piece by his own followers. When he died on in Patna on 8 October 1979, he was still a hero, albeit of a tragic hero in a play of Shakespearean dimension- torn pieces of his life’s ambition of total revolution (sampurna kranti) strewn around him. He died a lonely and torn man.

Recently historian Bimal Prasad and his daughter Sujata Prasad have published his biography titled The Dream of Revolution. Read that book to know the intimate details.

Gour and Parbati

Gour Prasad Ghose (born 1929-1994) and Parbati Ghose (1933- 2018) were the first couple of Odia show-biz. Romancing in the movies was what brought the two together. Their romance blossomed with the blooming of Odia film industry. Both of them played important role in the development of Odia film industry in terms of public acceptance and qualitative stature. The couple’s illustrious career was crowned with many awards and accolades. At the peak of their stardom, they made Odisha proud by bringing home the National Award for Regional Films for three consecutive movies – Lakshmi in 1962, Kaa in 1965, Stree in 1968.

Both of them were actors, directors and producers. After the demise of Gour Prasad Ghose, Parvati Ghose continued acting and directing films, telefilms and documentaries.

Recently their daughter Ratri Ghose-Burman has brought out a coffee table book on her illustrious parents. Titled Gour & Parvati, it documents their oeuvre and contains some rare photographs. To know more about the amazing couple and their work may surf www.gourparbati.com

Tailpiece:  Spiders

As the autumn advances, rain recedes and there is a nip in the air- on our garden large spider nets emerge. Woven with loads of patience and dexterity with soft sticky yarn- at times these are non-visible. You move on and the yarns snap and stick to your body. I look back and see the spider, at the corner of the torn web. I feel sorry for her, as I have inadvertently destroyed both her home and hearth.

I find may people, including my wife who do not like spiders. I kind of like them.

They are small, cute, and quiet and they fight with enemies of humanity. How can any sane person not like them?

About the Author:

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


This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with it.

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