Saturday, October 21, 2017

Durga Puja: A Few Glimpses into the Pujas of our Locality

Durga Puja is the greatest festivals of we Bengalis. And rightly so. From the varied design of pandels to the large idols of gods and goddesses to the colourful lighting- no other festival can match the grandeur of Durga Puja in Bengal.
This year, the unseasonal rain during Puja acted as a spoiler. Still, the pandals and the streets were teeming with people, whenever the rainfall stopped for a while. Today I'll share some pictures of Durga Puja in our locality, Andul, which is some 13 kms away from Howrah. Lets take a look and share your thoughts.

This is our own parar pujo

The area adjoining the pandal has been themed on countryside Bengal

The deity inside a local pandal

My son inside a pandal

This is the pandal of a famous Puja of our locality

The idols inside the pandal

The pandal has been made of the spare parts of automobiles

Decoration of the roof of the pandal

The famous Puja of Andul Rajbari

Another local Puja

All the photos have been clicked by me. Do share your valuable feedback. How you enjoyed your Puja days? 

Happy Festive Season to all of you.

Children from Broken Homes

"Jadidang hridayang mama, tadidang hridayang taba..."
(As long as I reside in your heart, so long will you reside in my heart).
The bride and the groom chants these mantras, and go around the sacred fire seven times. In marriage, they take the vows to be with each other until death does them apart. To be with each other not just in this lifetime, but for seven consecutive lives. 

But in recent times, we are witnessing a good many number of marriages resulting in divorce. With increasing opportunities for education, women are also availing themselves of job opportunities and earning as much as their male counterparts. With none of the partners being dependent on the other, the institution of marriage is becoming redundant. Women these days are  increasingly opting out of bitter marriages, rather than forcing themselves to compromise and to stay in a bad marriage just for the sake of financial security or in fear of the social stigma attached with the D-word. I am not against breaking up of marriages. When a relationship has gone toxic, there is no point in continuing it, for whatever reason it may be, because ultimately in the long run, it doesn't do any good to both the parties. But what about the children born out of such wedlock, that resulted in divorce ultimately? Does divorce affect the social, mental and physical health of a child?

There is no point in denying the fact that yes, to some extent, divorce does affect the child. After all, all children need the love and care of both the parents. It's natural. Let us delve deeper into the negative aspects of single-parenting.

1. Children recognize quite early in life that they belong to one sex or the other- that they are a boy or a girl. This is termed by psychologists as gender identity. According to psychology, children have a preference for imitating the behaviour and dress of their same-sex parent. As they become increasingly aware of these similarities, they conclude that they are "a boy like Daddy" or "a girl like Mummy". However, other factors have also been found to play a role in gender development, so this is only part of the total story. But then, what happens to children who are growing up in families where one of the parents is absent? Think about the single-mothers raising sons and single-fathers raising daughters.

2. Think about the children, who after reaching their adolescence, become aware of the meaning of the D-word. Adolescents react to divorce with fear, anxiety, and guilt. They become angry at the remaining parent, wondering, " What did she/he do to make my father/mother leave?" And sometimes they blame themselves: "Why doesn't he love me anymore?"

3. Research (Lemme, 1999) suggests that one lasting effect of divorce that has emerged in recent years is this: Children whose parents divorced seem to be significantly less likely to marry than those whose parents did not.

4. Think about the child who sees both parents of his/her friends to attend the parent-teacher meetings, the annual function at school or the school sports. Think about his/her sense of loss.

But this is not the whole story. Growing up in dysfunctional families- families that do not meet children's needs- can actually  harm them way more than growing up in single-parent families can do. For example, consider what it is like for children growing up in homes where the father is alcoholic. And try to imagine what it is like for youngsters who must deal with parents who suffer from serious psychological problems- problems that may cause them to act in unpredictable, abusive, or even physically threatening ways. Clearly such parents do not provide the kind of guidance, consistent control, and support children need for successful development. Research findings indicate that when these factors are lacking, children and adolescents are at increased risk for a wide range of problems, such as drug abuse, stealing, disobedience at home and at school, and overt aggression.

In such a scenario, it's far more advisable to break the marriage, than continuing it any further. May be, in that case, children will miss the love of one of the parents, but then, the other parent usually will try to compensate for that loss by trying to take the place of both the parents. Children will get a healthy atmosphere to grow up where there will not be any abusive languages or any kind of domestic violence. With time, they will gradually begin to appreciate the kind of effort that his/her single parent has put into for their proper upbringing and well-being.

Let us all hope for a better future for all our children. Children are the future of mother earth. Their well-being will ensure the well-being of this planet in future. Let them all grow up to their full potential.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Story of a Mobile

It is mid-October. The early morning air is crisp and cool, the sunlight has the colour of honey. Standing on the second-floor balcony of her house, she is fidgeting with her old mobile. It's an old model of Nokia, with beautiful sky-blue colour. This mobile has witnessed many happy moments of her life. It is privy to many sad moments too.

She opened the gallery of the mobile. A deluge of memories came gushing by. There's the picture of her soft, fair palms, adorned by Bridal mehendi. She on the day of her aiburo-bhat, a plate full of delectable dishes in front of her, ready to be eaten. She in a bright yellow saree, with brigher shade of yellow turmeric pasted on her cheeks, an entourage of aunties and friends surrounding her. She in the bright red Benarasi Saree of a bride, exchanging garlands with him. She smiling coyly at the camera, her forehead full of bright red sindur, just applied by her husband, the sacred fire being the witness. She in the bright green jardousi saree, her hand entwined in his hand, both smiling at the camera, on the day of their wedding reception. 

Then there are pictures of their honeymoon by the sea-side.

Their first Valentines Day celebration together.

First anniversary.

First Durga Puja after their marriage.

Now she opened the audio-files. He calling her whore. She recording the abusive languages to be produced to court for getting divorce from him.

The weight of these memories feels heavy on her heart, as if they are almost crushing her soul. Her heart is too tired to carry on these memories. They lie hidden somewhere in the labyrinth of her mind. The Nokia phone with it's sky-blue colour makes them re-surface in her mind, intensifying her suffering, her pain.

She tried to get rid of the phone in past six months, after they legally parted their ways. She tried an assortment of ways. The first thing she did after the divorce was to purchase a brand new Samsung mobile. She then discreetly removed the sim card from her old Nokia mobile, and inserted the same in her newly purchased one. Now the remaining task was to dispose the old mobile. On one occasion, she placed the old mobile on a bench of the Railway platform, before boarding the train. A tea-vendor patrolling the platform yelled, "Didi, you are forgetting your mobile. Look on the bench, here." "Sorry", she mumbled and placed the mobile back in her handbag. On another occasion, she tried to throw the mobile in the water of the Ganga river. While she was taking a last look at it, at the life she has left behind, somebody on the Howrah bridge thought that she had plans of committing suicide and came hurriedly to alert her. No doubt, she was deeply ashamed and had to leave the place in a hurry. There were many failed attempts after that. Now she has gave up those ill-conceived plans.

She decided to keep the mobile locked up in the farthest corner of her wardrobe. The Nokia mobile with beautiful sky-blue colour. The bitter-turned beautiful life. The life with her first love. The death of her first love.

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