Tag Archives: Society

The Homecoming

Written by: Angana Sengupta

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Source: Pixabay

Dr. Aryahi Banerjee,
Head of Research
Indian History and Culture
Michigan University
MI 48109
USA

Dear Dr. Banerjee,

We are pleased to invite you to the “International Conference on Indian Culture and History”, scheduled from the 20-26th of September 2017 in Calcutta University from 9:30 am onwards.
It is an honour and privilege to invite you as the Key Speaker of the conference on the Significance on Indian Culture and the Transitional Changes over the years. We believe that your contribution to this field is unparallel and that your speech will be of utmost benefit for all our students.
We look forward to a positive confirmation by the 20th of August 2017.

Yours sincerely,
Dr. Srikanto Mitra,
Head of Indian History and Culture
Calcutta University.

Finally the call had come.
Tickets booked. Passports taken. Bags packed. It was raining the morning Aryahi had to leave for Kolkata. It had been 10 years since she had last been to her city, to those known lanes, to the same house that once welcomed her with open arms.
“Why are you so cold ma?” asked Kuhu, her daughter. Her only solace in a world full of regrets and agony. “Nothing my love. I think it’s the rain”, lied Aryahi, while in reality there was a huge pandemonium going on in her mind. She even had the thought of leaving the flight and going back to the life she had chosen. At least no one would judge her there for her choices. But, it was too late. She had promised Kuhu a vacation to the origins she belonged. Also, she had one last unfinished business to take care of.
“Welcome to Netaji Shubhash Chandra Bose Airport. Outside temperature is around 30 degree Celsius, partly cloudy. Please collect your baggage from belt number 2…” Aryahi woke up from her dream. “We have finally reached Ma. Time to go”.
The same smell of wet soil, the same humidity and the same cacophony which Aryahi had left behind hit her back again. Tears rolled down her cheeks. After boarding the taxi and calming herself, she finally realised the reason behind feeling incomplete all these years even after she had everything. It was this city that she had missed. Its people, the yellow taxis, the riksha-walas, the traffic, the sweet shops, the Rabindrasangeet rehearsals from every second house, its celebrations and Durga Puja being round the corner, the city had decked up like a new bride as a custom every year. It was Kuhu’s first time to Kolkata.
Aryahi paid the taxi driver and entered the lane she had long left behind. After freshening up she headed straight to Calcutta University for her lecture as she hardly had time left in her hand. Kuhu tagged along with her because after the lecture got over Aryahi had promised her a city tour of Kolkata.
As she entered through those rustic gates of the University, she could see her college life literally flashing by her side. That college canteen, the smell of ‘bhaar’ tea, that guitar, those music and the constant political slogans protesting against something or the other were resonating in her ears. She could literally spend the entire day just walking by the campus and College Street. So many memories, so much of happiness and with that came back all the pain which she had once hidden within.
As her ritual Aryahi took Kuhu to the canteen, ordered ‘kochuri’ and ‘torkari’ along with a ‘bhaar’ of tea and all her tiredness just vanished. To her surprise even Kuhu did not complain even for once for being jet lagged. Might be even she was very excited to be in the city which she had only heard of and seen pictures that also after a lot of requests.
Aryahi began her speech upon the significance of Indian Historical Architectures and their symbolisms when she found a familiar face in the crowd. The face she could never forget the face that once meant the world to her; the face which was once the epitome of love for her…the face of her beloved Lolita. She stood there awestruck for five seconds not knowing what to do as she knew her tears were now not going to stop. Lolita on the other hand adorned her most astonishing smile that easily spoke about the years missed, the nights not slept and most importantly the love that was missing.
As her lecture got over, Aryahi rushed down from the stage to meet Lolita…her Lolita, but unfortunately she was surrounded by so many students and organizers that she just could not leave. Aryahi had authored a book this year itself and she had to also go for the ‘Q and A’ session. The auditorium was jam packed. Aryahi made Kuhu sit in the front row along with other professors. She had never seen a 15 year old so calm and composed. She felt proud and also scared but now was not the time to back out.
As the question and answer round began Aryahi came across a very strange question form one of the gentleman in the crowd. The question was very simple yet it hit Aryahi to her guts when she saw the face of the man. It was her father. The man who held her hands and took her through the ages of History. His question was very simple,“When will you come home Rahi?”
That moment Aryahi felt that the entire world came toppling down on her. The father, the family, the happiness, the culture, the emotions, everything that she had left ten years back was now standing just in front of her. The entire auditorium looked into the eyes of that expectant father, who had long longed the love of his only daughter, his pride who was no longer there to hold his hands.
Aryahi came down of the stage and immediately touched the feet of her father for his blessings. As she looked up this time she found her father was not standing alone. Lolita was holding his hand this time. She did not know what to say or what else to expect. To her surprise even Kuhu bent down to touch the feet of her grandfather and then Lolita.
Aryahi’s father had come to take his daughter home along with Kuhu. Ten years was a lot of time for him to realize his mistake. As Aryahi entered her lane of her house she could hear the dhaak along with the conch shell. Aryahi’s mother was standing at the door to see her daughter. Her mother hugged her and broke down in tears. This time even Aryahi could not stop herself. She hugged her, kissed her, and cried along with her. It was Lolita who picked up both the woman and along with the other took them in.

Maa Durga
Image Courtesy: Samhati Bhattacharjya

“Finally Ma Durga has come back after ten years. This year, Banerjee bari’s Puja will finally be successful. O ‘dhaki’ play the ‘dhaak’ harder. Can’t you see Ma Dugga has come home?”, was all Aryahi’s aunt could say while hugging her. This was Shashti. After 10 long years, the Banerjee family was finally celebrating Durga Puja.
Kuhu was finally happy to get a family filled with cousins, uncle, aunts and grandparents. For her everything seemed to be complete. On Dashami, the final day, when everyone was playing with vermillion, Aryahi’s father called in Lolita along with the entire family. It was time to amend something he should have done long back.
Aryahi’s father took Lolita’s hand and put it into his daughter’s hand and said “It was a mistake that I had done 10 years back by separating two people who loved each other by not realizing the fact that love sees no gender, no caste, no religion. All one wants is to love and to be loved. And I know you both have punished yourselves enough for your family, for the fear of society. But, the time has come for you guys to be together forever.”
Aryahi could not believe that this was happening. It was 10 years back that on the same day she left her family as they never realized her love for Lolita and now this Durga Puja the same family wanted to unite them forever. Aryahi looked at Kuhu. She had tears in her eyes and an enigmatic smile on her face. It was then she realized that all this while the only truth that she had hidden from her daughter and dreaded the most was already known to her.
Kuhu had found an old letter Lolita had written to Aryahi long back in college. She was then intrigued and upon doing further search she came to know about Aryahi’s past. She knew she was adopted and that is the day she started loving and respecting her mother more. She had decided come what may she would give her mother all the happiness she deserved and her happiness was Lolita.

 

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7 interesting facts about the Indian Independence

Written by: Samhati Bhattacharjya

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Source: Pixabay

India celebrated its 71st Independence Day on 15 August, 2017 with renewed enthusiasm and patriotic fervour. In 1947, this date marked the end of India’s struggle against British rule and the beginning of a new era for the country. India is truly a secular and diverse country with different religions, languages, caste, and creed living in harmony.

India has a long history to tell about itself since its freedom till now. All of us have read about the freedom fighters of our country and their horrific struggle for freedom. But, as the nation celebrates the 71st year of freedom, we thought of bringing something different to the table. Here’s a list of 7 interesting facts associated with Independence Day that may surprise you.

1. India derived its name from the River Indus, the valleys around which were the home of the first inhabitants of the country. The Sanskrit name for India is Bharat Ganarajya. Hence, it is also known as ‘Bharat’.

2. The National flag was first hoisted on August 7, 1906 at the Parsee Bagan Square in Calcutta, now Kolkata. The flag was composed of horizontal strips of red, yellow and green. The red strip at the top had eight white lotuses embossed on it in a row. The green strip had a white sun on the left and a white crescent and star on the right.

3. At present, the Indian flag has three colours: saffron, white and green. The top strip saffron stands for courage and sacrifice; the middle portion white for peace, truth, purity and green for faith, fertility and chivalry. The Ashok Chakra at the centre of the flag depicts righteousness.

4. It is said that Pingali Venkayya designed the first version of the current national flag at Bezwada in 1921. The flag was made up of two colours: red and green that used to represent the two major communities. Gandhiji suggested the addition of a white strip to represent the remaining communities of India and the spinning wheel to symbolize progress of the Nation.

5. Talking about the national flag, the Khadi Development and Village Industries Commission is the only licensed flag production and supply unit in India. As of 2008, the Dharwad based Karnataka Khadi Gramodyoga Samyukta Sangha was the sole manufacturer of the flag. The flags were earlier made with Jayadhar, a popular variety of cotton grown in Karnataka. But, Khadi Gramodyoga has recently started using Bt cotton instead of the indigenous.

6. Many people think that Hindi is the national language of our country, but that’s not true. Hind is the first official language of India.  Article 343 of the Constitution states that Hindi in Devnagari script is the official language of India. On 14 September 1949, Hindi was declared as the Official Language of the Union.

7. Although, the Bengali invocation of Jana Gana Mana was written in 1911, there was no National Anthem when India became independent on August 15, 1947. Jana Gana Mana was not considered as national anthem till 1950.

Bleeding: A boon or a curse?

Written by: Angana Sen Gupta

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Source: Google/IndianYouth

Dude why the hell is she shouting for no reason? Is she PMSing?”, “Why do you need a leave every month? How can you simply fall sick every month?”,”Dude, she is extremely cranky. I think it’s ‘that’ time of the month.”

I am sure, every girl has gone through these questions most of the times in their life, since men fail to understand that “that time of the month”, is called the menstrual cycle. And, the most important thing is that woman are taught not to speak out loud about it as it’s something that needs to be a hush-hush affair.

Periods, is an open secret that everyone is aware of because it’s the first step to bringing a new soul into this world. Women bleed because they have the capacity of holding, nurturing another human being in their womb and then giving birth to the new soul. According to the societal norms (no matter how modern is your society), a woman’s job is to give birth, but then this same society cannot accept the fact of her bleeding every month. Now, that is where the hypocrisy lies. Isn’t it?

Since a girl first gets her period, she is taught to act like a matured person, maintain a certain decency and to act normal. Now the question lies that how can you act normal by bleeding at least 4 days every month? When the pain is enormous and the blood loss is high, how can you expect someone to keep their mouth shut and not to even make the slightest of whispers, why? The society will come to know.

I remember when I first got my periods, my mother had asked me to stay away from my best friend, only because he was a guy. I was asked to be extra careful while wearing a white PT skirt because of the stains it might get. My friend was laughed on by all the boys in the class and shouted upon by a lady teacher only because she had stained her white skirt while playing basket ball. The humiliation was so much for her to take that since that day she has not touched the basket ball yet.

TABOO

Well the question is very simple. Is it only the girls’ responsibility to maintain the decorum of the society? In a co-education school, the first lesson on reproduction is taught to both the genders isn’t it? Then why do we need to shy away from such a natural thing? Why can’t parents be more open about it with their children since education begins at home? The amount of rapes and molestation is increasing in our society all thanks to this open secrecy. Society blames a woman if she is raped the reason being even she has enjoyed it then how can that be rape? Oh yes! Why don’t we do something then? Let us also try inserting objects in your private parts and claim how come that be rape? Even you received pleasure out of it, isn’t that so?

Yes, during periods a woman or a girl does act cranky because that is when the hormones in the body change. For some, the pain increases so much that even using the toilet becomes a curse. And, mind you this is not once in a while, this is the story every month. That employee who takes leave every month once is because her stomach aches to an extent where she can’t even sit. According to doctors, this is the time when a woman’s body needs maximum rest. But, how can that happen? You are expected to come to work everyday. When you want to ask for a leave, you are asked questions to an extent that you are humiliated and oh at times you also get to listen: “This is so normal. Why are you even creating a fuss about it?”

But, thankfully a few companies are now changing this so called norms. Brands like Nike, have come up with menstrual leaves, where a woman can take a paid or an unpaid leave if she is unable to come to work due to menstruation. The labor laws of Asian countries like Japan, Indonesia, North Korea and Taiwan also state that woman are entitled to paid or unpaid leaves during their menstruation cycle for one or two days. Thankfully, even a Mumbai based company Culture Machine has come up with the first day leave for the woman to help them overcome the pain of periods.

Yes, leave for woman during “those days” is still a controversial topic and can affect their performance and also been seen as sexism. But, why can’t we just take an initiative for it. You never know this might help in improving the organisation in a better way and also save woman from such stupid remarks and comments. Let’s help our girls to be more confident, secured and happy. If, we can’t reduce the pain at least we can try reducing it and not humiliating a woman for the strength she has.