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The Undying City- Kolkata

I am 2000 km away from my own city, Kolkata. Really missing every bit of it. So just thought of writing this for all you people dont know about kolkata.

Let me say a few lines about my city, Kolkata. In 1690 , Job Charnok , an agent in the East India Company chose this place for the British trade settlement. The city is guarded by the Hooghly river , a distributory of the Ganges on the west , a creek on the north and by salt lakes to the east. There were three villages – Sutanuti, Gobindapur and Kalikata. These three villages were bought by the British ruler from the locales to build up the city which we call Kolkata. After the British colony was settled in India, Kolkata became the capital of British empire in India under Warren Hastings. Kolkata became the heart of India’s freedom movement during the British people.


At present Kolkata is under the jurisdiction of the Kolkata Munical Corporation, has an area of 185 sq. km. The urban agglomeration , however , has continuously expanded and as in 2006 , the urban agglomeration is spread over an area of 1750 sq. km.


Climate:


Kolkata has a tropical wet and dry climate. The monthly mean temperature ranges from 19C to 30 C. Summers are hot and humid with relief of thunder showers. Winter temperature never goes below 12 to 14 C. The rain brought by the Bay of Bengal branch of the South West monsoon lash the city between June and September. The highest rains though occurs during August. Pollution has become a major problem in the city and the raise in suspended particulate matter (SPM) level in the air has become a cause of worries among the city people.


Economy:


Kolkata has become the main business , commercial and financial hub in Eastern India and the northeastern states. It is the home to the Calcutta stock Exchange – India’s second largest bourse. It is also a major commercial and military port, and the only city in the neighboring area to have an international airport. The city saw a huge economic downfall in the early years of independence , but gradually it has grew up again.


Transport:


Public transport is provided by the Kolkata suburban railway and the Kolkata Metro as well as by the trams and buses. The suburban network is extensive and it extends into the distant suburbs. The Kolkata metro , run by the eastern Railway is the oldest Metro railways in India.


Demographics:

the residents like to call themselves Calcuttans. Kolkata has a population of more than 4.5 million people while the urban agglomeration had a population of more than 13million. Kolkata Municipal Corporation has a growth rate of 4.1% which is minimum among all the million-plus cities in India

Though Bengalis are the major population, Marwaris, and Bihari communities form a large portion of the minorities. Some of kolkata’s notable communities include Chinese, Tamils, Marwaruis, Gujaratis, Anglo-Indians, americans, Tibetans, Maharashtrans and parsis. Majorlanguage spoken are Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, english, Maithili and Bhojpuri.

According to the latest census Kolkata has a Hindu population of 77.6 % and the rest comprises of Muslim, Christian and Jains. Other minorities include Sikhs, Buddhists, Jews and Zoroastrian.


Culture:


Kolkata has long been the abode of literary , artistic and revolutionary heritage. As the former Indian capital , Kolkata was once the birthplace of modern Indian literary and artistic thoughts. Kolkatans tend to have a special appreciation for art and literature.

A characteristic feature for Kolkata is the para culture , the Bengali word for neighborhood having a strong sense of community. People here habitually indulge in adda or leisurely chat and these addas are often a session of intellectual conversation. The city has a tradition of flaunting graffiti depicting everything from outrageous slander to witty banter and limericks, caricature and propaganda.

The city has the tradition of indigenous drama or Jatra, theaters and group theaters.It has its own Bengali movie studios and the name “Tollywood” is derived from its American counterpart , Hollywood. Numerous acclaimed directors like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal sen , tapan sinha and Rwitik Ghatak to name a few have carried on their task of entertaining the crowds through their outstanding directions in films.

The city is also noted for its love for classical art form from classical dance to music shows. The city’s tradition and culture cannot be completed without the mention of the great literary staulwarts like Rabindranath Tagore, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Bibhuti Bhausan Bandyopadhyay and many more.

The food loving Kolkatans like to feast on any kind of cusine from pure Indian dishes to Mexican and Chinese, but still the key element is bhaat and macher jhol( rice and fish curry). Street foods are very popular among the people and the intake rate of junk food is highest ion Kolkata among all the metros. Western attire is very much popular among girls and women though men stick to their European attires. Men also weartraditional costumes like Punjabi and dhuti or pyajama, often on religious occasions.

The British have left , but tehy have kept their works here in the city. Once called the city of palaces , Kolkata still flaunts the huge Gothic , Baroque , Roman , Oriental anbd Indo-Islamic motifs. Victoria memorial is one the most important tourist attractions in the city. Others include the Writers Building , the GPO, National Library and the Academy of Fine Arts.

Durga Puja is the most notable religious festival in Kolkata. But excepting that Kolakatans dance to the tune of all festivals whichever religion that belongs to.

Education:


Kolkata schools are either run by the State Government or by the private organizations. There are numerous schools affiliated to the state board or the central board of education. The universities are old and some are even century old. Every year thousands of brilliant students pass out from these universities which include Presidency College, Calcutta University, Jadavpur University, West Bengal University of Technology to name a few.


Sports:


Football is the most popular game in the city, which is one the major centres of football in India. Kolata is home to top National clubs like Mohun Bagan , east Bengal , Mohammaden Sporting Club.

As in the rest of the country , Kolkatan also show their passion in cricket, and is played throughout the city in grounds and streets.

Kolkata is noted for its large stadia. The Eden Gardens is one of the only two 1lakh seat cricket stadium in the world. Salt lake Stadium – a multi-use stadium – is the world’s third highest capacity football stadium. Calcutta cricket and football club is the second oldest cricket club in the world. Kolkata has three 18 hole golf course. The Royal Calcutta Golf Club, the first golf club in the world after Britain , holds regular matches. There is also a polo ground at the Royal Calcutta Turf Club often holds polo and equestrian races. The Calcutta polo Club is the oldest polo club in the world.



Whatever I have written is just the tip of a iceberg of this Undying City. Kolkata has its own charm . Anybody will fall in love with the city with just one visit. From the street phuchkas to the attracting beauty of the Victoria Memorial , Kolkata holds her own majesty . I miss my city a lot even though I had been there just a few days ago.


Bharatanatyam: The Origin

The myth says that after the four Vedas have been created all the Gods approached Lord Brahma to create another Veda, the fifth Veda which would be readable to all including women and the lower caste. Thus Brahma ordered muni (sage) Bharatha to write the fifth Veda.

The fifth Veda or the Natya Shastra was written between the time period 220BC and 200AD. The historicity of Bharatha is questionable. Some say that the unity of text and reference of previous stanzas denote that it was written by a single person.

Natya Shastra was written taking the Patha ( words) from Rig Veda, Abhinaya (expressions) from Yajur Veda, Geeth ( music) from Sam Veda and Rasa ( vital sentiments) from Atharva Veda. On completion the Natya Shastra was propagated by Bharatha and his disciples. The Natya Shastra became the most authoritative documentation of Indian Classical dance especially for Bharatanatyam. Bharatanatyam partly owes its name to sage Bharatha. Some say the name is a combination of Bhava (expression), Raga (music) and Tala (rhythm).

dance1.jpg Bharatanatyam had been undergoing various kinds of changes over the centuries. Previously it had been the dance of the Devdasis (priestess) in South Indian temples, who were well versed in Sanskrit. They composed their performances based on the different moods of the spectators. They lived a life of celibacy and were not allowed to have a family. Later as the performers shifted from the temples to the royal courts they were renamed as Rajnartakis ( royal dancers) and degraded to the stature of being the concubines of the kings and his ministers. During the time of British rule the Devdasi tradition was totally demolished.

During the first half of 19th Century Bharatanatyam witnessed a massive change in its techniques and expressing ideas. The credit solely goes to the Tanjore quartet. Many a poets and singers also started creating different songs for such performances. The techniques have also been changed with the performers’ performance and ways of expressing. But even with massive changes Bharatanatyam still holds a foothold in expressing Hindu spiritual heritage. Though it is now being commercially used in different ways , from television commercials to fusion with Western dance, Bharatanatyam in its true essence and vigour remains a sacred ritual that is supposed to bring rasanubhava( spiritual upliftment) to the rasika ( audience) and the dancer.

 

It started with Shasthi , the Devi Bodhon(welcoming the goddess along with her four children). Ashtami eveningThis time as the myth says the Goddess arrived in a palaquin. Myth describes it that the Goddess would bring rain and depression along with her. It really started like that . Shasthi and Saptami all drenched in rain and gloomy weather,everybody thought that this year Puja will be spent watching the sky in your room. But the sun peeped its face on the third day, and to everyone’s relief. The crowds in every pandal just mentioned how eagerly everybody waited for the rain to stop.

DSC05149 Ashtami, Nabami and Dashami , the days just passed away hopping from one pandal to the other. Dashami arrives , a gloominess everywhere. The goddess will again return to Kailash , her abode, and this time on an elephant. That symbolises huge loss of crops in this year.Farewell to the goddess, farewell to all the enjoyment for these four days , farewell to the wish of coming back home.Here wishing all my readers a Suvo Bijoya .

Puja and Kolkata it seems as if these two words are inseparable. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing , if you have ever been to Kolkata during the autumn festival you’ll definitely wish to come back again.

We call it the biggest festival of the Bengalis , but is it only so? The answer is definitely “No”. Durga Puja is really a festival of all those who want to enjoy , for those who have a heart to make merry. You need not be a Hindu , you need not be a Bengali , all u need is a fun loving heart.

There are certain changes in the city when the Puja nears.

The first thing that you observe is that golden warm sunlight when you wake up in the morning.

Get up and you’ll hear those dhakis( drummer in Bengali) beating their drums. Believe me they will drive you to a land of festival and merry making.

Dhakis of Bengal

Dont think this is the end of essencing the autumn festival. Just walk a few steps out of your house and there are those huge bamboo structures waiting to be wrapped with the colourful sheets of cloth. These would become the abode of Durga Ma for the five day festival.

Big colorful hoardings add a little more to the color and vigour of this city.

Out in the markets, leave apart the shopping malls , people move from shop to shop with handful of plastic bags. Its the festival of shopping. From the Gariahat footpath to the largest and costliest shops in the city – all are filled with customers shopping for the Puja.

Puja Shopping craze

The kids running about everywhere flaunting their new toy guns and playing police and thief with their mates. One may even catch you asking for how many did you get this time. Dont take it in any other way. The little kid is just asking for the number of new dresses you got for the festival.

Its the festival of joy  in the City of joy. An undying City, Kolkata , welcomes all to get the flavor of this big magical festival.

Its the festival of coming back home.

 

WOMAN

“My daughter”

“My sister”

“My friend”

“My wife”

“My daughter-in-law”

“My mother”

That is how you call her.

As she is not physically strong and cannot go about doing heavy work as he can do, she is called the weaker sex, but why, when she had always been his source of inspiration, his strength at hard times. She is the home maker who binds her family together. She is the one who acts like the mariner’s compass when the family looses its track. If you call man, the head of the family, then the woman is the neck, she has the power to turn the head any way she likes.

Give her money, she will give you pleasure, her body .Give her status, a title, she will give you her chastity, she will give you love; she will give you your baby. That is how women had been defined in this male dominated society. But are these few words enough to describe the best creation of God. She is the one whom the child sees after opening its eyes just after birth and the last person who stands by your side at the time of your death. The so called weaker sex had been the subject of humiliation, torture, but never did she raise a voice against this, because she had been bestowed on with the power of patience, the power to absorb everything.

The society is changing, changing every hour. What is new this moment becomes old within just a blink of the eye. New beliefs, new thoughts. Economics, sociology, philosophy …………….. changing for the betterment of humankind .But has the status of women been raised from what it was in the last decade? Women are still the backward class of people who are looked down upon .They are still kept in cages, though its color has changed, the cage has attained a bigger size, but still a cage is a cage .

There are two classes of women, one who is self sufficient, does her own work, earns her living, she is self-dependent. The other class of women is the dependant ones, living on somebody. May whatever her class be women are the commodities of lust, because the society has not yet raised its idea about women from the age old belief that women are just to make love with.

Women are worshipped as the Mother Goddess. In every religion there is the mention of the women power, but why is she being pushed back then? Even today they are kept at home to be showcased next to the new imported dolls.

Why is this indifference? Why should she be loved and adored in one hand, and humiliated and embarrassed on the other?

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