Monday, September 26, 2011

Mahalaya | মহালয়া

Mahalaya (Bn: মহালয়া Mōhalōya) marks the end of the “Pitri Pōkkho (পিতৃ পক্ষ)” and the commencement of “Devi Pōkkho (দেবী পক্ষ)” and its significance in Bengal is that it sets the six days countdown for the “MahaSaptami” of Durga Pujō. The preparations for the Durga Puja reaches its final state during the Mahalaya. It's the day when the whole Bengal wakes up to the reverberating chants of Chandi mantras by Birendra Krishna Bhadra.

Babughat, Kolkata
Photo from Flickr by Amal Biswas
The Rituals:
It’s a ritual among the devotees to fast since dawn and offer prayers (“tarpan তর্পণ”) at the river banks of Ganga as a remembrance of their forefathers and take a holy dip in the sacred river. Several priests can be seen at the Ganga Ghats performing Tarpan for different groups of devotees, this ritual starts early at dawn and continues till mid day. Babughat in Kolkata and Bagerhat in Khulna,Bangladesh are to be mentioned specially. It’s only after performing this ritual the devotees end their fast.

Radio and TV Telecasts:
Birendra Krishna Bhadra
It was in the year 1930, that the All India Radio (AIR) (আকাশবাণী) broadcasted the first live Mahalaya programme. Since then, it has been aired every year at 4:00am on this auspicious day and thus, Mahalaya has been deeply associated with the impeccable voice of late Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose enthralling chants of “Chandi Path” filled every house in Bengal. In spite of his absence, his voice is still aired and has marked its presence on the World Wide Web!

Almost since two decades, Doordarshan has been telecasting an Agamoni Mahlaya Programme, generally a two hour programme which starts around 4:00. It comprises of a dance drama with the evergreen chants by Birendra Krishna Bhadra. This progarmme is telecasted all over India and is presented by Doordarshan Kolkata.

Today, it’s not only the Government broadcasters but the private channels like Star Jalsha, ETV Bangla, Akash Bangla, Zee Bangla and leading radio channel Radio Mirchi etc.  have joined the league to present Mahalaya programme with better graphics and advanced special effects. But, the enchanting recital of “Mahishasur Mardini” by Bhadra will always remain close to our heart; it’s a welcome move that the private channels have come forward to promote the cultural importance of Mahalaya and also to improvise the quality of the programme. 

Mahalaya By Birendra Krishna Bhadra

“Ya devi sarbabhuteshshu, sakti rupena sanksthita Namasteshwai Namasteshwai Namasteshwai Namo namaha.”

যা দেবী সর্বভূতেষু শক্তিরূপেন সংস্থিতা নমস্তস্যৈ নমস্তস্যৈ নমস্তস্যৈ নমঃ নমঃ।

Wishing everyone Shubhō Mōhalōya. | সকলকে যানাই মহালয়ার শুভেচ্ছা।

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Poschim Bongo!

The West Bengal state is the only state in India to have its name in ENGLISH!  Moreover the name is totally insignificant as discussed in my earlier post “Only BENGAL, not West Bengal! “. Almost everyone was taken aback by the West Bengal Government’s decision to rename the state as “Paschimbanga (read: Poschimbongo) পশ্চিমবঙ্গ”. Why were the people displeased? Because, West Bengal has been always referred as “Paschim Banga (read: Poschim Bongo) পশ্চিমবঙ্গ in Bangla, whereas it was known as “Paschim Bangal” in Hindi and several other languages and all of these meant “The western half of Bengal province”. So the question arises, what was the need to rename? When the meaning has remained the same?

The inhabitants of West Bengal expressed their desire to get rid of the “West or Poschim (পশ্চিম)” prefix but the politicians ignored it and unanimously decided to officially use the Bangla version of the state’s name i.e. Paschim Banga. This is absolutely a disagreeable name change; actually it’s not even a change!

Why don’t we support this change? Because,
  • It’s a cosmetic change, the meaning of the state’s name still remains unchanged i.e. it doesn’t satisfy the trivial purpose behind the demand for renaming. Apparently it seems like they changed the name just for the heck of it!
  • The renaming procedure will not be “free”, so when the government is ready to invest time and money in this name change procedure- it’s expected that this change is welcomed and accepted by the inhabitants of the state firstly! We don’t want the taxpayer’s money to be wasted if the renaming process if it is merely being translated!
  • There were better options like “Bongo Pradesh (বঙ্গ প্রদেশ)” or “Bangla Prodesh (বাংলা প্রদেশ)” or “Bharatia Bongo (ভারতীও বঙ্গ)” or “Bongo Bhumi (বঙ্গ ভুমি)” and people were ready to adopt any of these names but all they wanted is to shun the defunct “West পশ্চিম” prefix. We want the name of our state to be in Bangla, but the translation of the existing “West Bengal” is unacceptable!
  • Why is it taking so much time to provide our state a meaningful name ? There are several developmental issues that need immediate attention, so the Government should approve the public choice and start working for overall development of our state! 

The positioning of the state's name among the list of Indian States in the three cases : West Bengal (left), PaschimBanga (centre) and Bongo Prodesh (right).

Why did they do it? These could be the possible reasons: 

  • In order to standardize the name in all languages i.e. be it in English or Hindi or any other language, everyone is bound to use only “Paschim Banga”.
  • They wanted to keep the ghost of partition alive! They wanted that the state’s name should reflect that another half of Bengal lies across the border. But this issue could be resolved by naming the state “Bharatia Banga” or “Indian Bengal” this would have meant a change in reality..!
  • They might be showing us the hope for the futuristic “Greater Bengal বৃহৎ বাংলা” that is to form an United Bengal with Bangladesh J and free from Indian dominium.
  • Another concern was to bring the state position alphabetically higher in the list of Indian states for administrative reasons. Even then, by renaming as “Bongo Prodesh” or “Bangla Pradesh” or “Bharatia Banga” , the state would have featured in the 5th position in the list of Indian states; but “Paschim Banga” merely raises the state’s position to 22 on the list from being at the last position i.e. 28.
If they rename it Paschimbanga it will be nothing less than a waste of public money, waste of time, waste of resources, and most important undermining the sentiments of the residents of the state! 
জয় বাংলা ! Joy Bangla !