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Ananda Mandir 269 Cedar Grove Lane Somerset, NJ 08873 Return Service Requested
NON-PROFIT ORG US POSTAGE PAID NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ PERMIT NO. 1215
October 2014 A Quarterly Publication of Ananda Mandir, New Jersey
THE FUND RAISING DRIVE AT ANANDA MANDIR Reported By Guru Chakravarty
Sukanta Sengupta (seated) receiving award from Pronoy Chatterjee (left) and Dipak Sarkar.
Biswajit Nayak (middle) honored by Pronoy Chatterjee (left) and Dipak Sarkar
Ananda Mandir hosted its annual Fund Raising Luncheon on June 29, 2014 at the Mandir premises. A large tent was set up on the grounds across from the temple, with folding type chairs and tables. A speaker’s podium was set up on the east end of the tent, while the food table was set up on the other side. The weather was enjoyable, and the attendees were in festive mood. President Dipak Sarkar started off the proceedings thanking about the 100 or so attendees who participated. He emphasized the continued need of raising funds in order to complete the task at hand. While we are proceeding with construction on schedule, the burden of the bank loan weighs heavily on the minds of the members, which would result in large mortgage payments. Dipak urged all attendees to donate generously so that the loan amount stays low. Ananda Mandir took this opportunity to offer felicitations to two of its members who have been pillars of support since its inception. Pronoy Chatterjee, head of the Award and Recognition Committee, offered glowing praises to Sukanta Sengupta, a past President, and a core member of the organization since the early days of the Mandir. Sukanta has carved out a place for him in the history of Ananda Mandir. The appreciation as read out by Pronoy is provided below. Also felicitated was Biswajyoti Nayak, the highly popular and energetic priest of Ananda Mandir. Popularly known as Biswabhai, he has been a great proponent of Ananda Mandir by virtue of his knowledge in puja affairs and his polite welcome to one and all. The felicitation was provided by Pronoy and is shown below. After the felicitations, Ashok Rakhit provided a synopsis of the current stage of construction. All could see the structure of the auditorium across the field to appreciate the progress made. Later, he gave a tour of the facility to the interested attendees for more detailed explanation. An update on the status of the construction work is separately included herein. Turn to page 3 >
Ananda Mandir Expansion – An update Reported By Ashok Rakhit, Chair, Construction Committee
Construction did speed up during summer, as expected, after a slow progress during the last harsh winter season. We are currently working on completion of roofing in the community center so that inside work can
progress during the coming winter months. We will also be working on flooring of the extended temple as well as framing. Sitework is progressing in parallel with the building construction, to connect the waterline in new construction area and completion of storm water retention basin. We have lot of work ahead in next 12 months or so. Regarding financials, our spending to date has been mostly as per the original budget. Since my June write-up, we had a successful Annual Fund Raising Luncheon on Sunday, June 29th. Like previous years, our patrons came and made generous contributions. We raised a total of about $130,000 during this event. The money from this year’s fund raising would be used to pay a part of our needs to furnish the kitchens in both buildings and to purchase other amenities like tables, chairs, etc. We still have to raise funds for other furnishings like interior decor, stage lights, audio visual equipment, and various
other miscellaneous items to make both buildings fully functional. As we are getting ready for the major puja events in September/October, we have to stop construction for a few weeks and prepare space for adequate parking and safe driving to allow a large gathering during Durga and Kali Pujas. Biswabhai and Puja Committee volunteers are working hard to make these events enjoyable for you. Please come and join us with your friends and family. During these large gatherings, sometimes we may not be able to provide optimal services, but we hope you would understand and forgive any shortcomings. Ananda Mandir belongs to all of you and not just a few volunteers. Thank you for your continued support of and faith in the Management and the Construction Committee as we are trying to complete this project that would be the solace to our hearts.
Ananda Mandir Calendar of Events (Dates are subject to Change) Please check our website frequently
www.anandamandir.org Tel: 732-873-9821 NOTE: If a particular Puja time is not listed, please contact temple or visit our website:anandamandir.org
OCTOBER Durga Puja – Maha Saptami Wednesday, 01, 7:00 am Maha Ashtami & Maha Nabami Thursday, 02, 6:00 AM Maha Dashami Friday, 03, 10:00 am Lakshmi Puja Tuesday, 07, 7.00 pm Kali Puja Thursday, 23, 7:30 pm Jagaddhatri Puja Wednesday, 29 Oct To Sunday, 02 Nov (Call Mandir for times) Sahitya O Alochana Friday, 17, 8:00 pm Ananda Sandhya Sunday, 12, 2:00 pm Thursday, 23, 7:30 pm NOVEMBER Raas Purnima Thursday, 06, call for time Satyanarayan Puja Thursday, 06 Temple Foundation Day Sunday, 14, call for time Shyama Puja Friday, 21, call for time Sahitya O Alochana Friday, 21, 8.00 pm Ananda Sandhya To be announced DECEMBER Shyama Puja Sunday, 21, call for time Sahitya O Alochana Friday, 19, 8:00 pm Ananda Sandhya To be announced
Special Religious Services Upon request, the priest of Ananda Mandir offers services such as in-house Sraddhas, Rituals associated with Cremations (Antyesti Kriya), Death Anniversaries, Pre-wedding rituals (Naandimukh, Ashirwad, etc), Upanayan (Paitey), Annaprasan, Wedding Ceremonies & Wedding Anniversaries, Griha Prabesh (Bhumi Puja), Consecrations of new cars (New Car Pujas) and others.
If you have needs for any of the above or more, please feel free to contact : Biswabhai @ 732-873-9821
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ANANDA SANGBAD A Periodical Newsletter Published By ANANDA MANDIR (A Tax-Exempt, Non-Profit Organization) 269 Cedar Grove Lane Somerset, NJ 08873 Ph: 732-873-9821 Website: www.anandamandir.org Publication Committee of Ananda Mandir Chairperson: Pronoy Chatterjee, email@example.com Assistant Chairperson: Debajyoti Chatterji, firstname.lastname@example.org Editor-in-Chief:
Another “Oktoberfest” is upon us, the Bengali kind of festivals in October. This means Durga Puja, Kali Puja and Diwali – all coming on to us one after another, making it the celebration month of the year in the calendar. Durga Puja is certainly the biggest event for the Bengali community all over USA, and it demands a lot of effort by the organizers of the Bengali Associations. With continued growth of the community due to influx of new immigrants, there is an ever-increasing number of attendees in the celebrations. Now that there are many temples around us in central New Jersey, including our own Ananda Mandir, where Durga Puja is held according to “tithis,” we see the beginning of a new tradition of puja holidays. More and more people are taking the four days off for the Durga puja, reviving the holiday spirit with which we grew up. The tradition of all family members getting together, set apart because of job locations, is slowly taking shape. It is such a nostalgic time for the culture-loving Bengalis! The enchanting pronunciation of slokas from the “Devi Mahatmya” by Birendra Krishna Bhadra still rings in our ears from the old radio days. Thanks to EBC Radio, we can still hear it in the early hours of Mahalaya in the same way as we did half a century ago. In addition, we have the luxury of seeing live presentations of the “Mahishasura Mardini” in many puja arenas including our own Ananda Mandir. A large number of performers from Kolkata and Mumbai are at hand as well during this season.
So, where do all these leave our youth? Thanks to the availability of many music and dance schools with highly accomplished teachers, a great many children get the opportunity to perform in entertainment programs. But many teens are engrossed with working their fingers at handheld gadgets while the parents are devotedly attending the puja or dancing to a Bollywood tune during entertainment programs. The future Bengali community must deal with this complex mix of old traditions with the second and third generation interests at a time of rapidly changing technological environment. But the “Oktoberfest” lives on. Bengalis continue to celebrate their favorite season with passion for enjoyment, relaxation from worries, and good feelings for each other. Any ill feelings from occasional disagreements are forgotten as we hug one and all at the “Bijoya” get together. Ananda Sangbad wishes everyone in the community a happy puja season! Changes in the Editorial Board We are delighted to have two new editors join the Editorial Board. Nupur Lahiri is well known in the community, not only as a practicing psychiatrist, but also as an author, and as an active participant in Bengali cultural activities. Subhodev Das is a familiar name in the Bengali drama circles and is interested in creative literature. A current editor, Kamal Raychaudhuri, has decided to step off the Editorial Board. He will continue to interact with us in future in a personal capacity.
Guru Chakravarty, Managing Editor, Ananda Sangbad
email@example.com Managing Editor, Ananda Sangbad: Guru Chakravarty, firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Editor, Anandalipi: Amitabha Bagchi, email@example.com Editors: Subrata Bhaumik, firstname.lastname@example.org Debajyoti Chatterji, email@example.com Subhodev Das, firstname.lastname@example.org Sushmita Dutta, email@example.com Nupur Lahiri firstname.lastname@example.org
On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Ananda Mandir, I wish you and your family Happy Puja Holidays! I also want to thank the members of our community for participating in our Fundraising event held in June and making the event enjoyable and successful. We had a large number of members and their families attending the event. We had good food, and we collected about $130,000. As you know Ananda Mandir is undergoing a phase of construction and renovation - the expansion of the temple and building a new community center. Despite the disturbance due to the construction work, the management team is doing their utmost to keep things running normal so that our daily pujas, classes, and group meeting are not interrupted. Our construction team is also working with the contractor to make sure that a large number of anticipated devotees will have easy access to the temple and parking lots during Durga and Maha Kali Pujas and other special events. We are expecting our construction project to be finished by the end of next year. The expanded temple after completion will have enough space for 300 or more devotes to watch puja at the same time in the temple, instead of about 100 devotes in the current temple. The new community center will be able to host small and large parties for wedding, birthday, retirement, graduation, anniversary and shradha, just to name a few. We will also be able to hold, in our community center, small or large size cultural programs, movie shows, plays, and many other events. Additionally, we will have several office spaces available for renting for art,
For general information, please contact the following executives of Ananda Mandir: Dipak Sarkar, President Jaiprakash Biswas, Vice President Suprasad Baidyaroy, Vice President Chanu Das, Treasurer Arun Bhowmik General Secretary
Dipak Sarkar, President, Ananda Mandir
The Cult of Smart Living
Ashok Rakhit All queries, articles, news reports and letters should be directed to the Managing Editor Phone: 908-752-3065 E-mail: email@example.com
dance, language, and religious classes. Please write to me and let me know if you have any other ideas to promote activities for preserving Bengali/Indian Heritage in the new community center at Ananda Mandir. I am also requesting that our life members take more active part in running our organization following completion of our community center and expanded temple. This is necessary because we have to run larger facilities with more human use and car trafficking. We will also need more income to cover additional expenses. For this, our members need to use Ananda Mandir facilities more frequently for a minimum charge. They also need to encourage their friends to use our religious facility and community center more frequently. We will also need financial support to furnish the expanded temple, community center hall, stage, audiovisual system, offices, and vegetarian and non-vegetarian kitchens. Please become a Life Member, Patron Member, or a Grand Patron Member, and donate generously for our cause. Please also join Ananda Mandir team as a volunteer to help in temple work, office work, and training youth in Indian art, literature, and religion. Please join me to make Ananda Mandir stronger so that this organization continues to provide religious and cultural services to hundreds of Bengalis and friends of Bengalis in the tri-state area.
By Chayan Roychowdhury The purchase of Nest Labs by Google earlier this year for $3.2 billion sent ripples throughout the Technology industry. What was the big deal here? It is all about the cult of smart living... living like the “Jetsons.” It’s here!! The new frontier of home technology is riding on the wave of the explosive growth of tablet/idevices, sensors, and home networking. I’ll side step the issue of Google’s ambition here and instead pan the landscape of smart living. Learning Thermostats Let’s start with NEST. This is a market by itself. Well, maybe with Honeywell. There are 91 Million consumers with 25 Mil-
lion having smart thermostats today. NEST is shipping 1MM thermostats a year. Significant!! Last year, couple of my colleagues started talking about NEST and discussing upgrading of their thermostats to a $250 ‘learning’ thermometer. I was wondering why? Well for one thing; this thermostat improves on the programming thermostat by learning your habits of inhouse temperature management and programming itself to replicate that. So what? As a geek, I can program it myself. So can my dog. Well how about the fact that it’s internet connected and you can manage it from half way across the world? Starting to make sense? How about the fact that it keeps a history and recommends the most appropriate
energy savings setting for your home? Hmmm, Interesting! By the way, it has an Auto Away mode to turn the HVAC down when it senses you are gone. Impressed? And most importantly, your iPhone or android phone can act as your remote control for your home thermostat. I think it’s making a lot more sense now, right? But why do I need a new thermostat in the first place? According to US Department of En-
ergy (DOE), half of an average consumer’s energy costs are from his/her home HVAC system. NEST forecasts a saving of over Turn to page 12 >
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“The Fund Raising Drive, continuted from page 1 :”
Sukanta Sengupta a Distinguished Leader of Ananda Mandir
The Board of Trustees of Ananda Mandir honored Sukanta Sengupta with a certificate of recognition plaque for his distinguished leadership to the organization. He made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the organization in many ways. The following are the highlights of his contributions: Under his leadership, Ananda Mandir took the bold step of constructing the current temple. He was instrumental in getting architectural designs done, securing legal assistance, getting traffic studies done, obtaining construction permits, hiring contractor, etc. He led the campaign to raise $200,000 in donations to fund the construction project. He was also the key in getting a loan from Unity Bank needed for the balance of the construction cost. Sukanta created a highly professional control system for the expenses incurred for the construction, and led a team of engineers to supervise the construction process. He is one of the longest serving Board members. He has served the Board for at least 10 years during the last fifteen years. He was also the President of Ananda Mandir for 4 years For the past several years, Sukanta has volunteered on many Ananda Mandir activities, ranging from collection desk duties to traffic control during major events to safety reviews for our facilities.
Ananda Mandir’s priest Biswajyoti Nayak honored • Biswajyoti Nayak, the priest of Ananda Mandir, who is more popularly known Biswabhai, was honored by the Board of Trustees for his outstanding volunteering services to the organization. He received a special standing ovation from the attendees at the recent annual fundraising event. Biswabhai was recognized as a special person, the central figure of our organization, whose selfless dedication for Ananda Mandir helped us to make this organization a close knit family. • Anyone who visited Ananda Mandir would know that he is spread everywhere, cleaning the floor and mowing the yard, taking out the garbage that we generate during any event, participating in spring cleaning, making sure that in the winter our pathways are cleared, and many other things. • When we come here for any meeting or make a casual visit, he often entertains us with his home made snacks and tea as well as telling his witty humor. He welcomes and entertains everyone, always with a smiling face, out of his own volition without anyone’s asking for it. • He provides a wide range of voluntary services to the organization, but without diverting his primary focus as the priest of the temple and on performing private pujas for the community at large. It will be a long list if we attempt to name all that he does for our organization. We all recognize that he is a special person in our community.
Letter to the Editor A Response from the author By Tathagata Ghosh Editor’s Note: The original article by Tathagata Ghosh, titled “Is hosting an Olympics a sprint towards financial ruin” was published in the April issue of Ananda Sangbad. A reader’s response to that article by Subrata Bhaumik was published in the July issue. This response by the author to the reader’s comments will conclude this matter. The financial model of the Olympics ain’t broke. This is the assertion of a reader and probably shared by some more people. This provides an opportunity to reassert the facts as to why I think the model is quite broken for both the Olympics and World Cups. The World Cup 2014 in Brazil, another large event not as complex as the Olympics, provides us the recent example of the fallacy of the rose-tinted views of the reader. This was another “Great Gatsbyesque” party being thrown, which was enjoyed by a large number of people around the world and almost certainly to the financial detriment of the hosts. In my article, I have cited many positives because this article is more of a primer into the reasoning of holding
an Olympics but the focus is really on the slippery slope of unfounded hope, ego, and occasional financial lunacy in hosting a mega-event. A couple of Olympics were cited as black sheep but there are a few others with varying shades of grey. The view that the reader cites stating that conflicts being avoided and global economic benefits due to the Olympics need to be tempered by reality. Conflicts, wars, coups have been scheduled around Olympic events, but were rarely avoided. Sometimes, conflicts do get slightly postponed. These days, the large sporting events also serve as a magnet for terrorist threats and result in huge deployments of security, again at huge costs to the hosts. There are documented bumps in merchandising; but to assume that there are global economic benefits to this kind of investment is speculative and wishful. It also makes no sense for a host country to invest in stadiums if their neighbor gets to sell Nike shoes and other merchandising. The reader may have missed the phrase “final squandered billions” about the Athens Olympics, which
Do you buy from Amazon.com or Dell.com?
Holidays are approaching fast. That includes, Durga Puja, Thanksgiving and Christmas. These festivities are for every body , for Havs and Hav Nots alike. So, please join us like other years to help who need most by donating canned foods and other stuffs to Somerset Food Bank. With your generous help we donated this year in April 59 pounds of food and in August 129 pounds of food. During this Holidays our target is at least 150 pounds. Please lend us your helping hands again by donating canned food, sauces, pasta, cereals and whatever we need to prepare everyday meal. Hunger does not know any particular time of the year, its always there; so is our plea for donation all through the year. PLEASE BRING YOUR DONATION ITEMS TO ANANDA MANDIR. Respectfully, On behalf of Ananda Mandir Humanitarian Committee, Krishna Dutta Roy.
If so, you could help Ananda Mandir receive some funds! Please visit Ananda Mandir’s website (www.anandamandir.org) and click on Amazon.com or Dell.com links shown at the bottom of the Home Page. You will be taken to your desired page. When you purchase from one of these sites, Ananda Mandir will receive some funds from the company. Although each purchase may generate small amounts of money, purchases by many over time can add up to significant amounts. Please help Ananda Mandir generate additional (and much needed!) funds this way!
implies the financial mismanagement prior to this event and economic conditions unrelated to the Olympics. This is not anecdotal, but the opinion of some economists and others with reasonable views. The under-utilization of the iconic stadiums that have been built for prior Olympics and World Cups is a monumental proof of economic fallacy. “The $600 million stadium built in Cape Town for the 2010 World cup has hosted only seven football games in four years since” – AP. This is a story repeated all across the globe including the “Bird’s Nest” of the Beijing Olympic Games now being ridiculed as a "a mausoleum to honor wasted public money." Brazil’s profligacy during the World Cup 2014 resulted in 12 white elephants called stadiums. Without reiterating the original argument, even this small rebuttal above should lead to a call for a better economic model for holding of the Olympics and similar megasporting events. Permanent venues seem to be a logical and viable alternative. Ananda Mandir Expansion
Acknowledgement The Board of Trustees expresses its deep appreciation to Suprasad and Rita Baidyaroy for their continued financial support to the publication of Ananadalipi.
SHRI SHRI KALIPUJA THURSDAY, 23 OCTOBER, 2014
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"Let This Beginning..."
LIFE AND PERIODICITY
By Sumit Roy
By Basab Dasgupta If we observe the daily life of a randomly selected person, chances are that it progresses according to a standard pattern during the week: he/she gets up in the morning, takes a shower, eats something, goes to work, completes the assignments at work, comes home, has dinner, watches TV or spends time on computer for a while, and then goes to bed. The weekends are set aside for shopping and social activities including travel. This cycle continues with some minor variations depending on seasonal activities and other details. Of course, this routine changes occasionally in a more substantial way when there is a major life changing event such as marriage, birth of a child, new job etc., but we reestablish a new routine fairly quickly. We feel very comfortable with such a routine. We get stressed out when events happen randomly or unpredictably, and there is no fixed periodic routine.
We, the human beings, are “creatures of habits!” When we lose our jobs through retirement or lay-off, and lose our spouses through death or divorce; we often lament by saying “I miss my job” or “I miss my wife.” What we really miss is the routine that we developed around our job and/or spouse. The key to feel “stable” and comfortable again is to develop a new periodic routine without the job or the spouse. Some people are even afraid of retirement because they do not want to break their routine! The general rationale behind living a life with such a periodicity is that one must first get a good education, then a decent job; and then get married, bear and rear children, hopefully accumulating material assets along the way with the goal that one could continue living a comfortable life even after retirement. The concept is driven by need to earn money in order to provide for
food, housing, clothes, and other necessities of life, and need for companionship. Interspersed between all such activities are our thought processes, which involve all kinds of emotions. Whenever we are not doing anything physically, we are thinking and feeling some of these emotions. Thinking is often required by our jobs as well, but at other times we are simply thinking, perhaps incoherently about all aspects of our life: our wish to purchase something, our analysis of some event, romantic thoughts about a person of opposite sex, an urge to create something, worry about our children, some weekend plan, and so on. In fact, we think even while we are doing some physical activities as well. It seems that life is nothing but a periodic repetition of activities immersed in a sea of thoughts and emotions. The same description of life can even be apTurn to page 7 >
Unintended Consequences By Rahul Ray The acid-witted American statesman and author Claire Booth Luce is credited with the statement – no good deed goes unpunished. Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, a pioneer in social reforms in India, was known to have said – “I only wanted to do good for them, why are they after me?” He failed to realize that his attempts at social reforms, particularly education for women and re-marriage of widows, were like throwing rocks at the hornet’s nest of social conservatives. This is a typical example of consequences that were not envisioned. My mother was a social worker throughout her active life, and visited slums nearby our South Kolkata apartment to help poor and down-trodden women, particularly those who were battered by their drunken and worthless husbands. She would often advise them to go to the police and lodge complaints about their husbands. But, almost without fail they would say –”They are no good, but they are our husbands after all. God has given them authority to pummel or even kill us at their will. This is our fate!’’ In one instance, a young woman was set to fire by her husband because she refused to hand over her meager income as a housemaid to him so that he could get his daily dose of illicit liquor. The woman was burned pretty badly and died before she could be taken to the nearby hospital. My mother and her as-
sociates entered the scene in this chaos and advised the relatives of the dead woman to go to the local police and get her husband behind bars. Upon inquiry, after about a week, my mother was shocked to learn that those relatives made that man marry the widowed sister of the departed woman. If they had taken my mother’s plan of action and reported the incident to the police, her sister would probably have remained unmarried for rest of her life, a much despised social stigma in India. I found my mother in tears when it came to her attention that the scoundrel was battering his new wife routinely. A few years ago America went to war with Iraq on the shaky evidence of yellow uranium cake, “pipes fit only for making missiles,” weapons of mass destruction (the now-famous WMD), and testimony from people with questionable credentials. When the sound of war drums grew louder by the hour, a hapless few like myself protested by pasting ”No war on Iraq” bumper stickers on our cars and held candle-light vigils in street corners. But, soon an all-out assault of ‘shock and awe’ on Iraq ensued, supported by a large majority of American people and lawmakers who stood firmly behind their President. In no time the then president of Iraq Saddam Hussain’s sons were accosted and killed promptly, along with thousands of other Iraqis. Finally Hussain was
pulled out of his rat-hole hideout, put on a brief trial, and hanged. America was mighty and high. Nobody had the courage to question the unique American idea of justice and peace about why Hussain was not put on trial in the International Court in the Hague, as is customary for war-criminals, or why the American President could not be questioned, let alone put on trial for war-mongering. The disappearance of Saddam Hussain from the Iraq-theater was a watershed moment, and everyone thought that our brave soldiers who liberated Iraq from his tyranny would come home promptly to a hero’s welcome. But, nobody, including the policymakers, occupying military and intelligence personnel stationed in Iraq were prepared for the unintended consequence of the war leading to wanton sectarian violence that ensued. Shia and Sunni Muslims went at each other’s throats in a mayhem unseen by human race. Daily, hundreds of decapitated, mutilated, half-burned bodies started appearing in street corners, Tigris River, and even in the safety of the Green Zone patrolled by American military and their international compatriots. Bombs went off everywhere without notice killing and maiming scores of people including the bombers. Soon the entire country, the cradle of human civilization, sank into the quicksand of abyss.
Turn to page 10 >
(Hindus conclude an inauguration by reciting: "ayamaarambham shubhaaY bhabatu" -- Let this beginning bring benefits (or be auspicious). The year was 1964, September the month. That was when I bounced into the US of A. "Journey to a foreign land for higher studies" ("uchchashikSaarthe bidesh yaatraa", my Bengali-speaking friends will recognize right away) said the personal-column insert in the newspaper "Anandabazar Patrika". While there in the foreign land, I was going to get my own torch lit. I would then save dollars like crazy (a dollar was only a paltry five rupees those days, but only three rupees could get you four packs of Gold Flake cigarettes) by working really hard. That was to be during my eighteen months of practical training, included in my F1 Student Visa, courtesy US Govt. Then I would have returned to India and undertaken the noble, albeit, lowpaying task of dispelling the darkness of ignorance from my poor motherland. That kind of undertaking required many packs of Gold Flake cigarettes to be smoked, so this was an iron-clad plan. And I was going to fly in a 707 aircraft, turbojet at that, not one of your huffin' and puffin' turboprops; with my own personal official BOAC shoulder bag to boot. Five rupees to a dollar as I said, but we were allowed to take out only ten dollars from the Socialist Republic of India at that time. My doting dad bought me some more dollars at double the cost from Kolkata black markets, he just could not bear the thought of his son stranded on the streets of Chicago without bus fare. Chicago, I said, yes, Chicago was the city of my graduate school. Old fogey relatives had to comment, "Chicago? You out of your mind? That is the city of Al Capone, Mafia Turn to page 6 >
ANANDA SANDHYA Reported By Arun Bhowmik, Chair, Cultural Committee
Ananda Sandhya has carved out its place among many attractions of Ananda Mandir. Music lovers of all ages and genders come together for listening pleasure of classical music, be it vocal or instrumental. Friday, July 11, 2014 An impressive gathering of highly acclaimed musicians occurred on July 11. Sanjoy Banerjee is a famous musician from India and distinguished exponent of the Kirana Gharana of North Indian Vocal Classical Music. With his sonorous and unwavering voice he has enthralled audiences at home and abroad, performing in UK, Germany, Bangladesh and USA. He has received many awards and honors, including Surmani Award from Sur Sringar Samsad, Mumbai, National Scholarship from Ministry of Human Resource and Development, Government of India in 1993 and Junior Fellowship from Department of Culture, Govt of India in 1996. Apart from this Sanjoy Banerjee is a successful guru teaching at his own institution Suromurchhana, Kolkata, and at Chhandayan Center of Indian Music, New York." Sanjoy was accompanied by Roshni Basu and Harry Einhorn on vocal support, Andrew Shantz on harmonium and Dibyarka Chatterjee on tabla. Friday, August 8, 2014 “Glimpses of our treasure of devotional songs from Bengal” A delightful evening of Padavali, Kirtan, Ramprasadi and other devotional compositions presented by some of our well known community musicians. Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 5 AM The 11th anniversary of Mahalaya will be presented in the early morning by Arun Bhowmik accompanied by a big group of talented singers, instrumentalists and tabla players.
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SHUBHAMANGALA SAVADHAN By Amrita Kangle "You must not smile. The bride must not look as if she is happy to be getting married." My aunt who is just that much older than me to be thought of as a friend in my life, immediately rearranged her facial muscles, put on an appropriate demure and shy expression, and looked down at her pink painted toenails. Mollified, Mejdimashi, (my grandfather's cousin sister) gave an approving nod and swept away, all resplendent in her white garb to go and give a piece of her mind to another unsuspecting soul. As it used to happen in the olden days, girls who were widowed at a very young age, came back home and were looked after for the rest of their lives by their brothers and their families. As they grew older, they took on the role of the eldest member of the family. Their words were the law, and they were feared and respected equally by everyone. Let me introduce Mejdimashi.....our grand aunt, friend, confidante, champion, disciplinarian all rolled into one. Almost every family had its version of Mejdimashi, and these ladies were a riot. In my husband's family, we had a Dina-kaki, and she could challenge Mejdimashi remark for remark. Her observations were that outrageous! And as these ladies grew older, their remarks tended to grow more and more outrageous. So much so that at times they could make a grown man blush, and often did! Mejdi-mashi was just short of a fire breathing dragon,which is to say that apart from breathing fire from her nostrils, she did everything that a dragon does. She scared us silly! She had very fixed ideas about the norms of acceptable behavior, more so in girls, and these ideas were at least a hundred years old. But according to her, they were good enough to be followed for the next hundred years. We were not supposed to talk loudly in a strident tone because that was considered unladylike. We were not to talk back to our elders; we were to sit demurely and not perch anywhere and everywhere like the boys did. And heaven forbid, if she caught us lying down on the bed, reading a book with our legs swinging any which way, a sharp thwack would land on our poor unsuspecting bottoms. We were not to get up and go from the table as soon as we had finished our meal, but we had to wait till everyone had finished and clear the table. And for the slightly older ones amongst us cousins, ”boys” and “marriage” were not words that were supposed to cross their lips. As and when the appropriate time came by, the parents knew well enough to do the needful. The fact that a girl could have a say in her own marriage was an idea that was not even allowed to be born. In fact, if the talk of her marriage was even mentioned in her presence, she was supposed to look shy, look down, and run away from the room. This fact has been very well portrayed in the film “Golmaal” where the father ( Utpal Dutt) thunders ”You will not marry a boy who you love, but you will marry the boy who I love!” She was very fond of telling us stories from her own life where she had first seen our Mejodadu straight on the “biyer pire.” And the first glimpse that she had of him was of his ankles as she had been peeking out from behind the “paan” leaves covering her eyes as she was carried out to the wedding platform by her brothers, as per the Bengali tradition. No, of course not! The question of her
having met him before did not arise. And no, she had not even been shown his picture. She had spoken to him for the first time after a fortnight and a honeymoon!! What was that?? She had entered the kitchen straight away with her head covered with her “saree pallu” in a ”ghomta” till it covered her eyes totally. She could not go to bed before she had pressed her mother-in-law's feet, and by that time her poor hapless husband, my Mejodadu, would be fast asleep. They did not give too much of importance to the ”need for privacy and togetherness” factor in a young couple's life in those days, did they? Though I must say that romance did not seem to have suffered! Dozens of children were not the exception but the rule. Compare that to marriages today. Single families and total privacy........but divorces happening faster than you can blink. Anyways, getting back to Mejdimashi - now that you know where she was coming from, can you imagine her reconciling to the idea of a girl and a boy actually getting together “before” marriage and getting to know each other? Fat chance! She had drilled all these “appropriate” thoughts into my mother's and aunts' heads, since she had played a very large role in their upbringing. As a result, we cousins were ruled by Mejdimashi's instructions by proxy. I am not saying that the sisters left any stone unturned, but they were not very successful. Almost all of us girls went ahead and chose our own life partners. That is to say we had a “love” marriage! Of course by this time Mejdimashi had departed long since to reside with the angels in heaven. I am sure she was doing her dragon-act from there too but since Heaven is many miles away, the heat did not touch us. Now before you think that we the “Modern Misses” (MM) had won the battle, let me tell you that we had gotten this far but could go no further. I got to marry the man I chose, but I had to behave according to the guidelines laid down by Mejdimashi. I could not go about my life beaming from ear to ear indicating my state of mind to the world. I had to be shy and bashful whenever anyone brought up the topic. It is extremely difficult to be bashful about someone you have known since you were eight years old (yes, that's exactly how long I have known my H to be). You can try it if you don't believe me! But that is exactly what I had to do. Now when I look at my wedding pictures, I have on such a serious expression in all of them. This stemmed from the old instruction of Mejdimashi who had admonished a bride against looking too happy. Looking happy, while getting married, was akin to behaving shamelessly - as was calling your husband by his name. And these old habits stick like a leech, I can tell you. As much as I try to address the H man by his given name in a public place, what comes out is a staid and ladylike ”Listen!” I can swear that it is Mejdimashi at work! On my wedding day, I was so confused that even when people came and congratulated me, I was in two minds as to how I should respond; with a beaming smile, which showed how happy I was or with a soulful look with eyes cast down, as if marriage was a chore that had to be complied with. Having been brought up on this strict diet of “appropriate behavior,” sometimes I find myself caught in a dilemma, and, honestly, at times I feel as if I am a dinosaur. Like as if I am going extinct. Last month we had to attend a
SHRI SHRI KALI PUJA THURSDAY, 23 OCTOBER, 2014
South Asian Theater Festival (SATF) Reported by Amitabha Bagchi The ninth annual edition of the South Asian Theater Festival (SATF) was held on September 6-7 at the Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The two-day event was organized by EPIC Actors’ Workshop in association with the Crossroads Theatre Company. The aim of SATF is to provide a platform to the South Asian diaspora to showcase their talent in the dramatic arts. Each year’s festival has a distinctive theme that is reflected in some of the plays that are presented that particular year. The theme of this year’s conference was a mouthful: Life with Equality and Dignity for Women of the South Asian Community in the State of New Jersey. Several plays this year foTurn to page 7 >
wedding function in New York. I was very excited as it had been a long time since I had attended one. I was not to know then that excitement was going to be the least powerful of emotions that would affect me over the next few days. The bride was attired in jeans and a skimpy top when we arrived, and she greeted us very vociferously. Her Prince Charming was there by her side and, that too, just two days before the wedding. Why, I had not even been allowed near the telephone for three whole days before I got married. She was calling him by his name and good heavens..... did she just perch on his lap and kiss him in full view of all of us during the Sangeet? What happened to Indian tradition? The bride was talking loudly and laughing full throatedly, and why on earth was she not blushing? She ought to have been feeling shy and bashful, right? I was getting more and more confused by the minute. Came the day of the wedding itself, and I heaved a sigh. What a beautiful bride! In full bridal attire, she was gorgeous. Her heavy Lehenga with Zardosi work; her heavily embroidered choli....which was a tiny little number exposing most of her bare midriff, the ethereal dupatta with gold Gota embroidery covering her head and framing her piquant little face and her gorgeous traditional jewelry....... all these satisfied the romantic in me, and I had a tear in my eye for this girl who would soon leave her father's home to go and set up her own. How beautiful, how traditional, how full of emotion was this moment. Suddenly, there was a loud roll of drums and shehnai. Up zoomed the groom, head and face bedecked in a floral tiara, riding an Indian style auto rickshaw into the beautifully decorated hall, to claim his princess! And the bride sailed across the huge hall to be clasped in her prince's tender embrace. And she was beaming from ear to ear. No dainty steps and no bashful glances. My emotions now were swinging between the “tender” of a moment ago and the “bewildered” of the present. Jaymala over the bride and the groom went over to the expensively and gorgeously decorated, flower bedecked mandap where they were to be united in holy matrimony. Then began the session of “selfies”. In case you did not understand, allow me to explain. Selfies are pictures that you take of your own self. They each had their own cell phones – and picture after picture in every pose, did the two main protagonists take. The priest continued doing his job of chanting mantras while the pretty bride and her handsome groom continued their work. And as soon as a picture was clicked, they were exchanging notes, and it was immediately getting uploaded onto Facebook for their friends to view. All at the same time as the ceremony, which was binding their two lives together. Technology at its best was at work here, and MM had won the day! By now my emotions had crossed all stages of bewilderment, and I had a glazed, unfocused look on my face, according to the H man. He very considerately led me to a chair and procured a tall glass of something cool to calm me down. You must not forget that I come from the era of the dragon! In this era, I have yet to make my place. But no time like the present to make a start! Where is my cell phone? I need to take a “Selfie.”
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Outrunning Bugaboos By Bakul Banerjee The bitter Chicago winter of 2014, dubbed as polar vortex season by enthusiastic TV weather men and women, kept me trapped indoors, for the most part, during that January week. However, the local public library system offered a wonderful cure for the winter blues in the form of a series of literary workshops. That Saturday afternoon, I decided to attend a workshop on on-line self-publishing given by one of my favorite presenters despite the particular venue being about twenty-five miles away from my home. After wrapping my coat around the back of a chair in the middle of the second row, I proceeded to get a cup of hot coffee. I already noticed some chocolate chip cookies on the snack table when I entered the room. Armed with the strong black coffee and cookies, I settled down on my chair and turned to the nice lady next to me to introduce myself. I had to reach across the mandatory and sacred empty seat between us. After more than three decades in US, I have learned to honor that unwritten rule of private spaces. However, occasionally I do break the rule just to see how people react. “What are you planning to get out of this workshop?” I asked her. “I ALREADY have a book. I am deciding on the best way of publishing it.” She answered. Let me call her Emily. “I am here for the same reason. However, my book is not exactly finished. What is the subject of your book?” I asked. “It is about dangerous food -- food that must be avoided.” Emily sounded absolutely confident. The emphasis on ALREADY worried me. “Can you give me an example?” “Rice – of course. Nobody should eat rice.” She replied “Why?” I wondered how this innocent staple food for most of the world had become a major culprit in this lady’s mind. “Arsenic, of course. Rice contains high doses of arsenic. It can kill you.” She said. Did I detect a condescending tone in her voice? “Are you a biochemist or a food scientist?” As soon as that line escaped my mouth, I regretted it. “No, I do not have to. I do research on-line. Do you know something called Google?” She said. I was stunned and speechless. She must have come to that conclusion because of my distinct Indian accent. I decided that I would not make much conversational progress with her and was glad that I resisted the earlier temptation of handing out my card to her. As I sat still, I felt like chuckling. Images of my fellow students in the all-women and vegetarian dormitory dining room became vivid in my mind. My university for post-graduate studies was in a major South Indian city and many resident women came from small villages. It was not unusual to have the face of my dinner companion across the table hidden away behind a giant mound of rice on the stainless steel dinner plate in front of her. We ate a lot of rice there. Rice is still the mandatory accompaniment for a decent Bengali dinner. Nothing else goes better with the shrimp in mustard cream curry or practically any other Bengali dish. It was a sparkling day when I got out of the library. Highways and city streets were clear, but the cityscape was wrapped up in white comforters of snow. Familiar routes became unfamiliar. Suddenly, I spotted a grocery store and decided to pick up few essential items. In the parking lot, I googled “rice arsenic” on my smart-phone. It was not very reassuring to find out that some rice fields in Texas might be contaminated with arsenic. Many of these fields were used for cotton, and they were saturated with arsenic laced pesticides. I am sure that the same is true for rice grown in other countries. I went inside the store. Being in an unfamiliar store, I had to walk through many aisles to find the things I needed. One aisle was stacked with rice products – rice chips, rice cakes, cream of rice, etc. It seemed that the products were the same as before, except that all of them sported new jackets with the words “Gluten free” marked on them, as if they were new Gluten free products. I suppose many consumers would not know that rice never had any gluten. I thought of how much money these companies have spent in designing these new packaging. The lowly rice cakes, the butt of many jokes, were certainly more expensive than before. I could imagine these products flying off the shelves. In the U.S., a very small percent of the population suffer from the Celiac disease and are intolerant of Gluten. However, everybody wants the gluten-free diet now. In the same aisle, stocks of chips and crackers made of wheat or should I say “Franken” wheat , seemed relatively low. Some of my friends truly believe in avoiding Franken wheat. However, I was not ready to start my rants on GMOs in my head. A package of original Ritz crackers, neither reduced fat, nor the reduced salt kind, went into my cart. I did not even need it. That evening, I was invited to an intimate dinner party featuring traTurn to page 11 >
"Let This Beginning..." < Continued from page 4
rules it",-- doing wonders to my perspective. I jammed twenty-four years of memories, beliefs and biases in a forty-four pound suitcase. Mom insisted that I pack a custom-made dressing gown. Her sources told her that it was the formal informal attire around a dorm, in Mafia-land anyway. So out went my copy of Gitabitan in favor of Sanchayita and I finally left town. The plan was to stop at New York for a few days before flying out to Chicago. The 1964 New York World's Fair was on and a big brother, Dada, from the neighborhood had an open invitation to come and see him in New York. He was working on his medical internship there. "Take a bus from the airport to the Grand Central, I'll be there." As is widely known, human inventiveness had to take a long rest after the monumental discovery of Turbojet 707 to recover and invent baggage wheels. So I had no choice but to haul my forty-four pound albatross and wheeze into the Grand Central, too exhausted to really notice how cavernous it was. Dada was there, embarrassingly homesick but true to his promise. We hopped on a subway train and hopped off near his apartment downtown. I was totally absorbed in my Sisyphean task of hauling the forty-four pounder when a big black man slowly disentangled himself from the darkness of the platform that he seemed to be a part of, and dangerously encroached my private space. He was making some noise, but he was too drunk and I too scared to make any sense of that. As I was trying to figure out the protocol for responding to my Welcoming Committee while my entire life was flashing before my eyes, I noticed Dada, frantically gesticulating from a safe distance. "Give him a cigarette, you fool, give him a cigarette ", Dada said and that I certainly could do. I pulled out the fancy pack of British cigarettes I bought on the airplane and my new disposable lighter. My greeter took the whole pack and the lighter, grunted and merged back in the shadows. Now, Dada was not a medical intern in NYC for nothing, he revived me, refused to lend me money to purchase a return plane ticket to Kolkata then and there, and brought me up to his apartment. He said, "Well, chalk the experience up to boot camp training, you will need it where you are going. Your school in Chicago is right in the heart of a notorious black ghetto." ( 'kaluyaapaTTi' was the Bengali term he used, still in vogue, I believe). The Civil Rights Act was only two months old. Dada proved to be right, right on the nose. My school in Chicago was a well-lit island in the midst of dark waters. Dark and dangerous waters. Sirens of police cars-- could be ambulances too-- ripped the stillness of nights, fires suddenly burst out from dark boarded-up houses, broken glass carpeted the sidewalks and our campus police refused to respond to mugging incidents from the other side of the street. We had four to five thousand students in our school. We had Indians, we had Chinese, Mexicans, South Americans, French, Turkish, Canadians, Japanese,-- a veritable rainbow of students from all over the world. Well, we had maybe twenty or so black students too, including Africans. O yes, while in NYC, I did find time to go to the World's Fair. They were showing Michelangelo's sculpture titled "Pieta", on loan from the Vatican, and I had to go and see it. In the pavilion housing the sculpture, one would be taken up really close to the sculpture and one could linger on the rotating platform for as long as one wished. It was so beautiful that you could cry. In the sculpture, Jesus had been taken down from the cross, his mother Madonna held his dead body on her lap, gazing at it as steadfastly as only stone sculptures could. There was no complaint, no anger, no hatred in her
visage, just love, compassion and a deep sadness. Death had smoothed the marks of agony from the face of Jesus, his five holy wounds very gently hinted at by Michelangelo. The son of God had died for our sins, a healthy full-grown man. Mary was sculpted as a young woman framed in rich folds of her drapery. An ageless artwork that wanted to bring a vision of heavenly peace in this violent real world. I was awed. Such was the beginning. Let this beginning be beneficial, as Hindus might say! I inched along in Chicago until one fine morning I discovered myself doing research and development in an ivory tower known as the Bell Laboratories. That place was too good and, to top it, it was true as well, so that took care of my resolve to return to and resurrect India. I stuck around and made some progress up the corporate ladder just on the basis of not who I knew, but on what I knew. This I liked way more than my experience in India which was the other way around. Then came the dawn of the information age, many corporate icebergs calved and before I could get on the deck to admire the view, my Titanic hit one of those and sank, proceeding to take me down with it. As I was struggling for my last breath, a hand reached out, grabbed me and pulled me up. The hand belonged to a black man, nowhere as big physically as my greeter friend in NYC but with a heart bigger than I had ever seen-- before, then or since. Jesse Russell was his name, a big name in his field, a name the cognoscenti would have recognized at once. He did not ask for any cigarettes either. He asked me to join him in a project based on a vision he had where we were going to build equipment to bring wireless communication to all. I joined and spent some time in a land of dreams with rainbow colors. There was white and black and yellow, brown and red, but, above all, they were people. They used to break the door down in the morning to come to work, they worked in the lab for days on end and refused to go home, they had their "eyes on the prize". We reached the land of Jesse's vision one fine morning. We were pioneers, we discovered the hills and that them hills had gold. The expected turn of events followed. The prospectors came and then came the settlers. Anyone with some knowledge about the history of America knows what happens to pioneers when prospectors and settlers come. Before long, I was thrashing in the waters again. A lifesaver was thrown; again by a black man; by Jesse. Civil Rights Act was turning around thirty then. St. Peters Basilica is a must-see on a Vatican tour. It is also the home of Michelangelo's sculpture Pieta. The last time I saw it as a part of my inauguration, it was out on a loan from Vatican to the NY World's Fair. I had a chance to see it again after I retired. Walking into the Basilica, I found the sculpture on my right, housed behind very thick bulletproof glass, to be viewed from a considerable distance-- protection mandated for the piece of art after some deranged individual attempted to damage it. The lighting appeared to be dying, the marble moldy. It just looked like an inaccessible exhibit under artificial lighting in a museum, disproportionate to boot. If there was a vision of heavenly peace there, I did not see it. It was the inauguration of an airhead young engineer with a lot of baggage-insensitive to human issues, dazzled by empty but coruscating aphorisms. After the Vatican trip I think I can say that the erspectives have been swapped, at least partially. Would that be the "benefit" that came about from the "beginning"? Cannot shake the doubts. Civil Rights Act is older than fifty now. Gentle Reader, what is your experience?
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South Asian Theater Festival (SATF) < Continued from page 5
cused on the theme, either deliberately or inadvertently, and there was also a panel discussion at the end devoted to the subject. SATF 2014 opened with brief remarks by Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula and a lamp lighting ceremony involving the assembled directors, playwrights and honored guests. This was followed by a remarkably candid welcome speech by the Festival Chair, Sajal Mukherjee, where he bemoaned the silos that separated the audiences of dramas staged by different regional groups within South Asia. He also wondered aloud if there was a truly integrated South Asian community for appreciating the full spectrum of South Asian Theater. There were four plays presented on Saturday, September 6. The first one was a play in English, Taconic Parkway, produced by Natya Bharati of Washington, DC and directed by Manoj Tiwari. Taconic Parkway was written originally in Bengali by Sudipta Bhawmik and later translated into English. It is a richly layered drama revolving around three characters – an immigrant couple hosting a celebrated film star visiting from India – and touches on issues like unrequited love, rape, incest, and death. His gripping play survived and overcame occasionally muffed lines by less than optimally prepared actors to enthrall the audience. The next play , Women of Modern Civilization, was in English and Urdu. It was written, directed, and produced by Bina Sharif, a Pakistani-American playwright, actor, and director. It was a one-woman tour de force. Using monologues and a spare set consisting of two chairs, a table, and a few shawls and wrappers, Bina presented a collection of five stories of struggling women from different walks of life. Sharmila Pinki Ghoshal wrote and directed Epic’s production of Talk of Our Town (billed as “A Multilingual Theatrical Collage”). It presented several short sketches or stories based on women’s issues and women-onwomen tension and violence involving immigrants from different parts of South Asia – Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. As the sub-title indicates, it was more in the nature of a dramatized storytelling rather than a full-length play. A brief interlude of dance separated the episodes, each of which came with a country-specific slide projected on the back-
LIFE AND PERIODICITY
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plied to people who live unconventional lives – monks, panhandlers, prisoners locked up for life, astronauts in a long time mission in a spaceship, etc.; they all follow a certain periodic routine as well. Even if one is confined to an enclosed space where there is no interaction with the outside world in any way, one’s “biological clock” kicks in, and one follows a periodic routine. When we think about life, we realize that most of the things we do in life evolve around earning money and “enjoying” the fruits of our labor. However, I would like to emphasize that all the needs we satisfy with money - the need to eat, provide clothes and shelter and other amenities, and even the physical need - is really to follow the requirements of our bodies. If our body did not change at all and retained a fixed shape without food, then this whole concept of education, jobs, marriage etc. for sake of catering to the needs of our bodies would become irrelevant. In that case, the only reason for doing anything would be to enhance our thought processes. We may still want to go to school in order to broaden our knowledge base: to learn about history, geography, and how things work. We may still want to work, to not only keep ourselves busy, but to test if we can correctly apply some knowledge that we learned from books. We may still want to take on a mate, even if we do not have any physical needsjust for companionship. Most significantly, we would still develop a daily routine and have a life. So my point is that life is not about earning money in order to sustain our body, building wealth, or raising children, it is simply a repetitive set of activities, and it does not matter what those activities are. Let us now examine why this is the case. The fact that the earth spins around its own axis at a rate of one revolution in twenty four hours and gives rise to day and night automatically introduces a fundamental periodicity in how we spend our life time. There is an additional periodicity with a period of one year because the earth revolves around the sun with a period of one year. This also gives rise to the concept of seasons. In addition, we ground. The final offering on Saturday was a play in Hindi, Ji Jaisi Aapki Marzi, produced by Theatrix of New Jersey and directed by Ashok Vanjari. The play was again episodic, presenting a montage of incidents and situations from different parts of India that depicted the oppression and exploitation of women. The most remarkable thing about the performance was the extraordinarily well-knit and graceful choreography of seven women who acted in the drama. The specific episodes, however, were shop-worn and banal, lacking any subtlety. So while the production was dazzling in its externalities, the message of the playwright was quotidian at best. The SATF fare on Sunday consisted of two plays in Bengali and a panel discussion. The first play was Epic’s production of Teen Poyshar Pala, the Bengali adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s “The Threepenny Opera.” The second and final play was Bibisaab, staged by the New Jersey group Asian American Soci-
also introduced a weekly periodicity in our life simply by dividing a year into fifty two weeks. However, unlike a day or a year, there is nothing fundamental about the duration of week, such as its correlation with positions of stars and planets. In fact, a week, as we know it, consists of seven days; different cultures have experimented with different durations of a week, anywhere from four days to ten days. The period is fundamentally determined by the motion of the planets i.e., a twenty four hour period, modulated by seasonal and annual variations. For working people and students, the period is forced to be one week (just like periods of forced vibrations). Can there be life without a periodicity? Interestingly enough, all the planets in the universe are spinning around their own axes as well as revolving around other stars. Otherwise, they would have been attracted by some other mass and destroyed in the resulting collision. So, even if there is life in outer space on some other planet, it is logical to conclude that “life” on that planet also follows a periodic routine based on its rotational motions. I would now like to argue, based on an analogy, that this periodicity, in fact, gives life a structure and stability. My analogy comes from my education in physics, and I view life as something that can be modeled as a (one dimensional) solid. A solid consists of a periodic arrangement of positive ions submerged either in a “sea” of electrons in case of metals or interacting together while sharing the outer electrons in case of an insulator. Similarly, life is just a periodic TEMPORAL repetition of a certain routine. The routine is generated in one of two ways: i) by ourselves, using our thoughts and emotions or ii) dictated to us by some plan, which does not involve much of our own thought (for example, in cases of monks and prisoners)! In case of a solid, it is the periodicity of a lattice structure and the interaction of the positive ions and electrons that give the rigidity of a solid substance. Similarly, a routine with a periodicity, which is determined by some plan or thought process, gives life a
ety for Theatrical Arts (AASTHA). Teen Poyshar Pala is in the grand tradition of outstanding Bengali adaptations of non-Indian (chiefly European) plays. Like the other adaptations, Teen Poyshar Pala has the look and feel of an original Bengali drama. It is set in the underworld of beggars, whores and ruffians of Calcutta – then the capital of British India under Queen Victoria – around the time of the visit of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) in 1875. This tongue-in-cheek and slightly melodramatic play was exquisitely presented by a large cast of Epic’s actors under the able direction of Abhik Chatterjee of Kolkata. The only jarring part was the end with the dated rant against capitalism and capitalists by the protagonist, Mahin, at the gallows, and the sudden appearance of Lord Shiva on Earth to apply a soothing balm on all. This is a critique not of the excellent SATF production but of the play itself, which reflects the pronounced socialist bias of Brecht that might have been
structure. Just like the interaction between electrons and positive nuclei, there has to be interaction between our thoughts (or a plan dictated to us) and our actions in order for life to have the structure. My model has to be a one dimensional solid because life flows only in one dimension i.e. with time. The ones who do not have such a routine or do irrational things unrelated to a thought process or emotion do not have a life; they can easily fall apart much like an amorphous non-crystalline substance! A solid can be either a metal or an insulator. Similarly, life can be more spontaneous or more “rigid.” In the first case, there is room for lots of different thoughts and emotions, even though we are following a certain routine; this situation is analogous to a sea of electrons, which can undergo various excitations (such as plasma oscillations in a metal). For a rigid life on the other hand, one just follows the routine without too much thought; this is analogous to the situation of an insulator where the electrons, which are similar to carriers of thoughts and emotions, are constrained to follow certain orbits in this case. If we intentionally make our life completely random or, at least, non-periodic, say by eating and sleeping at irregular hours and doing completely different physical activities on different days, it is likely that our body would not be able to sustain it and, at some point, completely break down. Our body and its biological clock are probably synchronized to the rotation of earth in some way because the evolution of the body from sperm to embryo to a fully mature baby takes place on a spinning platform. The bottom line is that our life has a periodicity, and it is related to the (rotational) motion of earth and presumably indirectly to the motions of other planets and stars as well. It would be fascinating to ponder at this point if the cyclic nature of joy and sorrow in our lives is also related to such motions as well, thus lending credence to the subject of astrology!
shared and amplified by Ajitesh Bandopadhyay in the pre-Naxalite West Bengal. Bibisaab, written by Abdullah alMamun and directed for SATF by Jamaluddin Hossain, is a play about the Liberation War of Bangladesh and its aftermath. The central character is an elderly widow, who lost her husband and two sons in the freedom struggle and now faces economic catastrophe at the hands of a one-time collaborator with the Pakistani Army and a two-faced feckless politician. The truly memorable thing about the play was the extraordinary acting talent of Rowshan Ara Hussain as the main character. It is a tightly woven play that was directed well and left a very good impression on the audience. The panel discussion in the end, on life with equality and dignity for women of the South Asian diaspora, featured an all-women cast of four panelists and a moderator. The group was composed of professors, social workers, thespians, and playwrights. Each panelist gave a brief opening
statement that dealt with the festival’s theme as viewed from their individual backgrounds and perspectives. Afterwards, there was a question-and-answer session, which unfortunately had to be cut short owing to a lack of time. A final thought about the SATF Chairperson’s comment about the audience silos, whereby a regional drama is mostly watched by the members of that particular linguistic group. SATF and other theater festivals like it try to overcome the handicap by using English “super-titles.” Unfortunately, theater super-titles are far less well developed than movie sub-titles. The translations are frequently sketchy and have insufficient details to permit a full appreciation of the nuances of a production. Furthermore, in the case of SATF 2014, the lighting and background color often conspired to make the super-titles unreadable, leaving the non-language speakers in the audience groping to make sense of a complicated pantomime.
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Sapta Tirtha Kanchipuram: The abode of Goddess Kamakshi, Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu By Sushmita Dutta “Ayodhya Mathura Maya Kasi Kanchi Avantika! Puri Dwarakavathi Saiva Sapthaithate Mokshadaiyeka!” This Sanskrit verse mentioned in ancient Hindu scriptures, reveals a major segment of Holy India – the Sapta Tirthas. Among Sapta Tirthas, the seven pilgrimage centers, where Hindus believe Gods live as avatars and thus are must visits in one’s lifetime to attain (salvation), we have covered five of the “tirthas” so far - Mathura, Varanasi, Dwarka, Ayodhya and Ujjain in past issues of Ananda Sangbad. Of the remaining two –Kanchipuram is covered in this issue and Haridwar will be covered in the next issue of Ananda Sangbad. In these articles, we deliver as much spiritual and historical information as possible to our readers and also include travel directions, lodging and boarding tips. Kanchipuram – Highlights and Historical Significance: Located on the banks of Vegavathy river, a tributary of Palar river, Kanchipuram, also known as Kanchi, is a city in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India, located about 72 miles from Chennai, the state’s capital. With its heritage and scenic beauty, Kanchipuram is known as a pious city of thousand temples with unique architectural constructs. For example, one of the oldest temples in the city, Ekambaranathar, has a gateway which is 59 meters tall and is considered the tallest temple gateway in India. The premises of this temple also holds architectural wonders like a hallway of 1000 pillars, 1008 Siva Lingams and a 3500 year old mango tree called "sthala-virutcham" which yields four different types of mangoes. These are some of the wonders that make Kanchipuram an attractive tourist’s place besides being a Sapta Tirtha. The city houses some of the major Hindu temples in India with massive Dravidian style architectural builds having monumental heights and breathtakingly beautiful sculptural works. While most Sapta Tirthas are singularly dedicated to either Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu, Kanchipuram is a notable holy pilgrimage center for both Saivities and Vaishnavites – worshippers of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. In fact, 14 of the 108 temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu, are located in Kanchipuram. Sustaining both Shiva and Vishnu worships, the city is subdivided into two divisions – Big Kanchi, also called Shiva Kanchi having most Shiva temples and Little Kanchi, also called Vishnu Kanchi, where most Vishnu temples are found. Kanchipuram used to be the capital of Pallava Dynasty between 4th and 9th centuries and has been the headquarters of the Hindu monastic institution called “Kanchi Math” founded by famous Hindu saint Adi Sankaracharya. Hindu mythology has it that the city was a part of the legendary Dravida Kingdom and was described by Sanskrit poet Kalidasa as “Nagareshu Kanchi” which means "The best among cities." Kanchipuram surfaced as an important place in the 6th century when the Pallavas moved their capital to this city. History has it that it is the Pallavas who constructed this wellplanned city with roads having wide networks, architectural monuments, and artistic temples. During the Maurya period (325–185 BCE) Kanchipuram was called by many Tamil names like Kanchi, Kanchipedu, and the Sanskrit name Kanchipuram where the term Kanchi is derived from “Ka” referring to Hindu Lord Brahma and “Anchi”, meaning worship of Lord Vishnu. The term Pura, Puram or Puri in Sanskrit means a city. Accordingly, Ka+Anchi+Puram is Kanchipuram. Kanchipuram - famous for Conjeevaram silk: During the British rule, the city was known as Conjeevaram. It is famous for Conjeevaram silk sarees. Exports and domestic sales of hand woven silk sarees make Kanchipuram one of the busiest business centers in India employing a large labor force engaged in an industry
worth 100 crores INR (US $18.18 million). It is believed that the king Raja Chola 1 (985–1014 AD), initiated the Conjeevaram silk trade in India and brought silk weavers from various places who migrated to Kanchipuram. In 15th century, under the rule of Vijayanagara, the silk business flourished. Then, there was a lag period during the1757 French siege, but soon after, the silk business reemerged as a major industry of Kanchipuram in the late 18th century and continues to be a good source of income for the local silk weavers and merchants.
Kanchipuram - a learning center: In the past, Kanchipuram was also known as Ghatikasthanam meaning a "place of learning." People living in Kanchipuram city were well known for their adoration for learning, bravery, piety, and love of justice. Between the 1st and 5th centuries, the city was a prime center for education and advanced studies for Jainism and Buddhism. Several education centers based in Kanchipuram were involved in spreading Theravada Buddhism to South East Asia. Even today, the city has some Turn to page 10 >
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Highlights of Recent Puja Activities Reported By Krishna Dutta Roy, Chair, Puja Committee
At Ananda Mandir, we believe in the adage "Baro Mase Tero Parban" and I am glad to talk about all the celebrations. June The month started with Satyanarayan Puja, “Jagannath Mahaprabhur Snan Yatra”, and the monthly Shyama Puja. However, the biggest event was Rath Yatra on 29th of June. The red and yellow colored chariot was decorated with flowers and colored papers. The moorties of Sri Sri Jagannath deb, Subhadra and Balaram were placed inside. The Rath was pulled by men, women and children around the premises of Ananda Mandir with chanting of “Jai Jagannath”, with loud playing of Khol and Kartal. The
children danced merrily. The celebration actually started inside the temple with a dance program "Eulogy to Sri Sri Jagannath Mahaprabhu", presented by Pranita Kundu, Joy Kundu(on keyboard), Upasana Banerjee, Aheli Basu, Vedika Sengar, Arushi Bhatia, Ria Mukherjee, Shilpa Mitra and Nisha Singh. These young ladies created a devotional atmosphere for the puja that was performed next. After the puja, arati, pushpanjali and prasad, people got ready for the big event. Approximately 70 or more people were at hand to pull the Rath. July On 5th of July, we had Bipadtarini puja. Though it was during the day, we had about 30 people celebrated with us. The “Punar Yatra”, popularly called Ulto Rath was on the 7th. The chariot was pulled back again around our Temple premises with chanting and dancing. The event represents return of Sri Sri Jagannath Dev with his brother and sister to back home. The festivities ended after puja, arati, pushpanjali and prasad distribution. . Even though this event was held during the weekday, there was no lack of enthusiasm and lots of people were present. Last puja of July was the monthly Shyama puja on 26th of July. About 60 people gathered for this puja. August On 10th August, we celebrated Jhulan Purnima and Satyanarayan puja. We set up a Jhula (swing) decorated with flowers and set up Radha Krishna’s deities on it. While Satyanarayan puja was going on, assembled devotees were taking turn to move the swing to create an atmosphere as if Radha and Krishna were actually swinging in the moonlit evening. Rakhi Purnima also fell on this day. We had more than 125 people a t one point while puja was going on. At the time of Havan (yagna), Ms. Debarati Roy presented a few devotional songs. They were perfect for this evening. Our priest also performed “Harir Loot”, throwing candies towards the assembled people, that was enjoyable. On 17th, we had Janmashtomi, the Birth day celebration of Lord Krishna(Bal Gopal). The Temple was open from 10am to 10pm to accommodate all devotees offer their
pujas. People came throughout the day. The Janmashtomi Puja started in the evening. Dr. Manisha Chakravarty read from Bhagabat Geeta. She also told the ever-interesting story about the birth of Lord Krishna to the assembled devotees. The puja rituals continued with archana, stuti, arati and pushpanjali followed by prasad and dinner. On 24th August, we had monthly Shyama Puja. About 60 people assembled for this Puja. The last event of the month was Ganesh Chaturthi on the 29th. We celebrate it every year throughout the day and evening hours. A lot of people showed up to offer bhog, attend puja and offer pushpanjali. Prasad was distributed during the day as well as in the evening. Our upcoming big event is the Durga Puja starting 30th of September. Please check our website: www.anandamandir.org and also read Ananda Sangbad for our Durga Puja schedule and other important information. Acknowledgement of error: In the Puja Highlights article of the July issue of Ananda Sangbad, the editor made an error of describing the Rath Yatra on the occasion of Snan Yatra. There was no pulling of Rath for the Snan Yatra.
HERITAGE DAY By Krishna Dutta Roy, Chair, Puja Committee We celebrated India's Independence Day/ Heritage Day at Ananda Mandir on August 16th. A small stage was set up outside around the Flag Pole decorated with Indian Flags. Everybody gathered around there and the celebration started with Flag Hoisting by our president Dipak Sarkar with the help of our Priest Biswabhai. Everybody chanted Bande Mataram and did Parikrama (prabhat feri) around the premises of Ananda Mandir with flags in their hands, young and adult alike. Then came the national anthems. The American national anthem was sung first, followed by India’s. There were a couple of other patriotic songs ending with Bande Mataram. Participants of both the national anthems were Shreya Chowdhury, Malika Bhowmik, Shreya Mukherjee, Priya Mukherjee, Parma Das, Agree Sanyal and few other young friends. Dr. Dipak Sarkar gave a short speech on India's Independence. Next program was Ganesh Bandana, a dance by Shreya and Priya Mukherjee. Then three students of the “Rhythm of Dance and Music” school, Shilpa Mitra, Manisha Nath and Isha Mahapatra, performed a tribute to Motherland (Bande Mataram) through dance, under the choreography of their teacher, Mitra Purkayastha. One of our very young singers, Adwaita, presented a Patriotic song and a Rabindra Sangeet that charmed the audience. Another young talent was Roshmi, who sang a famous patriotic song Oi Bhubana Mano Mohini, perfectly capturing the theme of this song with her voice and heart. Amitabha Sen Gupta's recitation of patriotic poems of Rabindranath Tagore and Kabi Najrul Islam was admirable. He also read a piece from another writer, on the theme of Aamar Bharat, meaning its every body's Bharat, Hindu Muslim alike. Amitabha Bagchi talked about Independence, in plain English, to reach out to the kids. He Turn to page 11 >
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Another victim of unintended consequences of the Iraq war was the American economy. The money-spigot had to be opened wide to pour trillions of taxpayers’ dollars to support the war machine, the best and the smartest that world had ever seen. Though American economy in general is dominated by the military industrial complex, the drain was too high and too rapid, and sent the entire economy into a tailspin. Companies closed their doors in rapid succession. Federal subsidies to local towns were cut deeply. As a result, teachers and police officers were let go. Soon rate of unemployment pushed to a record high. This was followed by crony capitalism that lined the pockets of a few, mostly disingenuous bankers and Wall-Streeters,while the regulators looked the other way. People lost their homes, unable to pay their mortgages. This depressed the economy even further. Today, even after six years of shepherding by Barack Obama the economy can barely stand on its feet. Not all instances of unintended consequences end up with doom and despair. I am an environmentally green person, and my eco-friendly thoughts led me to consider installing solar panels on the roof of my house. Considering only about six months of yearly sunshine in the New England area where I live many advised me against such an idea. But I firmly held on to my belief that the idea has merits. How-
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ever, I must confess that my firmness wasn’t entirely driven by my eco-friendliness. The economics also looked pretty good in the long run. After some inquiry and searching the net I stopped at the door of “Green Monster,” a company contracted by NStar, my utility company to carry out an energy audit of my house. On the designated day and time two guys with a green-colored monster logo on their shirts appeared at my doorsteps. They spent nearly three hours checking the insulation, filling out any cracks with foam insulation and freely distributing energy-efficient CFL lights to replace old-style incandescent light bulbs. Finally they suggested that I install an extra layer of blown-in insulation into my attic to prevent heat-loss. How much will it cost? I asked anxiously. Three grand, but we’ll do it for tenth of the cost. Really? Who pays for the rest? I was bewildered. Well, your utility company. My utility company? What is their interest in reducing my electric bill and shrinking their profit? Sir, with large screen TVs, computers and all other gadgets demand for electricity is skyrocketing. So much the better for them, profit-taking must be skyrocketing too. Well, not really, they can’t produce enough electricity cheaply
of the major Jain temples adding a diverse “look and feel” to the predominantly Hindu ambience. Religious Highlights: Kanchipuram, the city of thousand temples is mentioned in Hindu scripture, Garuda Purana, as a “Kshetra” (place) which is a sacred ground, a field nurturing active power where moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death) can be attained. This could be the reason why Kanchipuram has seen building of major Hindu temples in India. The list includes some of the most prominent Vishnu and Shiva temples like the Varadharaja Perumal Temple for Lord Vishnu, and the Ekambaranatha Temple, which is considered the "earth abode" of Lord Shiva. Dedicated to Goddess Shakti (a Hindu denomination that focuses upon worship of Devi - the feminine force of nature), Kanchipuram houses the famous Kamakshi Amman Temple, which brings about a balance between the predominantly Shiva and Vishnu presence in the city. Kumara Kottam, Kachapeshwarar and Kailasanathar are some of the other prominent temples of Kanchipuram. Shiva temples: Located in the northern part of Kanchipuram, the gigantic Ekambareswarar is the largest temple in town, which was built in 600 CE, during the reign of the Pallavas. With India’s one of the tallest “gopuram” (gateway tower, 59m tall), this temple is considered one of the “pancha bhoota stalams” representing manifestation of the five prime elements of nature - earth, water, air, sky and fire. Ekambareswarar temple is therefore considered the “earth abode” of Lord Shiva. The Kailasanathar Temple was founded in 567 CE and expanded through the 7th century by king Rajasimha of the Pallava dynasty. It is considered one of the oldest temples
to meet the demand. As a result, they have to buy it from outside grids at a very high rate. In addition, in Massachusetts the utility companies are mandated to have a significant portion of the total electricity coming from ecofriendly sources. I still don’t get it. In order to provide uninterrupted supply of electricity to the customers NStar is asking its consumers to be energy-efficient. That is why they are ready to pay for insulating my house? Exactly! Nstar is also encouraging you to consider solar option. I am already considering it seriously. Solar panels were installed on my roof earlier this year. All is well. The other day I was driving to work when a reporter’s voice in the NPR channel caught my attention. She was talking about the solar conundrum in Hawaii. Conundrum, why? Am I in trouble? I was glued to the radio. The reporter went on – the electricity rate in Hawaii is one of the highest in the nation, yet the demand is ever-increasing. The utility companies, facing shortage earnestly appealed to the customers to go green. And it worked, really worked! Sunlight is plentiful in Hawaii, and more than 10% of the Hawaiian houses and businesses currently have solar panels on their rooftops. Carbon footprint has dropped significantly to the delight of environment-buffs. But, it has also created one unhappy
camper, the utility companies. With a glut of solar electricity their profit margin in selling traditional electricity has plummeted. She ended her report that Barclay’s Capital is poised to lower the value of utility stocks in anticipation. Utility companies in Hawaii are indeed victims of unintended consequences. Proliferation of solar electricity production in Hawaii, even at the cost of utility companies, is music to my ears. But the question is why we don’t see or ignore the opposite side of an action that we partake. Is it truly believable that the US government with highest caliber think tanks on foreign policy and warfare were completely ignorant about the Shia-Sunni divide or its potential to destabilize a nation or even the world, as Al Qaeda did - not too long ago, and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is doing now? Or, big utility companies were unaware of the consequences of making solar electricity too popular to make a serious dent in their profit margin? Is it fathomable that a person of high intellect like Vidyasagar did not see the consequences of his action towards social reform? The truth about why we often face unintended consequences is probably a complex mixture of ignorance (yes, no matter how smart we think of ourselves, in occasions we truly act dumb), avoidance of reality and wishful thinking (the opponent will not know my intentions), circum-
stances (the utility companies are mandated by certain state legislatures to have a certain portion of eco-friendly energy in the total electrical output), too high and unreal self-esteem (how can Bin Laden with his bazooka-totting rag-tag army of a few thousand people can stand in front of our might) and sheer (bad) luck (after years of prodding the people of Hawaii suddenly woke up to the bounty of sunlight). In addition, realization of the true nature of our action is often late in coming. In the wake of the possibility of a second Iraq war Pat Robertson, the televangelist, and Glen Beck, the fire-brand poster child of the right, admitted that ”going to Iraq” was a mistake, and rebuked former President Bush for selling snake oil to the American public to drum up support for the war and cover up lies*. Saddam Hussain must be turning over in his grave! The important question is – can we avoid consequences of an action that was not envisioned? It must be emphasized that instances of “good” outcomes are few and far between, and history of mankind is full of the other kind. George Santayana, the philosopher, essayist, and poet made the prophetic statement – “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Therefore, we are doomed either way! * The Daily Kos and the Huffington Post
Sapta Tirtha in India and professed by the Archaeological Survey of India as an astonishingly archeological monument. Kachi Metrali - Karchapeswarar Shiva temple - was also built during the Pallavas era. Hindu mythology has it that Lord Vishnu worshipped Lord Shiva in the form of a “Kurma” (tortoise) at this place. Vishnu temples: Located in a sub-divided part of Kanchipuram called the Vishnu Kanchi, the Varadharaja Perumal Temple is considered one of the 108 “divyadesams”, the holy abodes of Lord Vishnu. Initiated and built during 1053 CE with credits given to two Chola dynasty kings, Kulottunga Chola 1 and Vikrama Chola, the temple represents Dravedian temple architecture of 14th-15th century. The 23 acre huge premises of the temple complex displays architectural excellence of Vishwakarma - the architect of this universe and the Hindu deity of all craftsmen. One of the unique architectural beauties of this temple includes goldplated, carved lizards. Shakti temples: The famous Kamakshi Amman Temple was built during the Pallavas era in the 6th century and was further modified during the 14th-17th centuries. Uniqueness of this temple is that the Goddess is depicted in the form of a yantra placed in front of the deity. It is believed that Goddess Kamakshi of this temple prevails as one of the 51 Shakti Peethas mentioned in the scriptures as “Nabisthana Ottiyana Peetham.” Goddess Sri Kamakshi represents “Ka” meaning Goddess Saraswati (God of Education), “Ma” meaning Goddess Lakshmi (God of Wealth), “Akshi” meaning Eye. In essence, the goddess resides here with her two eyes representing Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati. The goddess in this temple
resides in “Gayatri Mandapam.” She lives here in three forms - Sri Kamakshi, Sri Bilahasam and Sri Chakram. Sitting in a posture of “Padmasana” (cross-legged, yoga posture), the goddess is depicted with Pasa, Angusa, Pushpabana and Sugarcane in her forehands creating a serene, attractive and prosperous appearance. There are some miracles mentioned in the scriptures related to worshipping Goddess Kamakshi. A common faith is that if prayed truly, the goddess provides child for the childless couples. The temple was once visited by a dumb devotee named Mookan who prayed and begged the goddess to free him from this dumbness so that he could sing poems in praise of the goddess. The goddess freed him from dumbness and blessed him with poetic intellect. Mookan then composed “Mookapanchashati” in praises of Goddess Kamakshi - her grace, beauty and power. Another religious significance of Kanchipuram is mentioned in scriptures as Satyavrita Kshetra where the Goddess worshipped Lord Shiva by creating a mud idol. To test the dedication of the goddess, Lord Siva incarnated as Kamba river and came in fiercely with high tides. The goddess grabbed the mud idol and held closely with her two hands to protect it from the high flowing river. Mythology has it that the goddess also worshipped Lord Shiva at this place by sitting on a needle tip surrounded by “Panchakagni” - 5 fires to free herself from the interests of livelihood. Lord Shiva was pleased and married the goddess. The period of Navratri, the phases of Brahmotsavam (a holy cleansing ceremony in honor of Lord Brahma) and Purnima (full moon day) are the special worship times for Goddess Kamakshi. Visiting the temple during these times to offer prayers to Goddess Kamakshi is considered exTurn to page 11 >
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ditional Bengali cooking. At the self-serve tea table, I made myself a cup of black tea. There was fat-free milk and Splenda to accompany the tea, but where was the regular sugar? “Would anybody prefer some Truvia instead of Splenda?” The hostess called out. “I will have some. Truvia is far healthier. What do you say Dr. B?” Mrs. Chatterji responded. Dr. B is an expert in Oncology. Without waiting for Dr. B.’s response, Mrs. Chatterji kept prattling about the virtues of Truvia over Splenda. Really, is there much proven difference between these two chemically processed sweeteners? It seemed that regular sugar in tea was out of fashion like pantyhose with open toe shoes. I must confess at this point. I have no clue about current fashion correctness in leg accessories – just wanted to throw in my fashionista daughter’s opinion here. It seemed people drank either black tea or use sugar substitutes. I like leaded black coffee only, but most Bengalis drink only tea. I generally refuse to be a bother, but I could not drink black tea. “Do you have any regular sugar?” I asked meekly. The hostess got busy digging out her Lenox sugar pot from the back of her china cabinet. I felt a tinge of guilt. It would have been alright with me if she simply plopped the four pound bag of sugar in front of me. In the mean time, the fabulous aroma of food attracted me to the kitchen. I knew that she ordered the dinner from one of the best cooks in the Chicago area. I spied the menu items laid out on the countertop, neatly covered with clear wraps. My hostess had a penchant for serving dinners in beautiful platters and bowls of superb craftsman-
Banga Sammelan 2014 in Orlando Reported by Amitabha Bagchi The 34th North American Bengali Conference (NABC), popularly known as Banga Sammelan, was held on July 4-6, 2014 in Orlando, Florida. The theme this year was “Banglar Rup o Rupkatha: The Canvas of Bengal.” The venue was the Hyatt Regency (formerly the Peabody) hotel situated close to the Orlando Convention Center. The event was planned collaboratively by the Cultural Association of Bengal (CAB) and several Bengali organizations of North America. The Bengali Society of Florida (BSF) served as the host entity. With attendees numbering between 3500 and 4000, NABC
ship that she collected from all over the world. Nestled among at least ten authentic Bengali dishes, there was a huge ceramic platter with big chunks of imported carp fish swimming in a fragrant onion, tomato, and cilantro sauce. Next to the fish, a bowl of equally delicious looking lentil stew with fish-head, a coveted delicacy in our community, sat in splendor. We would eat these delicacies with pristine Texamati rice, probably grown in the cotton fields of Texas. Until that moment I was making fun of bugaboos of others in my head. It was my turn to hold my own slippery one now. It was about eating fish and my fear. Let me explain. Soon after I arrived in this country, landing in Baltimore, I became involved with fishing. I loved catching spot and bluegill fish from nearby locations around the northern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Some of the best meditations I did in my life were while sitting quietly with my fingers on the fishing lines. Even untangling a line caught in the boulders protecting the shore was a spiritual experience. However, there was nothing meditative about fishing from the bridge over the Conowingo Dam in Maryland on the lower Susquehanna River. It was simply exciting. Big carp gave a good fight too. Silver herrings were also plentiful. Carp living in the churning river water underneath the dam were delicious and prized by the local Asian communities. I was young, strong, and ready to prepare big picnics for long days of fishing expeditions. Later, I would give dinner parties serving incredibly fresh fish curries and fish-head stews. I enjoyed teaching others how to fish. I read up everything I could find about fish and fishing. One of the re-
2014 was less crowded than its typical past incarnations in the mid-Atlantic region. This had its advantages and disadvantages: the crowd was easier to manage and cater to, but the finances suffered from the sparser attendance. The conference was hampered by unusually inclement weather up and down the East Coast for a number of days, which led to numerous flight cancellations and messed up many a travel plan. A large number of guests arrived late; some, like our Editor-in-Chief Pronoy Chatterjee, did not make it at all. The disruption affected performers and programs too. The Bengali band Chandrabindu had to have their performance re-scheduled from Friday to Saturday owing to travel-related issues. Two things in particular stood out as overall impressions of the conference – one good, the other less so. The good thing was that the whole thing, from accommodation to programs, was held under a single roof. The sprawling Hyatt Regency hotel offered its two towers to accommodate the conference attendees, and its cavernous
ballrooms were turned into two enormous auditoria. Smaller meeting rooms were used for literary seminars, movie showings, re-unions and so on. What marred the good impression though, at least in the beginning, was the desultory nature of the organization, where few signs were posted to direct traffic, and one had to bounce around blindly from corridor to corridor -- first to locate Rabindra Mancha (the main auditorium), and then get to either Vivekananda Mancha (the second auditorium) or Suchitra Mancha (for movie viewing) or the other halls of interest. Sadly, the Bengali names had been printed on paper, but no one had told the hotel management to paste them over (or next to) the nominal names of the ballrooms, meeting rooms, salons, etc. By now, after thirty-plus years of existence, Banga Sammelan has become structurally formulaic. It begins on a Friday evening with an elaborate Opening Ceremony. The Bengali part ends the following Sunday afternoon with a slightly less elaborate Closing Ceremony. These two “ceremonies” bookend many hours of Turn to page 14 >
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made references to what the previous speaker said and connected them with his own speech, and made the talk quite interesting. Last, but not the least, was the Ananda Mandir’s music group called Anandadhwani. They presented a few patriotic songs. Their last song Balo Balo Balo sabe, was joined by the audience that made it more enjoyable. Participants were Rik Sen, Ambalika Mukherjee, Lopa Das, Soma Dutta, Ranjana Sanyal and Sharbani Mukherjee. The day's program ended with the very popular O aamar desher maati, tomar pare thekai matha in the melodious voice of Arun Bhowmik – a tribute to our motherland. A delicious lunch was prepared by the volunteers of Ananda Mandir.
ports I read was produced by the USDA. It was about the concentration of PCBs on bottom feeding fish population and possible adverse effects on human health if consumed excessively. When I came to Chicago, the Great Lakes were not exactly pollution free. Bengalis were fond of eating carp and buffalo fish from the lakes. I could never get rid of the USDA information from my brain. I avoided eating fish even since even though I caught and prepared them with great pride in Baltimore. I had to do the same in Chicago as well. Otherwise, I would not qualify to be a cook. Who knows where the imported carp come from? Because of my fish related bugaboo, I was looking up the effects of PCBs few days ago. There were multiple articles stating that the ingestion of PCB may enhance N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA, a chemical in tobacco) initiated lung tumors in rats. At the dinner party, nobody smoked and the dinner should be technically safe for us. When I sat down with other guests, the importance of eating fish instead of red meat was being discussed with great gusto. However, my brain continued to agitate. Can we really outrun these bugaboos or should we simply embrace them? I kept the thoughts to myself.
1 Franken wheat: http://www.newser.com/story/169071/monsanto-sabotage-may-behind-franken-wheat.html 2 PCBs and NDMA: http://www.foxriverwatch.com/lung_cancer_pcbs_animalsummary.html 3 PCBs and NDMA: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/11796963
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tremely auspicious and beneficial. Travel Tips: Air: From all international airports flights are available to major cities in India – Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Chennai. From any major Indian airports, flights are available to Chennai which is 72 Km away from Kanchipuram. Travel by Train: Kanchipuram railway station is connected to other major railway stations in South India – Chennai, Pondicherry, Nagaercoil, and Madurai. Travel by Road: State-owned buses are available from Chennai to Kanchipuram. Both from Chennai airport and railway station, private cars and taxis are available to take a roadway to Kanchipuram. I love to travel by road or train when in India to get mingled with the people of the soil, getting glimpses of major towns and small villages revealing scenic beauties of the Indian landscape. Plan your trip to Kanchipuram during September through February when the weather is good with cool pleasant breeze that will make your journey a pleasurable one. Before I conclude this special write-up on Sapta Tirtha, here is a quick note: The root word in Sanskrit “Tirtha” is “Tri” which means to get rid of all sins to attain “moksha” or salvation from the cycle of birth and death. Hindus, therefore, are firm believers of visits to prescribed Tirthas like Sapta Tirtha and Char Dham. Stay tuned for the next Tirtha and stay blessed.
Ananda Mandir Seniors Forum ("Seniors Helping Seniors") Invites retirees and near-retirees to participate actively in Forum meetings and activities. Seniors Forum usually meets on the third Sunday of every month at 1:00 PM. However, the date may change because of conflict with other Ananda Mandir events. Please contact Debajyoti Chatterji (Cell: 908-507-9640) for latest updates on the meeting dates.
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The Cult of Smart Living < Continued from page 2
$200/Yr. for an average household, which means a payback period of a little over a year. The bottom line is with so much at stake (50% of Energy costs), anything that gets smart at managing my HVAC is real money back in my pocket. By the way, this can work your other thermostats as well, in case you attach it to them. The heart of the ‘learning’ is the sensors (NestSense Technology) packed in the device. Not just thermometers, but motion, light and a WIFI connection as well to reach out to real weather in your region. And it’s this world of sensors that is getting smaller and ubiquitous and is driving so many technologies today including smart consumer wearables. Although there is a “little something” behind the scene here - what NEST does not talk about is the data it collects about you and your lifestyle as part of its learning. Now you see why Google is paying attention!! NEST is in direct competition from Honeywell and also fighting some patent infringement lawsuits from the same company. Also, there are other players coming up (fast and furious) in this market, but nothing still is quite as sleek as NEST - just by looks alone. This baby is a real beauty with brains! However, NEST is only part of the market being referred to as Smart Living (Smart Homes or Home Automation). Home Security is where it all started. Home Security Home security was the only automation that we could think about even a few years back. 15% of homes in the US today have some kind of home security. ADT and Honeywell have been the big players here. This market is still growing and is expected to double in the next decade. Demand for more features like programming, integration to the iPhone ecosystem, etc., is where now the focus is. Competition is driving the prices down too. Traditional players have been joined in the home security marketplace by the cable companies e.g. AT&T, Comcast, Cox, and Verizon, all of which are bundling security along with other services. Home-improvement stores (Lowes, etc.) and many online retailers offer DIY sets from GE or other companies based on open standards. You can have a DIY system from Amazon that costs $125 to install and an optional
$10/month to monitor. I actually have mine; call me, if you need setup help, instead of a service provider (Zero monthly cost). And by the way, it has got a battery backup and additional backup to make calls over cell line in case the intruder decides to cut off the landline phone. Smart Home/Home Automation Smart Home takes automation a step further. Put simply, it is a system that gives you remote or automatic control of the rest of the things around the home. The systems that you can control include: • Security and monitoring systems : Alerting, Turn on/off, recording, activate/de-activate o Cameras o Door/Window Sensors o Smoke Alarms o Water Alarms o Programmable Door Locks • Other Devices o Lighting : turn on/off, dim o Appliances : Control / Program your appliances o Heating and Cooling : Temperature control, Turn on/off o Communications (telephones and intercoms) o Lawn Sprinklers o Shades • Entertainment : Home audio and video systems • Health In short, the concept of Home Automation is to connect all of these systems and devices so that they can be controlled from anywhere and react to one another. It’s not just about security anymore, but about anything that can be connected to the network. And, as someone put it, it increases the IQ of your home. Technology Now this is the geek part. Smart Homes (or Home Automation as it used to be called) has been kicking since 1978. It used to work over power lines and X-10 technology, which is still around. Today, home automation can be based on many different technologies, the most popular being Zigbee and Z-Wave which can run over a host of networks – power lines, co-axial cable, wireless cable, phone lines or a combination of them. Market Juniper Research predicts the Smart Home market will
grow from $25B today to $60B by 2017. Between $30/$50 a month you can implement a home automation system with the capabilities discussed here. So, it’s well within the reach of mass market today. And costs are declining. However, there is no single market leader. The market is fragmented and the cable providers (AT&T, Comcast etc.) are trying to take a pro-active role. Now Google’s buying of NEST seems to be setting the stage for more crowding of that space with leaders from other market segments (Microsoft and Apple) to sit up and take notice. The day and age of convergence, right?? 80% of the market growth is still predicted to be in the entertainment area. This probably explains why, in Aug 2013, the six largest U.S. luxury home technology providers merged to create the first national-level, full-service integrator, VIA International. Even though, home theater room setup and other entertainment related controls will continue to dominate the market, the other segments (health, security etc.) will continue to grow as well. The newer capabilities to look forward to are digital backsplashes in your kitchen and voice controlled (SIRI) features. As we bring the things in our homes onto the Internet, we run into the same kind of security concerns that we have for any connected device: they could get hacked. This has led to the paranoia over privacy to the point, where some NEST customers are returning their devices since the Google takeover. The data concerns are valid, but sooner or later your whole home will be connected. If Home automation seems futuristic. think of it in a different way. Can you imagine your home before remote controls? I cannot. This is where Smart home technology is driving us. We will be able to control all devices in our house through our tablet or phones. Maybe the switch will become obsolete … one day. And if everything is connected, a personal decision to stay home may trigger quite shocking reactions...
Recent Sahitya O Alochana Sessions at Ananda Mandir Reported by Subrata Bhaumik Sahitya O Alochana is a monthly literary and topical discussion forum under the aegis of Ananda Mandir. It completed its 6th anniversary in February of 2014, and in September 2014 will reach the milestone of organizing seventy two (72) sessions on wide ranging topics including literature, theater and movie, history, philosophy and religion, science and mathematics, economics and business, social issues, sports, and current affairs. These monthly sessions normally feature exciting and illuminating discussions on diverse subjects within the above-mentioned domains. The June-August period mainly focused on literary topics including one of the most famous international writers, a missed session on two giants of AfroAmerican literature, and a session on an acclaimed Bengali writer. June June featured a commemorative discussion on the legendary Colombian Nobel laureate novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who arguably was the world’s most notable literary giant in 20th century. Almost all of his works received enormous success; while his most famous novel “The Hundred Years of Solitude” was hailed by none other than Pablo Neruda, the towering poet of Spanish litera-
ture and a compatriot of Marquez, as the “greatest revelation in the Spanish language since ‘Don Quixote,” others in the west called it a “required reading for the entire human race.” Marquez is credited with taking Magical realism, an erstwhile not so famous and waning literary genre, to a really unprecedented artistic height. In Magical Realism, writers introduce marvelous, mythical, or surreal elements into otherwise realist expression. Such intermingling, the lack of distinction between the real and the fantasy, and the separation of author’s consciousness from both make it a remarkable and enjoyable human experience. A team of local Marquez fans including Amitabha Bagchi, Subrata Bhaumik, Dhriti Bagchi, and Anindya Basu made various presentations including Marquez’s overall career, selected readings of his famous works, literary reviews and obituaries written in his memory, and video plays of (1) an interview of the famous Chilean magical realist writer Isabel Allende on Marquez and (2) Marquez’s famous Nobel acceptance speech making a compelling case for Magical Realism in literature. Below is an excerpt from that speech.
“Poets and beggars, musicians and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination. For our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable.” July In July we were scheduled to hold a session on two leading Afro American personalities - Maya Angelou, one of the great renaissance women of our times, and the venerable Nobel laureate author Toni Morrison. Unfortunately, we had to postpone that event due to logistical reason. August This was a commemorative session focused on the accomplished Bengali author Nabarun Bhattacharya, the son of Bijon Bhattacharya (IPTA famed) and the venerable Mahashweta Devi. Nabarun is the author of the acclaimed novel, “Herbert”, for which he won the Sahitya Akademi Award (Bankim Puraskar), and which was turned into a highly praised and award-winning movie by Suman Mukhopadhyay. He also wrote “Kaangaal Maalshaat” (also made into a movie by Suman) and several novels based on a magic realist character called “Fyataru.” Turn to page 15 >
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COMMUNITY NEWS BFA felicitated Sudipta Bhawmik Reported By Sushmita Dutta based, member-supported, non-profit organization dedicated to preserve, renew, and share the culture of Bengal and India within the multicultural fabric of America and the world through the pursuit of art, music, literature, dance, theater, crafts and culinary activities. The organization was founded in
Picture (left to right): Dr. Nupur Lahiri, Alolika Mukherjee, Sudipta Bhawmik
Bengal Foundation of America, Inc. (BFA), Princeton, NJ, felicitated popular playwright, actor and director Sudipta Bhawmik on August 17, 2014 in recognition of his creative works and theatrical accomplishments - plays written, directed and staged by him. About Bengal Foundation of America, Inc. Emphasizing cross-cultural exchange in which all world can meet, Bengal Foundation of America, Inc. is a New Jersey
1993 About Sudipta Bhawmik: Making us proud, Sudipta Bhawmik has presented numerous well written and well-constructed plays to New Jersey and larger US-based Bengali audience. His plays have also been staged by professional theater companies of India. Thematic content of his plays, dialogues, characterization and an overall universal relevance (not just NRI issues) having human touch have been applauded by theater lovers both in the US and Kolkata with wide critical and audience acclaim.
With formal training received in theatrical arts in Kolkata under the tutelage of legendary theater workers and playwrights like Sombhu Mitra, Tripti Mitra, Saoli Mitra, Mohit Chattopadhyay, and others, Sudipta’s plays have been published in prestigious theater journals and translated to other Indian languages like Hindi and Marathi. His published book, Natak Samagra (Anthology of Plays) is a collection of seven plays in Bengali that endorse stories of Indian American existence; our struggles between reconciling with our past and scuffles to fit into present. These stories with human speck transcend the US-NRI boundary and hence have been recognized in the larger theater communities worldwide. Definitely, Sudipta is a talent amongst us in our NJ community and deserves the honor he received from BFA. Ananda Sangbad readers who may want to be a part of the organization, here is the contact information: BFA at Princeton, 4343 Route 27, Princeton, NJ 08540.
ICC Corner Reported By Soumyendra Seal The ICC Annual picnic, the primary activity of the community for this summer, was held on Sunday, July 20th between 11am and 5 pm at our regular venue at the Loantaka Park South Street Recreation Area situated at 480 South St Morristown, NJ. The weather turned out to be ideal for an outdoor picnic, and the seventy odd participants thoroughly enjoyed the day. The unseasonably cooler weather made the outing very enjoyable for all. All attendees were greeted with snacks which consisted of ‘jhaal muri’, barbequed vegetables and corn, chicken hot dogs and tandoori chicken accompanied by a choice of hot and cold refresh-
ments. The park has a very beautiful trail meandering through the woods, lake and other manicured open spaces, which many of the attendees strolled around. The adjoining field also provided an opportunity for others to try their skills at soccer, cricket, “hula hoops” and other outdoor activities. “Musical Chair” games were organized for the children and ladies, with prizes awarded to the winners and the runner-ups. A sumptuous dinner consisting of delicious goat curry and other Indian delicacies was thoroughly relished. Dessert consisting of fruits and ice cream was served at the end of the event. With the
end of summer, the ICC EC with the help of many of its members is very busy preparing for the ICC’s 22nd Durga Puja which will be held on September 27th and 28th. Ms Iman Chakraborty and her Band from Kolkata will be the featured artist of this event. They will be performing exclusively for ICC in the NY-NJ-CT tri-state area during this Puja. Along with that, there will be many other programs presented by the ICC members and other local artists. More details of all the above events may also be found at the ICC website www.iccgs.org. I wish all readers, a wonderful Fall Season and all the very best in the upcoming festivities.
Felicitation of Bikas Chandra Sanyal At Bharatiya Kala Kendra, New Jersey Reported By Nupur Lahiri A notable event of felicitation of Bikas Sanyal at the residence of Sri Parthasarathi Mukhopadhyay and Bharatiya Kala Kendra on August 22nd 2014 was attended by some elite Bengali group of New Jersey. The Guest of honor was Dr. Himangshu Bhattacharya. Superb musical presentation by students of Bharatiya Kala Kendra and Sri Parthasarathi Mukhopadhyay and Dr. Arindam Chakraborty was another highlight of the evening. Dr. Bikas Sanyal, born in 1937 in Mymensing, is the second of ten siblings and was the patriarch of the family. He is deeply connected with his brothers and sisters and their families and is the older brother of our own Tapas Sanyal of New Jersey. In January, 2014, Dr. Sanyal received the Prabashi
Bharatiya Samman award from the President of India for enhancing India’ image abroad in education and culture. On 1 February, 1960 he was asked to take charge of organizing the Residential Honors College (later renamed Ramakrisna Mission Residential College) in Narendrapur as Professor-in Charge under the guidance of Maharaj. He was the youngest head of an institution of that type in India at that time. In 1962 he became the Vice Principal and Head of the Department of Statistics. In 1965, he obtained Ph. D in Economics Jadavpur University. In September 1966, he left for Iowa State University to pursue post-doctoral research. In July 1969 he was invited as a Consultant at Turn to page 15 >
Did You Know? By Debajyoti Chatterji World’s Biggest School is in India City Montessori School (CMS) in Lucknow, India, has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the school with the largest student enrolment in the world. The school was founded by Dr. Jagdish Gandhi and his wife, Bharti, in 1959, with just five students. Now the school has close to 47,000 students in 20 campuses around the city. The school employs a staff of 3800 (including teachers, support staff, gardeners, electricians, even rickshaw drivers) -- and has over 1000 classrooms and 3700 computers. Average class size is 40 to 50 students. The school does not receive any government fund and charges a small tuition (Rs. 1000 to 2500 per month). The second largest school in the world, you ask? Rizal High School in Manila, Philippines, has just 19,738 pupils! (Source: www.DailyMail.co.uk/news/articles) Why We Don’t Get Heart Cancer Cancer is a dreaded disease that can and does attack virtually every organ in the human body. There is lung cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer, blood cancer, and the list goes on. However, there is no “heart cancer.” Why? In a recent article, Time Magazine explains that “Tumors grow when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably, but unlike cells in other organs in the body, the ones in your heart do not divide and multiply.” The extremely rare cases of “heart cancer” that are sometimes reported are actually sarcomas – tumors of tissue that begin growing elsewhere in the body first and somehow move to the heart. Most of such sarcomas are benign. (Source: TIME Magazine, Sept 25, 2014 Issue) Dogs Prefer Petting To Talking All dog lovers believe that they can communicate with their pooches – and that the loving conversation often aimed at the dogs by their owners are truly appreciated by the canine pets. Why else would they wag their tails when the owners call them by their names or shower them “good dawg” praises? An article in Huffington Post reports that “Surprising new research shows that dogs prefer petting over verbal praise. Even more surprising, the dogs showed no more interest in spoken praise than in having no interaction with the human at all.” Sorry, dog lovers, for casting a shadow over your affectionate verbal communication with your pooches. Now go and pet them instead. (Source: Huffington Post, Sept 7, 2014) Older Adults Think Better in the Morning If you are 60 or older, don’t try to do your crossword puzzles in the afternoon. Instead try doing them in the morning. New research shows that older adults think better in the morning. A group of Canadian researchers have reported in a recent issue of the journal Psychology and Aging that adults between the ages of 60 and 82 were less distracted and better able to perform cognitive tasks between the hours of 8:30am and 10:30am than in the afternoon, when their brains started “idling." So, read your copy of Ananda Sangbad (and Anandalipi) in the morning! (Source: http://living.msn.com/life-inspired/older-adults-thinkbetter-in-the-morning) Kid Weighing 130,000 Pounds and Still Growing? Back in 2005 in the Patagonia region of Argentina, a paleontologist from Drexel University, Philadelhia, PA, unearthed a huge dinosaur fossil, the first reported finding of that dinosaur species. Scientists have now succeeded in collecting all the fossil fragments of this giant dinosaur, and the animal is estimated to have been 85 feet long, 30 feet tall and 130,000 pounds in weight when it died. Not only that, the dinosaur was “still growing when he died,” i.e., he was not yet a full grown adult. This dinosaur was so big that he is now classified as a “titanosaur.” So how big was this titanosaur? It is the largest land animal that ever lived! New York Times reports that “The better-known Brachiosaurus weighed only 75,000 pounds. An empty Boeing 737-900 weighs about 93,700 pounds. A male African elephant, the largest land animal today, weighs a minuscule 15,000 pounds by comparison. -- Blue whales dwarf all land animals, past and present, growing to 300,000 pounds.” (Source: NY Times, Sept 4, 2014)
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HEALTH CARE AND MEDICAL SECTION “This column is prepared with the assistance of Dr. Rajat Bannerji (Member, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey; Associate Professor of Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School).”
Addressing Lifestyle and Diet among South Asian Diabetics Because of genetic risk factors, increased abdominal obesity, poor diet and sedentary lifestyle, people from South Asian communities have upto six times higher risk of diabetes compared to the general population. Fifteen to twenty percent of South Asians will develop type 2 diabetes, a prevalence that is seen in both south Asians living in developed countries and in those living in urban or rural south Asia. As such, it is a known fact that being South Asian is an independent risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes. To identify the reasons for suboptimal outcomes in diabetics as a whole, one need look no further than the noncompliance rate in diet as high as 60% and in exercise as high as 85%. This pattern may be even more significant in the South Asian, particularly Indian community. My role with this patient population, as an endocrinologist and weight loss specialist, consists of both pharmacotherapy and lifestyle planning. The latter aspect of diabetic management, places more of an emphasis on ‘healthy’ lifestyle, a term which is often misunderstood and poorly defined by practitioners. The first steps toward metabolic improvements in diabetes within the Indian community should begin with some common sense recommendations on lifestyle, which will be outlined in this two part series on Diet and Exercise. All diabetics should receive individualized medical nutrition therapy with a dietitian, regardless of whether they are prescribed medication for sugar control, and most areas do have dieticians specific for Indian cuisine. By no means is the following a substitute for a nutrition course, but rather an overview focusing on basic concepts. The typical Indian diabetic diet should be balanced and contain approximately 1800-2000 calories with proportion of 60:20:20 of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, respectively. In many of our on-the-go lives, staying within these dietary guidelines requires good discipline and attention to detail.
Portion size is one of the biggest obstacles faced by the the South Asian community on a daily basis. One way to combat excess caloric intake is to use different tools that can modulate our sense of satiety (the feeling of being full after a meal). A simple tip for lowering portion size is the use of smaller plates, particularly contrasting in color to the food being served. Multiple studies have shown that use of smaller plates makes the plate look more full and leads to lesser daily caloric intake. Both the timing and composition of a meal influences its effect on satiety. For example, the consumption of soup prior to a meal has consistently been shown to lower calories ingested for the subsequent meal. Additionally, a breakfast high in protein (such as egg white vegetable omelette) has a greater effect on satiety than protein at later meal times and is a great way to start your day. The ideal amount of carbohydrate intake for diabetics is uncertain, but a diet that contains carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and low-fat milk is encouraged. Fiber intake should be at least 14 grams per 1000 calories daily, and higher fiber content in diet has been shown to lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Whole grains, oats, channa atta, millets and other high fiber foods should be included in meals. If consuming white rice, pasta, or noodles, it should always be accompanied with vegetables and/or sprouts. Fruits and vegetables have been shown to increase satiety and decrease hunger as a result of their lower energy density, which results from higher water content and higher fiber composition than other foods. The fiber further aids diabetics by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates and leading to a slower rise in blood sugar after the meal. Fresh fruits are preferred over dry fruits which tend to cause a greater spike in blood sugar per cup consumed. However, not all fruits and vegetables are equal in regard to effect on blood sugar.
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songs, dances and dramas featuring performers from both North America and India. There are also literary seminars, movie screenings, college reunions, an Awards Ceremony on Saturday afternoon, and stalls by vendors selling an assortment of stuff. Finally, there is a post-Closing Ceremony paean to Bollywood where one or more background singers of Hindi movie fame belt out their latest hits to entertain a highly enthusiastic and raucous crowd dancing in the aisles. This year, the guest performers among singers from India in the Bengali section included two talented young artistes: Rupankar Bagchi and Shuvomita Banerjee. They sang both separately (i.e., individually) and also together in duets. They are both excellent singers, but one difficulty with the duets was that the pitches of the two were so wide apart as to be almost dissonant at times, and Rupankar’s voice cracked at least once as he tried to keep up with Shubhomita’s high soprano. A high point of the program was the stand-up comedy
By Sudeep Dhillon, M.D.
Dr. Sudeep Dhillon completed his Internal Medicine residency and Endocrinology fellowship at UMDNJRWJMS. He currently practices in Hopewell, NJ and specializes in Diabetes and Obesity management
Fruits high in fiber such as apples, oranges, pears, guava and papaya are preferred because of higher fiber content. Mangos, bananas, and grapes tend to be higher in sugar and should be consumed less preferentially in diabetics. High fiber vegetables such as broccoli, beans, spinach and leafy green vegetables should also be a key dietary component. In general, a diabetic diet should contain at least 2 seasonal fruits and 3 vegetables on a daily basis. Regarding fats, it is best to limit deep-fried, pan-fried, and batter-dipped dishes, especially in creamy sauce, as these foods tend to be much higher in calories and loaded with unhealthy fats. Samosas, pakoras, bhaji, and medu vada are examples of such that should be avoided. Grilled, broiled or baked dishes accompanied by vegetables are a better option than these fried foods. Healthy fats such as Omega 3 and MUFAs (pronounced moo-fah) are found naturally in avocados, nuts and seeds, pesto sauce and various oils (olive, canola, flaxseed, safflower, sesame, soybean, sunflower and walnut) and tend to be more beneficial for cholesterol metabolism. They are preferred over foods high in saturated and trans fat such as butter, paneer, ghee, and cream, which are prevalent in the Indian diet. As with all fats, we must consume in moderation, as they are by nature high calorie foods. Individuals are advised to take 5.5 ounces of protein-rich foods daily (approximately two to three servings) for a 2000 calorie diet, as recommended by the US Dietary Guidelines. Protein-rich foods include meat, seafood, eggs, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds; if meat is consumed, it should be lean meat. Fish is a healthier source of protein than red meat, given its lower saturated fat and caloric content. Milk (low fat preferred to whole milk) is the ideal combination of carbohydrates and proteins, and helps control blood sugar levels. Two servings of low fat milk in a daily diet is a good option. For vegetarians, lentil consumption is a great
Banga Sammelan 2014 routine of Kanchan Mallik. Adroitly making fun of his physical shortcomings, Kanchan had the audience in stitches and proved what a gifted comedian he is. He also excelled in his role as the police inspector in Swapnasandhani’s drama, “Thana Theke Aaschhi,” directed by Kaushik Sen. That play garnered high praise, in contrast to the other play by a Kolkata group (Bratyajan of Bratya Basu), which received only lukewarm reception from the audience. The highlight on the literary seminar front was the presence as invited guests of two young and rising stars of Bengali poetry, Srijato and Binayak Bandyopadhyay. They, and many literary enthusiasts of the Bengali Diaspora in the US and elsewhere, made for three memorable literary sessions devoted to different topics. As to the movie screenings, there were at least two Bengali movie premieres (Chaar and Shesh Bole Kichu Nei).and several other hit movies (Jatishwar, Aborto). The presence of Sandip Ray, the director of Chaar, was a big attraction and
source or protein that is generally low in glycemic index (lower spike in sugar after the meal) Now for a couple of tips that most Indian diabetics can implement from their pantry at home that should bring mild improvement to blood sugars over several weeks. -A handful of almonds over the course of a day will both improve the post-meal sugar excursions and help suppress appetite. -As little as 5 grams of methi seeds ingested daily in morning after soaking overnight has been shown to improve spikes in sugar after meals -Consistent intake of amla (indian gooseberry), either the fruit itself or 3 grams amla powder daily, has been shown to have glucose-lowering effect in just a few weeks. A good weight loss plan in a non-vegetarian diet involves addition of fish to the diet. Either lean or fatty fish is additionally a great source of protein with lower calories and saturated fat than red meat. Replacing red meat with fish is a helpful way to achieve weight loss and improve cholesterol levels. In the end, remember that with all facets of our diet, it is easy to binge on unnecessary food and accumulate larger than anticipated daily calorie totals. Replacing soda or juices with water, limiting alcohol intake, and sharing a dessert or appetizer at the restaurant rather than consuming these ‘side items’ on one’s own, are all effective means of limiting unnecessary calories. In managing obesity and diabetes, I am a strong advocate of patients performing a daily calorie count, which can be done with ease, via many tools available on the internet and smartphone applications. We must stop ignoring what we are putting into our bodies and understand the need for balance and moderation. As we will discuss next, this will allow for exercise to play an even bigger role, not just in preventing weight gain but sustaining the momentum of weight loss.
made for a lively panel discussion. Kelly Candele of Los Angeles premiered his documentary on the rivalry of Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in the context of Bengal’s recent history. Finally, on the classical music side, the audience was thrilled by the vocal rendition by Sandwipan Samajpati and the mesmerizing sitar recital by the maestro Shahid Parvez. Finally, after the so-called Closing Ceremony, NABC continued its entertainment program with pricey Bollywood artistes: first Sadhana Sargam, then Bappi Lahiri, and finally a singer with the unusual name of KK. (I gather from Wikipedia that it is simply the contraction for Krishnakumar Kunnath). KK does have a rich and melodious voice, but his songs were of recent vintage and wholly unknown to me. I could see however respect, admiration and enthusiasm in the eyes of the predominantly young members of the audience. Whether the Bollywood epilogue was cost effective or not, it certainly provided a raucous ending to the conference as the curtain was brought down on this year’s edition of Banga Sammelan.
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MENTAL HEALTH SECTION
Myth of Mental Illness By Nupur Lahiri, M.D. (Editor’s Note: We are pleased to debut this important column in Ananda Sangbad. The author can be reached at her email address, email@example.com) A few weeks ago I came across a story about a brilliant young engineer from Kolkata, trying to make his way in New York City with help of a caring dear friend. As his dreams of success dwindled, he became despondent and severely depressed. His friend arranged to send him back home to Kolkata to his close relatives. His condition deteriorated, his symptoms became grave, his emotional pain became excruciating, and eventually he took his own life. His family members including his sister who happened to be a physician did not seek any professional psychiatric intervention. This is one of many stories I have heard over some thirty years of my teaching and practicing career in the field of psychiatry. The stigma about mental illness amongst the general public is immense and crosses all walks of life, especially in India and amongst Indian immigrants to the US. The term stigma refers to problems of knowledge (ignorance), attitude (prejudice), and behavior (discrimination). As much stigma as there is in American homes regarding mental illness, it is much worse in other countries. In some parts of India, people perceive mental illness to be a curse caused by the evil eye or demonic spirits, others believe it is a sign of weakness, and yet others believe they are neurobiological disorders. In America, most people believe that mental illnesses are neurobiological disorders, while some believe they are a sign of weakness. However, it is important to remember that America is a melting pot of immigrants whose perceptions about mental illness are shaped by their cultural legacies. Each culture has its misperceptions of mental illness that can deter people from seeking lifesaving treatment. Reluctance to seek help or treatment is due to the following factors: lack of understanding by family, friends, coworkers or others; fewer opportunities for work, school or social activities; fear of harassment and ridicule; belief that Health insurance does not adequately cover mental illness treatment; and that one is never able to succeed at certain challenges or improve one’s situation. Cultural perceptions about mental illness, treatment and psychosocial rehabilitation can mean the difference between sanity and insanity, illness and wellness. It is time we dispel myths and misperceptions about mental illness, and utilize the healing power of education. Mental illness is caused by a complex web of genetic, developmental, neurobiological, psychological, social, environmental and other factors. And with early intervention and effective treatment, a whole lot of self-determination, hope, hard work, love and social support, people can re-
cover and thrive. What is mental illness? A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical (neuro-biological) conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life. Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and borderline personality disorder. When mental illness strikes, it can turn lives upside down. Some people may not even recognize what is going on, especially during a first episode of the illness process. Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individualized treatment plan. As people become familiar with their illness, they recognize their own unique patterns of behavior. If individuals recognize these signs and seek effective and timely care, they can often prevent relapses. However, because mental illnesses have no cure, treatment must be continuous. One of the most important principles is this: recovery is a process, not an event. The uniqueness and individual nature of recovery must be honored. While serious mental illness impacts individuals in many ways, the concept that all individuals can move towards wellness is paramount. Mental Illness: Facts and Numbers 1: One in four adults−approximately 61.5 million Americans−experiences mental illness in a given year. One in 17, about 13.6 million live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder. 2: Approximately 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 experience severe mental disorders in a given year. For ages 8 to 15, the estimate is 13 percent. 3: Approximately 1.1 percent of American adults—about 2.4 million people—live with schizophrenia. 4: Approximately 2.6 percent of American adults−6.1 million people−live with bipolar disorder. 5: Approximately 6.7 percent of American adults−about 14.8 million people−live with major depression. 6: Approximately 18.1 percent of American adults−about 42 million people−live with anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder and phobias. 7: About 9.2 million adults have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders.
Recent Sahitya O Alochana Sessions at Ananda Mandir < Continued from page 12
Dhriti Bagchi led the session by providing an overview of Nabarun’s works and personal life. She also shared some video clippings on him including Bhattacharya’s own reading of his famous poem “Ei Mrityu Upotyoka Aaamaar Desh Na (This Valley of Death Is Not My Country.” Other prominent members of our alochana group including Sudipta Bhawmik, Subhodev Das, Nupur Lahiri, and Amitava Sengupta read some of Nabarun’s humorous and magical realist works and poems. Future sessions – Quite a few interesting sessions are in the pipeline for the up-
coming Fall season including a reading of his own works and discussion on contemporary Bengali writings by Binayak Banerjee; a leading light of the new wave of Bengali literature, the missed session on Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison; a scientific cum philosophical discussion on whether “Time is real or an illusion,” and an Urdu poetry session accompanied by musical (vocal) recital of the same. The organizers and the friends of Sahitya O Alochana would like to thank Ananda Mandir for its continued support for the forum’s contribution to the cultural enrichment of the local Bengali and Indian communities
Mental Health Treatment facts in America African American and Hispanic Americans used mental health services at about one-half the rate of whites in the past year and Asian Americans at about one-third the rate. The Impact of Mental Illness in America Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year. Mood disorders such as depression are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults ages 18 to 44. Individuals with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions. Over 50 percent of students with a mental health condition age 14 and older who are served by special education drop out of school−the highest dropout rate of any disability group. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. (more common than homicide) and the third leading cause of death for ages 15 to 24 years. A few words about a common and highly treatable illness namely: Depression Major depression is a mood state that goes well beyond temporarily feeling sad or blue. It is a serious medical illness that affects one’s thoughts, feelings, behavior, mood and physical health for more than two weeks. Depression is often a life-long condition in which periods of wellness alternate with recurrences of illness. Each year depression affects 5-8 percent of adults in the United States, about 25 million. Depression occurs 70 percent more frequently in women than in men for reasons that are not fully understood. Without treatment, the frequency and severity of these symptoms tend to increase over time. Major depression is also known as clinical depression, major depressive illness and unipolar mood disorder. It involves some combination of the following symptoms: depressed mood (sadness), poor concentration, insomnia, fatigue, appetite disturbances, excessive guilt or hopelessness and thoughts of suicide. Left untreated, depression can lead to serious impairment in daily functioning and even suicide, which is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Most people diagnosed with Depression can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in a combination of treatments, services and supports. Alas, the young engineer did not get a second chance to preserve his life and dreams. He did not see a single mental health professional throughout his long fight against depression. For too long we have swept the problems of mental illness under the carpet... and hoped that they would go away. Richard J. Cody, former New Jersey governor.
Felicitation of Bikas Chandra Sanyal < Continued from page 13
International Institute for Educational Planning, UNESCO, Paris and was offered him a faculty position as its Programme specialist. He and his wife moved to Paris in November 1969. Bikas Sanyal designated Narendrapur Mission as his permanent residence to the United Nations. During his tenure with IIEP, UNESCO, he traveled to 77 countries of the world in connection with his work on higher education and wrote numerous books on higher education management. He retired from UNESCO in 1998 but has remained an adviser to the organization. In 2000, he became the Director of India
House at Cité Universitaire, Paris where Mrs. Sanyal joined as the honorary cultural attaché. He has expanded the scholars’ residence with comfortable additional facilities with plans for future improvements. President of France decorated him as Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour,) highest civilian award in France in 2007 for his contribution to the development of higher education around the world. The audience had the pleasure of viewing a presentation of his life’s work and recitation of beautiful poetry by Mrs. Priti Sanyal. The evening ended with a sumptuous dinner and desserts.
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COMMUNITY NEWS Kallol Corner
Membership catagory changes for the 2nd quarter of 2014. New Life Members: $1000 to $4999 1. Manoj & Sudeshna Ray 2. Jnan & Gita Saha: 3. Saikrishna & Anupama Kottam Gangeddula 4. Bashkar & Krishna Menon: 5. Rajarshi & Samragnee Majumdar: 6. Dipankr & Suvra Dutta: 7. Biswajit Sarkar & Girija Belvadi: 8. Dilip & Sefali Guharoy: 9. Sachindra & Amardeep Sood: Patron: $ 5000 to $ 9999 1. Manash & Tapash Chakraborty: 2. Rupak & Bandana Raha: 3. Tapan & Subhra Chaudhuri: 4. Asit & Debjani Bhattacharya: 5. Saurav & Sharmila Ghosh Grand Patron-Silver: $ 10,000 to 24,999. 1. Jayanta & Indrani Dutta: 2. Chandrajit Bhattacharya & Devi Mukherjee: 3. Barid & Sriparna Chakraborty: Grand Patron-Gold: $ 25,000 to $ 49,999 1. Dipak Sarkar & Shirley Sanderson: 2.Pronoy & Swapna Chatterjee: 3. Pranab & Krishna Duttaroy: 4. Surya k. Dutta: Benefactor: $ 50,000 & up. We have a new Benefactor but he doesn't want to publish his name. We will put it as a anonymous donor.
Reported By Arijit Chatterjee Amidst all the hustles and bustles of the Summer, Kallol successfully celebrated the Annual Summer Cultural Event on July12 at the Cross Roads South Middle school, South Brunswick, NJ. The event received overwhelming response from the community, and several local organizations performed on a Kallol stage after a long time! Eminent musicians from Kolkata, Anupam Roy and Nipabithi Ghosh enthralled the crowd. Like every year, the Kallol members assembled in good numbers at Merrill Park, Colonia NJ to celebrate our Annual Summer Picnic on Aug 23. There were foods galore as usual, fun and prizes for the kids and adults alike. Finishing the summer on a high note, the organization is all set to organize a “Kallol Youth Day” on Sep 21, 2014 at 2 pm at the Franklin Senior Center, 505 DeMott Lane, Somerset, NJ. We invite kids to participate in various fun- filled activities, talent shows / auditions (for NJDP).There will be mehendi , face painting, balloon art, nail polish art, and many more activities. Now comes our marquee event of the year,
NJPA Corner Reported By Manideepa Ghose As of April 2014, NJPA has elected a new Executive Committee. The primary responsibilities are held by the following persons: President - Avijit Sen Vice President - Sebika Basu Treasurer - Pankaj Mishra General Secretary - Manideepa Ghose Members at large – Aparajita Sengupta, Soma Mokherjee & Kaushik Dey After a very long time, we are experiencing a unique blend of
OUTSTANDING VOLUNTEER OF ANANDA MANDIR Based on the deliberations of the Awards and Recognition Committee, Ananda Mandir Board of Trustees has announced Rina Ganguli as an outstanding volunteer of the organization. Whenever people think of voluntary service with a smiling face at Ananda Mandir, the name of Rina Ganguli comes up. Rina has been associated with the organization since its inception, and has become a dependable member of the core group of volunteers. She works in various areas of need: serving food during large events, cleaning up before and after an event, helping the priest with puja materials, bringing up supplies to mandir as needed, and many other things that are generally ignored or forgotten as noticeable. She is available at odd hours in time of need at the Mandir and spends most of her spare time doing some work there. She likes to avoid the glory of limelight and is quite comfortable staying in the background. Rina is highly sociable and very friendly with all her compatriots in the community. She is there with a compassionate smile whenever a neighbor is in distress. People love to be with her because of her polite demeanor and respect for fellow community members. At Ananda Mandir, she has proved to be an outstanding volunteer.
which we all so eagerly look forward to – The NJDP 2014 ! NJDP, Kallol’s own Durga Puja constitutes the busiest occasion for our members and wellwisher fraternity. The event is slated for Oct 35, 2014 at the Ukranian Center, Somerset, NJ. Along with welcoming, greeting and worshiping Jogojjononi Maa Durga, we have come up with a nice bouquet of evening concerts for each of the three days of the weekend. In addition to the performances by our local talents, several top rated musicians from Kolkata and Mumbai Lopamudra, Srikanta Acharya and Monali Thakur, will perform. The executive committee is busy, shuttling between conference calls, meetings and making necessary arrangements to ensure the celebrations go smoothly. Puja registrations have already begun at www.kallol.us; so please do check out our website for more information regarding the puja. Come and enjoy the NJDP 2014 with us and be a part of the Kallol family as you have always been.
young and old, meshing new ideas with old wisdom. NJPA is taking long strides toward a fresh new horizon. Our very first event in 2014 was Swaranjali, a beautiful, nostalgic musical event held on June 21st. Coming up next is the annual picnic on Saturday, Sep 6th at Woodlot Park in Kendall Park. That will be followed up by our signature event, one of the oldest ‘Baroari’ pujas in the tristate area, Kali Puja & Diwali festival, on Oct 18th.
Last but not at all the least, the New Year’s Eve bash is on Dec 31st. Please stay tuned to WWW.NJPA.net for time and other details. NJPA is working on several new ideas to reach out to the community and beyond. Please keep in touch. Thanks from all of us at NJPA with greetings and best wishes for the upcoming Puja season.
ANNOUNCEMENT Please note that you can become an Associate Member of Ananda Mandir by donating a minimum of $50. Your subsequent donations of $50 or more are credited to your account. When your total cumulative donation reaches $1000, you become a Life Member. Your support, small or large, is most wel-
come and sincerely appreciated.