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Sharad Utsav 2013 (Autumn Festival) Bengali Cultural Society, Reading

11th, 12th & 13th October Rivermead Leisure Complex Richfield Avenue, Reading, RG1 8EQ


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Message From Chairman Dear Members, Friends, Patrons, Sponsors, Advertisers and Well- wishers,

With great pleasure, I welcome you to this the first ever Durga Puja celebration in Reading. In the autumn of every year, communities across our social framework get busy to celebrate their respective festivals be it Durga Puja, Navratri, Dussera, or Sharad Utsav, the Autumn festival . This is the time to get together to invoke Mother Durga, the goddess of inner strength Sakti, to help us conquer all evils in our lives. We shall celebrate this victory of good over evil, of joy over jealousy, of merriment over meanness, and of participation over pettiness. This is the quintessential aim of our Reading Sharad Utsav 2013. On this occasion the spirit of Utsav or Festival goes hand in hand with religious customs. Without festivities religion is dry, inaccessible and at times meaningless. Should festivals be always replete with rituals, colour, songs, dances, performances? The proper concept of festival is more than that. Here we turn to Rabindranath Tagore, the great poet and thinker , who in his essay on Dharma (religion) expressed that the notion of Utsav is a celebration of diversity, in which everyone is accommodated and where both individuals and groups can come together in ever expanding circle of inclusion and integration. We in Bengali Cultural Society follow the same principle by including other communities to share the joy of Sharad Utsav with us. When we first mooted the idea of holding Durga Puja in Reading there was enthusiasm and scepticism in equal measure. Then over the weeks and months we traded the same path to arrive at the destination, that is this day when we are ready to celebrate Sharad Utsav with abounding love and goodwill. Our journey so far has been made possible by the overwhelming support of so many people and we cannot thank them enough for all their help, advice and contribution in so many ways. Organising this festival and Durga Puja in this scale required untiring and selfless efforts from all our members and especially by those on the Puja Steering Committee. By the time the festival ends I am sure we will have made some mistakes and there will be things that could be done better. We will learn from our mistakes with your support and encouragement we will continue our journey next year and years to come. Let us all come together to spread good wishes and happiness all around through our prayer and celebration. Chandan Bhowmik 10th October 2013 Ya Devi Sarva Bhuteshu Matri Rupena Samsthita Ya Devi Sarva Bhuteshu Shakti Rupena Samsthita Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu Shanti Rupena Samsthita Namestasyai, Namestasyai, Namestasyai Namoh Namah!

(Meaning: The goddess who is omnipresent as the personification of universal mother The goddess who is omnipresent as the embodiment of power The goddess who is omnipresent as the symbol of peace I bow to her, I bow to her, I bow to her again & again.)

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30 Westland Avenue, Reading, RG2 8EN. Contact: 0118 931 4412

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Table of Contents

Message from Chairman

Chandan Bhowmik

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About BCS & Puja Schedule

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Cultural Events

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Meaning of Puja or Worship

Swami Dayatmananda

Durga Puja Festival

Ajoy Sen

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Why do we celebrate Durga Puja?

Sukumar Sengupta

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My Journey to Three Different Worlds

Suprovo (Aakash) Banerjee

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BCS Drawing Competition Entries

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A Tribute to Rituparno Ghosh

Abhishek Banerjee

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Lucky Boy

Sohom Haldar

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Dreams

Tribikram Chakrabarti

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Old Fort

Baidehi Sarkar

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Protima Puja

Deepti Banerjee

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Winners of Photography Competition

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Arise! Awake! Stop not until the goal is reached!

Sayandeep Das

Pujor Khushi

Ayan Biswas

BCS Events of the Past

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Rendezvous

Sreecheta Saha

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দূরভাষ

Sudeshna Banerjee

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An Interview with our Uncle : My First Trip to India

Anjali Nandi & Sonali Nandi

The Earth

Ayush Sinha

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Helplessness

Arushi Singhal

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Cover Page Artwork by Sohini Das, winner of BCS Drawing Competition Brochure design by : Nandini Sinha Website: www.durgapujareading.com

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About BCS Bengali Cultural Society, Reading is a non profit making cultural organization set up by the local Bengali community in 1982. As one of the oldest cultural organisations of its kind, our mission is to practise and preserve Bengali culture and its literary, artistic and educational heritage. We provide a focal point for Bengalis in and around Reading & Berkshire and help to foster and promote the rich cultural heritage of Bengalis and Indians. BCS welcomes anyone sympathetic to its causes who wants to join and participate in any of its activities. We’d like to thank Reading Borough Council, Rivermead Management and all our members, sponsors, contributors, and patrons for their continuous support. Patrons: Dr. Archana Gargav, Dr. Ashok Gargav, Mr. Alok Sharma MP, Dr. Mani Karim, Dr. Apurba Chatterjee Chairman: Chandan Bhowmik Durga Puja Steering Committee: Prosenjit Banerjee, Sangita Nandi, Sudeshna Banerjee, Shipra Saha, Ratna Ghosh, Himangshu Dey, Abhijit Chakraborty, Milan Biswas, Parantap Das, Rana Ray, Siddhartha Sinha, Sirshendu Ghosh, Mridul Mazumdar, Nandini Sinha, Jayita Guin, Sujoy Haldar, Partha Ghosh, Neeraj Agarwal, Saswati Ghosh

Puja Schedule Friday, 11th Oct

MAHA SASHTI & MAHA SAPTAMI 9.00 – 11.00 Sashti Puja 11.00 – 13.00 Chandipath & Saptami Puja 13.00 – 14.00 Pushpanjali 17.00 – 18.00 Sandhya Arati & Pushpanjali

Saturday, 12th Oct

MAHA ASHTAMI 9.00 – 11.00 Chandipath, Ashtami Puja & Pushpanjali 11.00 – 12.00 Sandhi Puja & Pushpanjali 12.00 – 12.45 Kumari Puja 12.45 – 13.30 Botuk (Shiva) Puja 13.30 – 14.30 Yagna & Pushpanjali 17.00 – 18.00 Sandhya Arati & Pushpanjali

Puja will be conducted by Mr. Kalyan Banerjee and assisted by Prosenjit Banerjee. Chandi Paath by Mrs. Deepti Banerjee

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Sunday, 13th Oct

MAHA NABAMI & MAHA DASHAMI 9.00 – 12.30 Chandipath, Nabami Puja, Yagna & Pushpanjali 13.30 – 16.00 Dashami Puja, Boron, Sindur Khela & Dhunochi Naach


Cultural Events Our aim is to involve the children and young people of all communities and provide them with the opportunity to experience the rich heritage of India and the diverse culture of Britain. While enjoying learning new things, they would also be able to express their emotions in the form of dance/drama; interpret music and text using their distinctive style and sound, and integrate any new information to their existing learning. Workshops in the daytime will include “Art & Craft” (Saturday & Sunday), “Explore Drawing Techniques” (Saturday) and “Semi-Classical Dance” by Udok Performing Arts (Sunday)

Fun-filled traditional competitions will include “Sonkho/Conch-shell Blowing” (Saturday) and “Dhunochi Dance” (Sunday). Highlights of Cultural Programs on the evening of Friday 11 Oct –

“Classical Vocal Evening” by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan students of Mrs. Chandrima Mishra, accompanied by the students of Pandit Rajkumar Mishra on Tabla.

Performance by St. Crispin’s School Chamber Choir and Chamber Orchestra

Melodious Bollywood Songs by Dnyaneshwar

Songs by the students of Manoranjan School of Indian Music

Kathak dance by the students of Piyali Basu from Indian Arts Centre

“Language of Innocence” by the children of BCS

Ending with “Garba/Dandia” with live music by Gujarat Samaj, Reading

Saturday 12 Oct –

“Shakti” - Classical Dance Presentation in Bharatnatyam style by Kalakunj

Performance by All Saints Church Choir

দমফাটা হাািসর নাটক – Comedy Drama “BhimBodh” by Prabashi, Woking

“Golden Melodies of Bengal” by Udayan, Oxford

Classical and Modern Dances by Anindita & Payel

Contemporary Songs & Dance by the children & adults of Probashi, Woking

Bollywood Dance by the adults of BCS

Sunday 13 Oct –

Performances by Udok Performing Arts (famous Dance Group from India) – 1. “Durga” – a spectacular Classical Dance Presentation 2. “Boond” – an enchanting Classical/Bollywood Dance Presentation, reflecting the monsoon season of India

“Sure O Chhande – Sharadanjali” by Udayan, Oxford

Songs by Ratna Ghosh and adults of BCS.

Children‘s Dance performance by “My Danceland”

Bollywood Dance by the adults of BCS

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Meaning Of Puja or Worship By Swami Dayatmananda (The Centre Leader-Ramakrishna Vedanta Centre , Bourne End

Puja or Worship of God is man’s supreme act. Through Puja man has to raise himself to the peak of his being and personality. All the traditional ritualistic sadhanas are meant to prepare man for this act, to purify him and to heighten the spirituality of his being. One must become God to-be able to worship God, says the scripture. (Devo Bhuutva Devam Yajet) This is the first step.The second step in the worship of God is to get into a special relation with the Deity. Worldly relationships have limitations, while relationship with God is one without limit or reservation. There can be no secrets between God and his devotees.To get into this unreserved relationship with God one must have a knowledge and understanding of the Tattva (Philosophy) and Vaibhava (Glory) of the Deity one worships, for it is these that make up the personality of the Deity. To know the Tattva, the Vaibhava and the angas (parts) of the Divine Mother we go to the book Devi-mahatmya. Her angas are Lakshmi, Saraswati and Kali. The Tattva is deeper. Says the Devi-mahatmya: ‘You are Omkara, You are Rik, You are the unutterable Savitri, You are the supreme knowledge, and supreme ignorance; You are supreme intelligence and memory, You are behind both the divine and demonic forces’. From Om, the symbol of the Supreme, to material and gross manifestations of energy, the Mother pervades everything. She is behind good and evil, behind beauty and ugliness, behind the spiritual and the material. In short she is the Shakti or power behind everything that exists or lives. Thus Sakti is the Tattva of the Divine Mother. Here is offered a meditation, purifying and powerful, so that the devotee may immerse himself in the Mother’s benign yet elemental powers. In enunciating this Tattva-aspect the Devi-mahatmya has done an unusual feat of putting the personal beyond the impersonal. The Mother who is the personal aspect of the Deity is described as the embodiment of impersonal Tattvas like Vidya, Maya, Smriti etc. Normally it is from the impersonal and the unmanifest that the manifest takes its rise. But here to enhance and heighten the greatness and magnitude of the Mother-incarnation, the order is reversed and the personal is put above the impersonal. The Vaibhava of Divine Mother is her exploits, her victory over the asuras, Madhu, Kaitabha, Mahishasura, Sumbha and Nisumbha, etc., for the protection of the devas, her granting the boon to the king and Vaisya—all of which are described in the Devi-mahatmya. Meditation on this Vaibhava aspect brings out the triumph of the Daivika over the Asurika self in ourselves even as the meditation on the Tattva aspect, in addition to helping us channel the Divine Mother’s Shakti into ourselves, enables us to harmonise in one synthetic meditation the two apparently opposing concepts of the personal and the impersonal. These meditations are essential and tangible helps to bring about a complete and real worship of the deity. For those who are unable to rise to these sublime heights of Upasanas (meditations) the scriptures prescribe ritualistic worship (Pujas). The worship of God in the form of Mother Durga is celebrated all over India and abroad with great joy and enthusiasm. The worship usually begins on the Shashti, 6th day evening with the infusion of Prana (Bodhan or awakening) into the image, and ends on the tenth or Vijaya dasami day with worship and immersion of the image. The significance of the puja ceremony is made clear by the following incident in the life of Sri Ramakrishna. Mathur Babu was celebrating the worship of Mother Durga with great eclat. The presence of Sri Ramakrishna made the occasion all the more joyous. At last the day of immersion came. The priests were ready to start the ceremony of immersion. Let us read the story from the ‘Great Master’. “The seventh, eighth and ninth days of the fortnight passed in great joy. It was the morning of the tenth day (Vijaya Dasami). The priest was hastily finishing the Mother’s brief worship for the day; for the looking glass had to be immersed at the moment prescribed in the almanac. The image itself was to be immersed after sunset. Mathur was oblivious of all this. He had yet no idea of the approaching moment. His heart was swelling with joy as before. Having brought the Mother of the universe to his house and enjoyed the blessed company and grace of Father, Mathur was experiencing a fullness of joy within himself and was forgetful of the outer world. Just at that time word came from the priest, that the “immersion ceremony” of the Mother was about to take place. He wanted to know whether the Babu would be pleased to go to the worship hall and pay his obeisance to the Divine Mother before that ceremony. Mathur could not even understand at first what was said to him. When he came to understand it after questioning those about him, he became conscious of the fact that it was the tenth day, the Vijaya Dasami. 8


As soon as this knowledge dawned on him he was stunned, as if he had received a severe blow on his head. Filled with grief and pain, he began to think, “The Mother is to be immersed today! Why? No, I cannot break up this ‘fair of bliss’. Oh! The immersion of the Mother! I feel suffocation even to think of it.” Mathur was immersed in such thoughts and began shedding tears. In the meanwhile, time was nearly up. The priest was sending word every now and then, “Babu, please do come once and stand. The Mother’s immersion has to take place.” Mathur felt much annoyed and sent word, “I will never allow anyone to immerse the Mother. The worship will continue as it is going on now. If anybody immerses the Mother without my approval, a grievous disaster is sure to happen. There may even be bloodshed and murder!” Saying so, Mathur sat in a very stern mood. Seeing his master in this strange mood, the terrified servant moved away, and going to the worship hall, told the priest everything. Exaggerated news reached Jagadambadasi, the mistress of the house. Overwhelmed with apprehension and alarm, she requested the Master to try to persuade him. For who but Father was there to save them from danger? Who knew if the Babu’s brain had not really been deranged? The Master came and saw Mathur deeply absorbed in thought and pacing up and down the room with his face sombre and eyes red. As soon as he saw the Master, Mathur came up to him and said, “Let them say whatever they like, Father, I cannot bid good-bye to Mother before I breathe my last. I have told them that I shall perform Her daily worship. How can I do without Mother?” Passing his hand over Mathur’s heart, the Master said, “Oh! Is this your fear? But who says that you will have to be without Mother? Moreover, where will She go even if the ceremony of immersion be gone through? Can a mother afford to be away from her child? Sitting in the outer hall She accepted your worship these three days. She will now be nearer to you. Sitting in your heart, She will hereafter accept your worship.” Needless to say Mathur went joyfully to witness the immersion ceremony. Here then, in a nutshell, is the significance of image worship. As long as we are incapable of seeing God within ourselves we need all these external aids. The moment we perceive divinity within we no longer need any external aids like images, pictures, icons etc. In fact they drop off the spiritual aspirant naturally. May the Divine Mother bless us all with Bhakti, Viveka and Vairagya.

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Durga Puja Festival By Ajoy Sen

The five day Durga Puja festival is considered to be one of the biggest festival among Bengalis residing in West Bengal. Durga Puja is not only celebrated in West Bengal, but also widely in Bangladesh and in other regions where Bengalis reside, including in cities abroad. God in the form of The Divine Mother (Shakti) is worshipped with great joy and enthusiasm. Durga Puja is Kolkata’s most important festival and is an occasion for glamorous celebrations during September/October every year. In West Bengal Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and members from other religious groups happily participate in this celebration. Durga Puja festival starts on the day after Mahalaya, on the last day of the waning moon, sometime in September or October, and is spread over a period of nine to ten days – the festivity of Dussera, which is also celebrated at this time of the year by other Hindus. The Durga Puja Events: Maha Shashthi, 10th October 2013 (sixth day) – On this day Goddess Durga arrives to the mortal world from Her heavenly abode, in the company of Her children. She is welcomed with much fanfare amidst the beating of the ‘dhak’, gong and cymbal. Unveiling the face of the idol is the main ritual on this day. ‘Kalparambho’, the ritual performed before the commencement of the puja precedes ‘Bodhan’, ‘Amontron’ and ‘Adibas’ rituals. From the day of Sashthi, community gathering, celebrations and feasts begin with great fervour. Maha Saptami, 11th October 2013 (seventh day) – In the wee hours of Maha Saptami, the ‘Pran’ or life of the Devi is brought from a nearby river or pond in a banana tree and established inside the image. A banana tree is dressed as a new bride in yellow silk saree with a red border- the ritual is known as Kola Bou Snan. The priest carries the tree in a grand procession from the river or pond to the Durga Puja pandal accompanied by the drummers. There is a divine ambience in the air. Kola Bou or Navpatrika is taken to Lord Ganesha as His bride. In this ritual, nine types of plants are worshipped as a symbol of Goddess Durga. Kalparambho and Mahasnan are preceded by the Maha Saptami puja. Maha Ashtami, 12th October 2013 (eighth day) – the day after Saptami, was traditionally the buffalo sacrifice day to commemorate the victory of the Goddess over the buffalo-demon Mahishasura. However, these days there are no more animal sacrifices on the day, vegetables like gourds have replaced the buffalos. The devotees of Goddess Durga start the celebrations of Maha Ashtami with the recital of Sanskrit hymns in the puja marquees, offering ‘anjali’ to the deity. The worship of little girls, called Kumari puja, is a significant attraction of the day. In the evening, Sandhipuja is conducted, which marks the inter-linking of the Maha Ashtami and Maha Navami. Maha Navami, 13th October 2013 (ninth day) – a significant day of Durga Puja festivity. The day begins after the end of Sandhi puja. On Maha Navami, the Navami bhog is offered to the deity. This food is then treated as Prasad (consecrated food) which is distributed to the devotees/congregation participating in the Puja celebration. Dashami, 14th October 2013 (tenth day) – this is the last day of Durga Puja, when a tearful farewell is offered to the deity. This process is called Visarjan, wherein a grand send-off is arranged by the devotees. The idol of Goddess Durga, amidst a long procession of devotees, is brought to the nearest river or large body of water for immersion. This event is also called Vijaya Dashami. After Visarjan people offer each other sweets, and it is the custom among married women to smear each other with vermillion known as ‘Sindoor Khela’. It is thus a time for social get together. People express good wishes and give Durga Puja gifts to dear ones. Implications of Durga Puja – worshipping of the image of Goddess Durga, the Eternal Mother, destroying the demon Mahishasura is symbolic of the final confrontation of the spiritual urge of man with his baser passions, ultimately leading to triumph of good over evil and unfolding of his divinity. May this first celebration of Durga Puja undertaken in Reading in 2013 be a very joyous and memorable one.

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Why do we celebrate Durga Puja? By Sukumar Sengupta

Do I want you to believe that Goddess Durga exists in earthly or spiritual sphere to help us out? Well, I do not know. Then why do we take her name, worship Her or bother to go to the place where She is worshipped? The story goes that Mother Durga comes to earth every year with her two daughters Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi and Goddess of Learning, Saraswati and two sons, Lord Ganesh, the God of Achievement and Lord Kartik, God of Youth & Courage. When we worship Durga we pray also for qualities of her children in us. Durga used to come to earth in the Spring, so Basanti (Spring) Puja used to be observed mostly in the past. Nowadays Durga Puja is observed in Autumn (September/October) to associate with the virtuous King Ram’s worship of Durga for power to defeat the Demon King Ravana of Lanka (now Sri Lanka) who abducted his beautiful wife Sita while he was in exile in forest for 14 Years. To defeat Ravana, Ram took the help of monkey army and worshipped Durga in Autumn, instead of the Spring (called Akalbodhan i.e not in time ). In Indian mythology Durga is the daughter of Himalaya and married to Shiva, one of the three main Hindu Gods, Brahma, Bishnu and Maheswar (Shiva) responsible for creating, maintaining and destroying the world (the concept of Trinity). It is said that the holy river Ganges originate from Shiva's matted hair-locks. Mahadev agreed to contain Ganga’s forceful cascading force of water in his matted locks so that it may not wash away the earth to the ocean. Mahadev guessed the vein and audacity of Ganga and made her locks so designed that Ganga became a captive in his locked hair. But the forefather of Rama, King Bhagirath, determined to liberate his ancestors started a long penance that pleased Mahadev who at last released Ganga from his matted locks in several flows. When I travelled by foot to the 10sq miles iceberg Gau Mukh in the Himalayas I thought I was on a pilgrimage, perhaps on account of cultural association. The Gau Mukh iceberg looks like a huge pale green pearl and the sound of ice chunks breaking on the mountainous surroundings falling below and floating on the stream called Ganga creates a feeling of awe and wonder to both believers and non believers alike. Could this be the place where Goddess Durga lives with her husband in the Heaven and every autumn She comes to earth with her children so that we can worship her to overcome the evils from the demon (within us or outside) or injustice? I know this may not satisfy the questioning mind of many including the young people of this generation. Science has not yet proved that God exists and all matters including any form of life originated in the process of evolution and they all end up in energy from which new matters and new life develop. Instead of going into any controversy, I conclude with another story. Recently, I went to Japan where two atom bombs in 1945 devastated the country. One Dr Takashai Nagai, a Japanese catholic doctor experienced devastating radioactive power of atom bomb. Before dying from leukaemia, he wrote that it is not through any peace initiative or a treaty, but by praying mankind can overcome such future disaster. Whether God exists or not, we perhaps need to create a god and pray to overcome the evil in and around us that bring disaster to society. Praying to Durga once a year with members of families, friends and neighbours provide us the joy of celebrating something that bind us together culturally. As for my self, I love to attend and celebrate all religious and cultural ceremonies not just Durga Puja. Do you?

Reading’s Durga Protima from Kumartuli Kolkata Created by : Prodyut Pal 12


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Best Wishes to Bengali Cultural Society

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My Journey to Three Different Worlds….. By Suprovo (Aakash) Banerjee (12 yrs old)

The clock struck 10. I was supposed to go to bed now - however, I still haven’t started my dinner! My cousin Neel was playing Angry Birds on my laptop while I was thinking about tomorrow’s big day. Whenever I am in India, I always have visitors throughout the day and until late night. Ultimately, Neel left with his parents and I went to bed at 11:30pm thinking that it will be only a few hours sleep as I need to wake up at 4am next morning. I was woken up by a shout – “It is 4:40am! The car is going to arrive in 20 minutes!” Everyone rushed out of bed and the scene became very similar to “Home Alone” except that there was no electric fault – everyone thought that someone else would set up the alarm clock and NO ONE had done it! The initial plan was to go by train but my mum did not agree to it as the trains are always crowded and it is difficult to get a seat! But I like the trains in India – their doors and windows are always open and there are so many different types of people boarding the trains. Me, my parents, Dida (my grandma) and Mama (maternal uncle) started our journey by car at 5.15am. The sun was up and it was already very warm. We had a bumpy ride until we reached the National Highway. Our first stop was Dakshineswar. The temples at Dakshineswar are more than 150 years old. There is a Kali temple, Vishnu temple along with 12 Shiva temples. My dad had a bath in the river Ganges. He asked me to join in as well but I did not. I touched the water though. We first offered our puja at the Kali temple and then at the Vishnu temple. Then my mum made me to go to each Shiva temple to do “pranam”. Why did they build so many temples of the same God in one place? But I enjoyed ringing the big heavy bells in all the 12 temples. Then we sat in Sri Ramakrishna’s room for some time. I had to close my eyes and try to meditate. We then went to Nahabat – Sri Sarada Maa’s room. I was surprised by the size of the room – how could she have spent most of her life in that room? And can you imagine who were outside the Nahabat? – Monkeys of all different sizes. The little ones were pulling each other tails, their parents were sitting and watching them. They were so near me that I was scared first but then I realised that they were not harmful – they were also enjoying our company. We were very hungry now as we did not have time for breakfast in the morning. There were several shops of Kachuri and Samosa outside the temples. So I had the opportunity of a nice hot and yummy breakfast at last. Our second stop was Sri Sarada Math. This had been founded 59 years ago for the women monks of Sri Ramkrishna and Sarada Devi order. There I met someone whom I have met in Reading last June - Divyaprana Mataji. She seemed to be very happy to see us and gave us lots of “Prasad” in a box. There were other Matajis as well and they were all very welcoming. Now I was beginning to get tired and sleepy. All I wanted was a bed and I wanted to go home. But there was still another stop to go which was a big one: Belur Math. This is another organisation of the men monks of the Ramakrishna order, founded 115 years ago. Even being religious organisations, both Belur Math and Sarad Math does a lot of community service – they run many schools, colleges and hospitals for the people of India. My Mama is a doctor in one of their hospitals. After a drive of about 10-15 minutes, we arrived at the grand gate of Belur Math with a guard standing in front. Dida said that nowadays cars are not allowed inside for the public. However, when the guard saw my Mama, he opened the gate for us. Did I mention before that my Mama is a monk of Belur Math? Our car went through the gate. It was like entering the Buckingham Palace. The place looked very grand with beautiful gardens and huge temples. Now it was, in fact, very hot. First we went to the main temple. We took our shoes off and went inside. I was amazed how big a temple could be. This temple was as huge as a cathedral! No one spoke inside the temple there was complete silence. The atmosphere was so calm and peaceful. We sat together on the floor of the temple and I looked around while others were meditating. There were sculptures on the walls, pillars and ceilings. When I came back outside, my shoes were piping hot! Then we visited the temple of Sri Sarada Maa and Swami Vivekananda beside the River Ganges. Mama hurried us to the Ramakrishna Museum as it was getting late. I was again very tired and hot! I could not concentrate and sat down on every seat in the museum I came upon. Soon the bell rang for lunch. People had to queue for lunch but not me, as it is my “Mamar-bari”! We went to a big hall – the seating arrangement was on the floor. There were plates and glasses ready for us. We all sat down on the floor to eat. The food was served by young men dressed in white and two monks were supervising them. The food was simple but delicious. We then said goodbye to Belur Math and started our journey back home. I was getting sleepy in the car but kept on thinking about my bell-ringing in the temples, the monkeys and the Kachuris at Dakshineswar, the smiling face of Divyaprana Mataji at Sarada Math and the calm and peaceful environment of Belur Math. And I also could not help thinking that my experience at Belur Math was good but when I visit my Mama at Benaras, I usually get more taken care of and very much pampered by the other monks and the staff - they all become my new Mamas and friends. That is my actual “Mamar-bari”!

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Entries for BCS Drawing Competition

By Jaishree Biswas Ya Devi Sarva Bhudeshu

By Mrinmoyee Majumdar (6 yrs old)

By Senjuti Manna

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A Tribute to Rituparno Ghosh By Abhishek Banerjee "আবার একটা ররাববার..."

সময় "আবহমান" ররাজের "উৎসজব" আমরা ভু জে যাই অন্তজরর "অসুজের" "দহণ" তু মম "জেো" রেজ়ে চজে রেে "োজনর ওপাজর" - আে এক মাস! "সানগ্লাস" পজর "জদাসর" রোোঁজে মন....আোপ হয় "মততেীর" সাজে, বৃমির দুপুজর "বাম়েওয়ামের" "হীজরর আংটি" পজর েুোঁেজত আজস "জরনজকাট"। "মচত্রাঙ্গদার" নবেজের সাজে রেষ হজয় যায় "োস্ট েীয়ার" "১৯রে এমিে"-এর "জচাজের বামে" ধুজয় রেজে রচাজের েজে.... স্বপ্নগুজোর হে না "শুভ মহরৎ" - তাজদর ভাজেে শুধুই "জনৌকাডু মব" ঘুম রভজে রদেোম "সব চমরত্র কাল্পমনক!" রেষ হজয় রেজে স্বজপ্নর রসই "বাহান্ন এমপজসাড" রকউ রকউ বজে "তাহার নামটি রঞ্জনা" - রকউ বা "সতোণ্বষী" আমম বমে "জমমমরস ইন মাচচ"..... এইভাজবই রেষ হজয় যায় "আর একটি রিজমর েল্প" অন্তজরর "অন্তরমহজে" আজস েূনেতা... "ফাসচট পারসন" আর রবজরাজবনা এই ররাববার - বা রকান ররাববার ..... ভাে রেজকা ঋতু দা - রযোজনই আজো! - অভিষেক ব্যানাভজি

Lucky Boy By Sohom Haldar (9 yrs old) Sourav, the ten year old secret agent was heading for spy headquarters. He had just found out that a really cool video game that almost every child in the world wanted was terrorising their lives! He was told to be on the case to stop Manz, the hideous monster who was causing all this chaos! When he arrived at headquarters he met Doctor Dev who was going to transport him into the game. The next minute a screaming, scorching ball was smashed upon him and he fell asleep. The moment he woke up he was in a snowy, strange field. When Sourav stood up a giant laser gun fell in front of his feet. Suddenly, a herd of robot cows were impressively charging at him and shooting mega -fast bullets at him . Amazingly, Sourav was actually flying! So, he shot down all the cows and had a striding stroll in the field. Out of nowhere, a door which had the number ‘two’ on it approached him and Sourav eagerly thought he should open it. Next, he discovered that he was in a colossal robot in the middle of a deserted desert. A robot which looked just like him was standing in right next to him. The robot said that he had to duel him to death and if Sourav won he could go onto level ‘three’ and if he lost he would die painfully! So they had to have a fight. Sourav was so bad that he got punched in his robot’s head so many times! When all hope was lost Sourav gave a master mighty punch which made his opponent explode! A laser softly struck him and sent him off to level ‘three’. He murmured to himself, ‘that was cool’! All of a sudden a mouldy, old chair was vigorously attacking him! They realised that they were on an active volcano and all the more Sourav was severely acrophobic! The chair was making him go to the edge of the treacherous volcano. When the chair swinged at him he quickly got out of it’s way and the chair fell in the volcano. All of a sudden, Sourav was out of the game and had defeated Manz’s invention. Sourav was back at headquarters where everyone was cheering. There were party decorations everywhere and his friend Freddie, was funnily wearing a clown’s hat. Everyone was thanking him for saving the world. Sourav felt proud for what he had done. But what he didn’t know was that right at that moment Manz the menace monster was planning another one of his wicked plans to rule the world ….

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141-145 Caversham Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 8AU info@standardtandoori.co.uk

Properties 103 London Street Reading RG1 4QA 0118 956 7722

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Dreams By Tribikram Chakrabarti (13 yrs old)

DREAMS – illustrations in one’s mind, one’s soul paints about him. Sometimes remembered, mostly forgotten. They can frighten or inspire, can be pleasant or mortifying. In dreams only we are free to see things in the soft haze of a spring day or red fire of a long winter’s evening. In a dream there are no limits and anything is possible. Dreams feel real while we're in them and nothing surprises us, it's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange Since the beginning of time, people have been trying to understand the different functions of the human body, and one area of the human body that has had researchers and scientist confused is the mind. So Psychology the academic and applied discipline for study of mind was developed, one of the most fascinating and mysterious sections of psychology is that of dreaming. We spend one third of our lives sleeping and 15-20% of that time is spent dreaming; that is more time dreaming than we do watching Television. But dreams are one of the topics we know the least about. But why? Because dreams can only be seen or felt in the unconscious state of mind there is no accurate way of observing or recording dreams. Dreams mainly occur during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, when brain activity is high and there are continuous fast eye movements under the eyelids. The brain activates the grey matter (the bit that does all the thinking) and recalls your memories of that day. Because the barrier that separates the grey matter from the white matter (the bit that does all the sensing) doesn’t operate when the body is in a state of unconsciousness the thinking part gets mixed up with the feeling part and you have a dream. Where scientists define dreams as random, philosophers say dreams have a meaning. According to Plato the Greek philosopher “Dreams were merely messages received from gods”, so they are a representation of our lives, allowing us to analyze and understand the hidden messages in our thoughts. This dreaming-to-discover is specifically called Tibetan Dreaming. Tibetan Dreaming is the idea that the waking world is an illusion and the only truth is in enlightenment, which is achieved through good deeds, discipline, and meditation. Another slightly different form of dreaming is Jungian Dreaming, the idea that some dreams that are seen by more than one person become less personal to the dreamer and more relevant to the human collective. This can also be called Collective Unconsciousness. To dream is to starve doubt and feed hope. Dreams though not made up of matters and particles are real; they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories. Dreams give us a sense of hope and motivation to achieve what seems impossible. We all have dreams, but the difference is how we realize our dream, how we obtain our dream, and how our dream changes us. As Langston Hughes once said Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die Life is a broken-winged bird, That cannot fly

Bideshe Sharat—Photograph by Prosenjit Banerjee 19


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The Old Fort By Baidehi Sarkar (10 yrs old)

May and Mark were spending their summer holidays with their grandparents while their parents went on a trip to Paris. Grandpa was always lazy as a crocodile, but grandma was full of stories and delight. One day when the twins came home they went past the old fort, there was ivy crawling and creeping through the walls. The structure looked like it would fall to pieces if someone touched it. "Let’s ask gran about the fort" muttered May. The twins ate their dinner, which were fish and chips, hungrily. Mark asked gran about the fort at dinner, but got no reply. However, when they got ready to sleep, she told them about the fort, how kings and queens ruled the place. She hesitated, then continued "do you know that there is a mysterious person in the fort that directs people through the ocean like a lighthouse keeper? No one in the whole village knows who he is, it really is a mystery!" chuckled gran. The following night would be an adventures and surprising night for them. Quickly, May zipped up her sparkly fluorescent red jacket and tiptoed out of the room with Mark. The night air was refreshing for a while but shivered their spines and turned their fingers numb. The silver moon shimmered in the sky lighting up the path but turned the lovely green trees wicked and gloomy. Swiftly, May followed Mark across the sandy beach to an ancient wrecked boat, which in day time would have been there hangout place. Suddenly, a man appeared from the village and started to climb to the top of the fort with a torch. "Who is that?" wondered May. As she tried to sit comfortably on the sand, two massive boats came to shore and unloaded brown sacs. "Quick! Get those corals quickly to the boss!" snarled one man. “We want these sent to the local black market before sundown!” “Yes sir! Absolutely!” babbled another. May gasped in horror, how could they? "Look! There is a little girl spying on us!" roared another man. May turned for mat but he seemed to have disappeared! As fast as a rocket, May sprinted through the beach to the fort. Fortunately, she had won many races outside and inside school and was very fast! It looked like the mean man have been winning some medals too, as he caught up with May and grabbed her by the arm. Evilly, he glared at her with his black, sharp eyes. May didn't know what was going on next; it was as if Mr. Mean was getting beaten up. When she opened her eyes there was an unconscious man lying on the floor and a bearded man was smiling at her. He looked like grandpa but without the beard. Cries were heard from down below and the police appeared at the scene. As quick as he came the stranger went too. But he had left some evidence for her: his false beard! Now she knew why grandpa was lazy! Happily she approached her relieved brother.

Lulworth Cove by Subhajit Bhadra (14 yrs old)

By Senjuti Manna

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Protima Puja By Deepti Banerjee

িমতমা পূোর আবেেকতা পূো বেজত নানা মুমন নানা অমভমত িকাে কজরজেন। আবার অজনক েম্ভীর বোেোও আজে। েুব সাধারণ ভাজব পূোর বোেোয় বো হজয়জে পূো হে নানা দ্রবোমদ দ্বারা রদবতার অচচনা। েন্ধ পুষ্প ননজবদে দীপামদ অপচন রসটা সব সমজয় করা হজয় োজক। তাহজে মূমতচ পূোর আবেেকতা রকাোয়? স্বামী মবজবকানন্দ বজেজেন, মানুজষর স্বাভামবক িজয়ােজনই মূমতচ নতরী হজয়জে। যত মদন িমতমা পূোর িজয়ােন োমকজব, ততমদন অনুষ্ঠান পদ্ধমত ও রসাপান োমকজব। পূো বা আরাধনার কারণ জ্ঞ্োন োভ করা; যাহার মবমভন্ন ভাজব উজেে আজে - রকাোও ব্রহ্মস্বরূমপমন, মহােমি, রকাোও মচেয়ী। ঠাকুর শ্রী রামকৃ ষ্ণ রদব বজেজেন িমতমাজত রদবতার আমবভচ াব হজত রেজে চাই িমতমা, চাই ভিজদর ভমি ও পূোর সামগ্রী - তাহজে রদবতার সমন্নমহতেন পায় মবশ্বাস। ইহাই মূমতচ পূোর আবেেকতা । এই বেস্ততার যুজেও মানুষ রোোঁজে আনন্দ । আমরা িমতমা রদজে আনন্দ পাই, অজনের সাজে রমোজমো করবার সুজযাে পাই, মঙ্গজের সজঙ্গ মমমেত হজয় অজনক আনজন্দর আমবভচ াব হয । রবীন্দ্রনাে ঠাকুর বজেজেন,-- মার আমভজষজক এজসা এজসা ত্বরা মঙ্গে ঘট হয়মন রয ভরা--মহামানজবর সাের তীজর---বতচ মান যুজে দুেচা পুো এক মহামমেন িাঙ্গণ, রযোজন রকন্দ্র মবন্দুজত আজেন মা দুেচা । সজবচষং মঙ্গে ভূ যাৎ সজবচ সন্তু মনরাময়া সজবচ ভদ্রামন পেেন্ত মা কমিৎ দুুঃে ভােভজবে---(েরু়ে পুরান) এই িােচনা যত আন্তমরক হজব তত সুদর ূ িচামরত হজব মাতৃ পুোর আরাধনা । ---যা

রদবী সবচভূজতষু েমিরুজপন সংমহহতা---(চন্ডী)

রহ রদবী, আপমন েেৎ পােন করুন, আপনাজক রকাটী িনাম । - দীভি

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ব্যানার্জ্জী


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Photography Competition 1st Position-Ma’er chorono phool by Jaishree Biswas

2nd Position-The Highlands of Scotland in a crisp winter morning, by Sukanya Das

3rd Position-Homeward Bound by Sayamdeep Das

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Arise! Awake! Stop not until the goal is reached! By Sayandeep Das (14 yrs old) In this present world where technology and industries are growing rapidly, it would be daft of us to forget about our motherland, and legendary people who led her to greatness. One of the great aspects of India is her spirituality and tradition. There is no better man to consider than the eminent Narendranath Datta a.k.a Swami Vivekananda. Sri Rabindranath Tagore- “If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything positive and nothing negative.” Early life Narendranath Datta, or little Naren, was born to Vishwanath Datta and Bhuvaneswari Devi on 12th January 1863. His family was rich and renowned for charity. Naren was a dynamic child, interested in music, games and sport. At the same time he had a natural devotion for spiritual matters. He would meditate on images of Hindu idols. He was very kind to the poor and would give away anything that he could find, to help others. Naren was selfless from birth. At the feet of Sri Ramakrishna (1881) He studied and absorbed Western thought and this implanted a spirit of critical inquiry in his mind. Narendranath roamed with the question, “Sir, have you seen God?” He did not receive a convincing answer. After many days, he was at the feet of Sri Ramakrishna. Thus came the historic meeting of the two souls. “Sir,” Narendranath asked. “Have you seen God?” Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa answered, “Yes, I have seen him as clearly as I see you here, only more intensely.” At last, here was one that could assure Narendranath from his own experience that God existed. All that was left of him was to follow his way. The disciples training began. In 1884, Vishwanath Datta passed away. Narendranath’s family suffered from many troubles. His master suggested him to pray to the mother Kali at Dakshineswar for alleviation of the family’s distress. Three times he had been asked to go to the mother Kali, yet he did not ask for material assistance. He prayed for renunciation and devotion. At last, the master blessed him that his family would not suffer from poverty. The wandering monk After the death of Sri Ramakrishna in 1886, few disciples gathered around to take the vow of a Sanysa. Towards the end of 1888, he began to take temporary excursions away from the Ramakrishna Math he was creating, with an intense desire to discover his mission in life. He travelled extensively through India to U.P, Maharastra, Kerala, Mysore, Madras Gujarat and Hyderabad. The unique meditation at Kanyakumari India had always held fast to Dharma, he observed, even through the times she suffered and sought material prosperity. The whole of Indian culture was saturated with spirituality. He realized Indian culture could not be understood apart for her Dharma traditions. Inspite of Vivekananda’s love for his country, he was not blind to her faults. He observed poverty, lack of education, the misery of woman as well as the cast system that had ruled India over the centuries. What was the way out? How could India be regenerated? He searched for answers to these questions.

At Kanyakumari, he prostrated himself with tears at the feet of Mother Kumari. Bearing the pain and suffering of millions of Indians raging in his heart, he swam across a turbulent sea to a rock of the south coast, and sitting there for the whole night he went into meditation. It was not a meditation on God but instead on mother India, for him who was the Divine Durga incarnate. He saw in his heart of hearts that India would only raise through a renewal of highest spiritual consciousness of oneness which made her, throughout her history, the cradle of religions and cultures. After meditation on 25th, 26th and 27th December, he discovered his mission. Narendranath transformed into the future Swami Vivekananda. Sitting at the last bit of rock on the Indian Ocean, he took the momentous decision of going into the west for spreading India’s traditions to seek help. He decided to visit America to present Hindu Dharma in the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. At this moment he had a dream where Sri Ramakrishna was out on the sea and beckoned him to follow. This coupled with the blessing from Sri Sarada Devi- the spiritual consort of the master settled the question for him. His journey commenced on 31st May 1963. Contd….

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America respects him He was a stranger in that land and had not anticipated the difficulties to undergo. He bowed down to the Goddess Saraswati and began his speech. “Brothers and sisters of America.” That single sincere evocation touched the hearts of the audience. They burst out in applause. When Vivekananda delivered his speech, it made him world famous. “America maybe advanced in technical development but they have to learn from India about spirituality.” Many people in England wanted to talk to him so he went there too. After touring and lecturing extensively, he returned to his motherland. Belur Math Everyone in India was waiting to give him a hero’s welcome, but he was not interested. He exclaimed, “Stand on your feet and be men! If you want to develop India develop three things. First feel for the poor and the suffering. They are all your brothers. Secondly, help them correctly. Give them food and shelter. Third, you must have strong will. EVEN IF THE WHOLE WORLD STANDS AGAINST YOU, YOU MUST STILL DARE TO DO WHAT YOU THINK IS RIGHT!” He started, by the name of his master, a Mission at the banks of the Ganges, near Calcutta. To fulfill the mission of Vivekananda, monks are giving service to the poor in the fields of education, medical aid, and natural disasters like floods and droughts. Final days On 3rd July 1902, his brother disciple went into his room and saw Swamiji sobbing. “Are you not feeling well Swamiji?” “No dear. I presumed you were asleep. No my dear, I am not sick. But I cannot sleep as long as my country suffers. I was crying and praying to Sri Ramakrishna that we may see better days.” He died on Friday 4th July 1902 meditating and praying that his country may cherish. Can you believe that? You cannot compare his will power to another in this world. Such a selfless person who gave up everything to achieve his goal for the benefit of others? We should all be inspired by Swamiji and follow greatness in his footsteps. Work hard and you will see the results- this is the motive that Vivekananda lived on. We must meditate and get to know ourselves and be at one with others. Spread spirituality across the world and lead India to greatness. So I finish with this: Stand up! Be bold! Be strong! Take the whole responsibility on your shoulders and know that you are the creator of your own destiny. All power is within you! With determination and faith in your heart, you can do anything and and everything and do not believe that you are weak. So stand up and express the divinity within you!

Pujor Khushi By Ayan Biswas (16 yrs old)

Durga Puja is a time which many Indian youngsters living in England may relate to Christmas time when they embrace excitement and joy. For me, celebrating Durga Puja in India as a child was a thrill which captured my imagination and filled me with joy hope and intelligence about my culture. It may be hard for these youngsters to comprehend the atmosphere of a Durga puja celebration in India. However I can confirm there are similar fundamentals of the Puja to Christmas and one them is Unity. Waking up to a house filled with family members from far away; all here for the celebration. The TV and radio are both on to fill the home with Mahalaya music and TV programs to set the minds of the children into a world of puja. The buzz, which starts from months before, to buy family members new cloths and receive new cloths yourself, is an indescribable emotion as a child. The Puja season is truly enjoyed more as a child as there are no responsibilities, only benefits. The sight of cousins embracing you to say hello and the sound of laughter and banter between family members fill the halls and each room. The excitement of deciding who will be sleeping in which room all adds up to leave the young mind at a stage of euphoria. Then when night time approaches, the noise of Mahalaya music being played in the streets alongside the beats of the dhak and the tingling audial sensation of the kashor ghonta bring on an unstoppable urge to dance and let loose. The bursting colours of fireworks in the sky alongside the sizzling of the Tara baji fireworks being swirled around in the air in the hands of children. The smell of Indian street food infuses the young mind with hunger and enjoyment with every separate dish tried. When you look back on it, praying as a child, only becomes a minor part of it and the enjoyment is the main aspect. I have had first-hand experience of the ecstasy of a Durga Puja as a child and I find it still gets me captivated in a state of nostalgia today. Therefore, I encourage any children and adults who haven’t yet experienced an Indian style Durga puja to do so at some point. We are fortunate enough to have our very own Durga puja this year in Reading hosted by BCS Reading. It will be an unforgettable celebration. Jai ma Durga!

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BCS Events of the Past

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Rendezvous By Sreecheta Saha Ira absent mindedly reached for her left hand. But then it struck her. It has been 3 months now that she has lost Bratish to a fatal cerebral attack. On approaching the security check at the airport it has always been a reflex for Ira to take off her ‘noa’ and place it on the tray along with her mobile, today was no different…she heaved, not any more. Everything in Ira’s life had turned topsy-turvy the day Bratish collapsed in the bathroom floor early in the morning. She has come a long way since then. Ira was born to Barrister Indranath Sen and Renuka Sen in 1962. She was born to them after a lot of complications and at a very ripe age and so Ira had been brought up like a princess all her life. She was the gem of everyone’s eyes at 22B Burdwan Road. Ira was sent to one of the most famous girl’s school in south Kolkata as her Pishi happened to be a member of the trustee there. She finished her schooling and then as her father wished her to study literature she got herself enrolled for comparative literature at Jadavpur University. Golden days! Within this very short span at the Uni, Ira wanted to live life to the fullest. The hour long adda sessions at canteen, the night out at Madhuchhanda’s hostel room. Ira knew this joyful stint will get over fast but she let herself go with the flow. She also gave wings to her secret wish of writing poetry. She was quite a name at the canteen for her lucid poetry and had quite a good number of male fan following. Before she knew it, Uni got over. Enter Bratish - Barin uncle’s son. Barin uncle – Ira’s father’s partner at the law firm. When they were kids he would sometimes visit their home along with his father. But Ira no longer remembered him. Barin uncle sent him off to England to study; he was the sole hope of their law firm and as fate would have it Ira and Bratish’s marriage started of as a marriage of convenience. Bratish was an altogether different person than Ira had thought. His family was quite different from Ira’s. Their ancestral home was in Shovabazaar. The traditional Bengali joint family. It was quite difficult for Ira to adjust at first. But Bratish helped her. As per the family tradition all the wives were supposed to be in the kitchen by 8 in the morning and everyone would have to do some chore or the other in the kitchen till noon. A same routine would be in place in the evenings as well. The kitchen seemed like a giant factory where food for fifty people would be cooked. Ira felt suffocated because never before marriage did she have to set foot into the kitchen. The only breather in this difficult life was the time she spent with Bratish. It was after 9:30 at night when the husbands and wives of the household finally got to meet. Bratish would read out to her novels of western authors or recite poetry from Jibanananda. Ira cherished these moments and looked forward to them. At times she felt even Bratish feels the same way as she does. Their life went on in the usual pace till the day Bratish announced of shifting to England where he was granted the post of a Legal Adviser for a real estate firm. The whole family was at a shock. There was a huge commotion with Ira’s mother-in-law shedding tears all day long. Bratish’s uncles along with his father tried to dissuade him but Bratish remained stubborn. Finally they moved to Wales to their own haven. The next year Toton was born to them. Their life moved on. With years passing by, Ira discovered Bratish. Inspite of being bred in a conservative Bengali family, Bratish had a modern outlook. The sole reason being his education in England. Unlike anyone in their family, Ira and Bratish had a cultural bent of mind. They would often go out to watch operas or sometimes spend time in the evening at the Club along with friends. Ira eventually joined a small charity foundation nearby. She juggled her time between work and her usual regime of gardening and pottery. Their days went on and with time Toton went abroad for higher studies. With Toton gone there was a big vacancy in their lives. But Bratish tried his best to keep themselves occupied. Often they would throw house parties or drive to a weekend getaway nearby. Once a year they would visit Toton in San Francisco. Their life went on in a slow and steady pace and they had nothing to complain about till the day Bratish suffered a cerebral attack. Ira was alone at home and didnt know what to do. Her world was crumbling but she was helpless. Ira called 999 and with some help from their neighbour Mr. Evans rushed Bratish to the hospital. But it was too late. With British’s demise Ira faced the music of the harsh reality that is life. She had no idea about the logistics that kept life running smooth; her responsibility till the day had been of a dutiful housewife, a caring mother and a gracious hostess. She coped with it in her own meagre ways. But Toton was obstinate and won’t let Ira continue in Wales anymore. But the argument was futile. Ira was stubborn. She was on her way back from Kolkata where she visited to complete the last rites of Bratish. She was at the security check in at Kolkata airport when suddenly she saw those eyes. She startled. Felt the same jolt in her stomach and felt that her legs had melted away. Could it be possible that it was Pranay...her batch mate at JU. She took a few steps closer. There was no mistake. Though age has taken away the innocence of that face but the eyes still remained the same. He was pushing a wheelchair through the queue at the check in. Ira waited for the security check in to be over and then she went closer. She called out 'Excuse me!' Pranay turned back. He took a while to recognise her. But once he did, the same smile flashed across his face. The same smile which melted Ira's heart decades ago. In a flash the days of their torrid love affair came back to Ira's mind. A short-lived affair which was nipped at the bud because Ira could not convince her father of marrying the son of a post office clerk. Ira asked 'Bhalo?'...Pranay smiled and nodded and started to say something. He stopped midway as his eyes went to Ira's forehead. Ira looked at the wheelchair with a questioning look. Pranay explained that Seema, Pranay's wife has been paralytic for the last three years and every six months Pranay takes Seema for a check up to Vellore. Ira took a closer look at Seema's pretty face but Seema stared away into blankness. Ira felt a sharp pang as she stared into the glowing vermillion on Seema's forehead.

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দূরিাে By Sudeshna Banerjee

আমম দূরভাষ - মদই দূজরর আভাস পে, ঘাট, নদী, মাঠ - সাত সমুদ্র, রতজরা নদীর পার... ডাজক এপার "হোজো, হোজো......শুনজত পামিস ? হোজো...জকমন আমেস?" "হোজো...ভাজো রনই ভাই! রোডজেমডং, যানেট, আকাে-রোোঁয়া বাোর দর তার সাজে আজে কাজের রোজকর কামাই। তার রেজক তু ই বরং আমেস অজনক ভাজো !" দূরভাজষ মক একটু ঈষচার রোোঁয়া এে? "হোজো - রোডজেমডং, যানেট রনই তজব বাোর দর এোজনও আকাে-রোোঁয়াই, আর চণ্ডীপাঠ রেজক েুজতা রসোই করজত হয় মনজেজকই... ইজি হজেও কামাইজয়র রনই উপায় ! হোোঁ রর, সুোতা রমল্ কজরজে, রতার সাজে নামক ওর রদো হজয়জে?" "আজর হোোঁ, হঠাৎ এক মবজয়বা়েীজত সুোতা এজসমেে বরযাত্রী হজয় রবনারসী আর ফু জের সাজে... োমনস - আজরা একটু মুটিজয়জে রর !" মবজয়বা়েী...মবজয়বা়েী... আতজরর সুবাস, রেনীেন্ধা, রবনারসী... দূরভাষ মক বুঝজো - কার মন উদাসী? ওপাজরর েোয় েুেীর সুর "এই োমনস - সামজনর মাজসর িেম রমববাজর অেকার রেজের অন্নিােজন সুোতা, বনেতা, টু ম্পা, পজমমে সবার সাজে রদো হওয়ার চান্স একদম পাকাই! তু ই োকজে দারুণ হজতা, েমমজয় আড্ডা মদতাম সবাই!"

আে মবজয়বা়েী, কাে অন্নিােন, এত েন্ধ, রূপ আর রে পুজরাজনা বন্ধু, রফজে আসা সময়, হাত বা়োজেই সবমকেু রোোঁয়া যায় ৷ তারপজরও বমেস ভাজো রনই?" একটু েমকায় এপার, তারপর "হুমম...তা সমতে! তা তু ই রকমন আমেস বে? এতক্ষণ রসই কোটাই রয মেজজ্ঞ্স করা হজয় ওজঠমন !" "আমম? মদজনর রবোয় অমফস, সন্ধোজবোয় বা়েী, রেজে, স্বামী ৷ েমন - রমববার রদাকান বাোর, েেমদজনর পাটিচ বা রেট-টু জেদার ৷ এই আমার ররােনামচা সা রর ো মা পা ধা মন সা... সাতটি মদন আজস আর যায় সময় শুধু রদৌজ়ে পাোয় আবার অোোমচ বাো শুরু হয় রসামবাজরর সকােজবোয় ৷" দূরভাজষর এবার মন রকমন... দুইপাজরজতই আজনক সুে, দুইপাজরজতই মকেু দুে, দুইপাজরই আজে েমজক োকা স্মৃমত, দুইপাজরই আজে বন্ধুর হাতোমন...। দূরভাজষর চমক ভাজে - রবজে ওজঠ বহু দূজরর এক অনে দূরভাষ... ডাকজত োজক বহু দূজরর অনে এক পার "হোজো, হোজো......শুনজত পামিস ? হোজো...জকমন আমেস?” সুষদষ্ণা ব্যানাজী

রভজে রেে বাোঁধ এপাজরর " বাুঃ , দারুণ আমেস রতা রর!

33


An Interview with our Uncle : My First Trip to India By Anjali Nandi (14 yrs old) and Sonali Nandi (15 yrs old)

In December 2012, 35 year

- some were quite empty and

old, Carl McCall (a Wireless

quite symmetrical, so when you

Engineer from Reading), visited

see one side, you pretty much

India, for the first time, to get

know what you’re going to see

married.

on the other side. Then there were other ones that still have

How did you feel before you

all the artefacts in them that are

went?

quite cool. I got to do an

I was excited and slightly

elephant ride up to one of the

nervous before going, as I had an idea of what to expect. My wife, Surupa, had given me a few pointers and I had seen programmes on TV. I was glad to know that I was going with people who knew the area, and I felt comfortable with, which I suppose, puts you at ease a little.

forts, Amber Palace in Jaipur. seeing all the flowers, getting

We had a choice, we could

ready,

seeing

either walk up there or ride an

everybody, meeting people for

elephant, and when else would I

the first time, that I’ll probably

get the chance to ride an

never see again! Compared to

elephant? It wasn’t too scary,

my UK wedding it seemed a lot

but it was gnarly at points, the

more meaningful: the vows and

elephant was a bit boisterous!

rituals, Surupa’s mother blessing

And I think Surupa was a bit

me,

turning

service.

scared, as it was almost lurching

What was your reaction when

Everyone is sitting down to

from side to side as we were

you first arrived?

begin with, but as soon as the

going up, with a high drop on

The first thing that hit me when

ceremony

one side. But we got there in

I got off the plane was the smell.

crowding

It

everybody

was

really

distinct.

The

the

up,

priest’s

starts,

everyone’s

around wants

to

you,

one piece and I suppose it’s all

see,

part of the experience. It was

journey from the airport to the

everybody wants to be a part of

house in Kolkata was crazy.

it.

When you walk out from the

sister-in-law helped me out,

airport

people

otherwise I would have been

everywhere, you had tuktuks

completely lost! Just looking

(auto rickshaws), and the horns,

around, everyone was smiling,

constant horns all the time.

and happy to be there and it’s

Then you’d see animals just

something that I’m really glad

walking around randomly from

we did!

there

are

cows to elephants!! Normally, the journey from the airport is quite boring and mundane, but this

was

crazy!

It

really

surpassed my expectations.

really good!

Fortunately, Sangita, my

Where did you go in India? Well, obviously we went to Calcutta, sorry, Kolkata! Then

What was your favourite place?

we went to Rajasthan: Jaipur &

I think it had to be Udaipur,

Udaipur, where we saw lots of

What did you think about your

as it was a bit quieter than all

forts & lakes, and lots of

Indian wedding?

the other places we visited, and

monkeys. All the forts were

it was like a quintessential

amazing, some nicer than others

Indian village.

It was amazing. The colours,

34


We also actually got some

part of the fun. Oh and Daab,

sunshine there too, so I could break out my shorts for a change,

as

it

had

been

unusually chilly in Kolkata.

(coconut water) on the side of the road, really refreshing! Did you feel welcome? What did you think of the food? It

was

amazing,

and

consisted of lots and lots of home-cooking

in

When

in

you’re

Kolkata! a

family

environment as a guest, you try and say no, but they just keep on insisting! So I learnt how to say ‘stop’, or ‘that’s enough’ in Bengali. On our travels, I tried lots of dishes that I’d never had before, like, Chana Masala, Chole Batura, and Indian wine – I tried this in Udaipur. To be honest, I didn’t even know Indians made wine, before I’d just been drinking beer, or rum and coke, but I found it surprisingly good! Street food was amazing, I especially liked egg rolls – I had heard loads about egg rolls from family, so I

Yes, though I did get a few funny looks – a big, white bloke, walking through their village or through the town! They were all really friendly people, amazing atmosphere – really loud, hustle and bustle! Sort of sensory overload, smells, sounds, things you see, sometimes not the nicest things you’ll see. What were the highlights of your trip? Getting married – for the second time!! Also going out with Choto Mama (young uncle) in a rickshaw, when he was going about his daily business - it always seemed like he was arguing with people, but it was just that he was speaking so loud with passion! The hustle and bustle of Garia

Was there anything you didn’t like? The trains, because they were always delayed – because of them I didn’t get to see the Taj Mahal, which was obviously one of the key sights to see! Obviously, the poverty’s not the nicest thing to see. It’s hard when people come up to you in the traffic, begging, with their kid – that’s very hard. Another thing I didn’t like was the pollution, because it’s such a beautiful place, and you see the rivers absolutely piled up with bottles, it does ruin it a little bit. How would you compare India to the UK? Well, it’s completely different, as in the sounds, the people, the way of life, the heat – although there wasn’t so much heat when I was there, I wore more jumpers and tracksuit and jeans over there than I do over here! But yes, completely different, but in a

had high expectations of that! They were amazing, really, really

tasty,

and

so

unbelievably cheap. I couldn’t get my head round how cheap they were. And phuchkas –well a lot of people had said they were

really

good,

but

personally I wasn’t a fan. We went to a street vendor, and watched him make them – his

high street; going down the little alleyways and the little shops; piles of spices everywhere – it was cool.

hands were filthy! But, that’s all

35

really good way! I’m so glad I went and will definitely, definitely go again, to not only visit the people I met out there, but to also experience other places, other food and drink, and the culture!


36


The Earth By Ayush Sinha (10 yrs old)

The Beauty of the Earth is destroyed by a few Ice caps and mountains, the forest and reef We wring our hands and wonder what to do? Whilst they destroy our land, right down to the last leaf. The land we have is a gift from God Only given once to respect and love From the highest mountain to the smallest sod From the fieriest lion to the gentlest dove There is so much pollution Travelling in the air But we don’t have a solution Because people don’t really care We are scarce of trees Which sway in the midnight breeze We cut them down And shove them underground The fish are taken away from our seven seas We wonder when this theft will ever cease There is enough for everyone; for their fill Our poor old Earth, we are making it ill.

Helplessness By Arushi Singhal (8 yrs old)

Helplessness As he slowly drifts up I frantically run after, chasing him His beautiful face suddenly turns pale I tried to fly up to heaven with him But he passed, I didn’t I was not dead so I couldn’t pass As he flew up I watched in horror I jumped and tried to touch him, Then I realised he was a shadow-less soul I tried to have faith in myself But he was already gone.

37


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