SHARAD UTSAV 2014 BENGALI CULTURAL SOCIETY, READING
2nd,3rd,4th and 5th October 2014 RIVERMEAD LEISURE COMPLEX, RICHFIELD AVENUE RG1 8EQ
Message From Chairman
Dear friends On behalf of Bengali Cultural Society, Reading I welcome you cordially to our second Sharad Utsav (Autumn Festival) and Durga Puja . Last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Durga Puja celebration was an utterly transformative event not only for BCS but also for the whole of the Bengali and Indian communities in the Reading area. With some 4000 people attending the first ever Durga Puja in Reading and the associated festivities, it became a celebration of our culture and heritage. It was no coincidence that we achieved such a phenomenal success in our first attempt to bring this major event to the community. Inspired and relentless efforts by our members and especially by those on the Steering Committee made this mammoth task possible. I thank all of them and the patrons, sponsors and advertisers for their support and contribution in so many ways. In some respects it might be easy to be the pioneer, but it is probably more difficult to maintain the momentum and surpass the standards set. The enormity of last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s success made us determined to work harder and ensure that the second year of Reading Durga Puja is more enjoyable and pleasurable to the devotees and others alike. It is again time to rejoice, reunite and rejuvenate. With the blessings of the Universal Mother, Ma Durga and with your help and cooperation we shall continue this tradition for years to come. As last year, our team has worked hard to bring before you many local and other talents during the four days of variety programmes. As a new cultural dimension to this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Puja, we are organising Reading Schools Art Exhibition. It will be the first time that such an exhibition is being held where art students of the local secondary schools can show their works that can be appreciated by a large audience. A number of prominent local schools are in this exhibition and it is hoped that it will grow in popularity and become a feature in our future festivals. In its fundamental perspective the mythology associated with Sharad Utsav is the triumph of good over evil, depicted by the image of Mother Durga slaying the demon Mahishasura. How do we get the inspiration from this age old story of Durga Puja? A simple annotation of the Vedic Verses, one of the Hindu scriptures, is that the real happiness is in the person who invokes his god gifted inner wealth through which a house becomes a home, a jungle becomes a garden and above all a person becomes a wise man. Let us resort to this latent power lying within to bring out the best in us. We hope and pray that Ma Durgatinashini (the one who alleviates all sorrow) will take care of our miseries and we all live in peace and harmony for the next year. I extend warm wishes to one and all and wish you a very Happy Durga Puja, Navratri and Dussera. Chandan Bhowmik
Key Information: Car Parking : Free passes available from Reception Contact us: Website: www.bcsreading.com Email: email@example.com, Phone: 07887573477 Reading Durga Puja
Table of Contents Message from Chairman
About BCS & Puja Schedule
Durga Puja Festival
BCS Drawing Competition Entries
8-9 10-11 12-13
God’s Creation versus Evolution
Durer Durga’r Golpo
Biman Chand Mullick
Feminism in Hinduism
Dhoni or Cook?
Winners of Photography Competition
Change in Time
BCS 2013-14 Photo Gallery
My School Trip to France
Cover Page Artwork by Lia Ganguly (12 Years Old), winner of BCS Drawing Competition Brochure design by : Nandini Sinha Website: www.durgapujareading.com
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. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;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: Chandan Bhowmik, Prosenjit Banerjee, Sangita Nandi, Sudeshna Banerjee, Shipra Saha, Ratna Ghosh, Himangshu Dey, Abhijit Chakraborty, Milan Biswas, Parantap Das, Rana Ray, Siddhartha Sinha, Mridul Mazumdar, Nandini Sinha, Jayita Guin, Malini Chakraborty, Sibaji Choudhury, Amitava Bhattacharya, Sujoy Haldar, Bhaskar Mukherjee, Arijit Dasgupta.
Puja Schedule Thursday 2nd October
MAHA SASHTI &
Friday 3rd October
Saturday 4th October
9.00 Ashtami Puja Pushpanjali
9.00 Sandhi Puja& Pushpanjali Nabami Puja Yagna Pushpanjali
9.00 Dashami Puja Kailash Darshan Boron & Sindoor Khela
MAHA SAPTAMI 9.00 Sashti Puja Chandipath Saptami Puja Pushpanjali 18.00 Sandhya Aarti & Pushpanjali
Sunday 5th October
18.00 Sandhya Aarti & Pushpanjali 20:00 Last Pushpanjali
17:30 Sandhya Aarti & Last Pushpanjali
20:00 Last Pushpanjali Lunch (Bhog) and Dinner will be served everyday Puja will be conducted by Mr. Prosenjit Banerjee assisted by Mr. Rabindranath Chakraborty and Mr. Siddhartha Singhamahapatra Chandipaath by: Mr. Prasun Chakravarty
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 Workshop” followed by “Sit & Draw Competition” (Saturday & Sunday morning), “Dance Workshop” by Ananya Chatterjee, Kalakunj (Saturday morning) “Vocal Music Workshop” by Ratna Ghosh (Saturday afternoon)
Fun-filled traditional competitions will include “Sonkho/Conch-shell Blowing” (Saturday morning) and “Dhunochi Dance” (Sunday afternoon).
Highlights of Cultural Programs on the evenings of Thursday 2 Oct – 7pm
Group song by the adults of BCS Performance by the students of Manoranjan School of Indian Music Semi Classical Dance by Saptamita GhoshMajumdar Bollywood Dance by local artists. Followed by “Garba/Dandia” Dance. Friday 3 Oct – 7pm
Contemporary Songs & Dance by the children & adults of Probashi, Woking Maharastrachi Lokdhara - Performance by Virangula Kala Samuh, Reading Songs by Anuradha Choudhury, London Bollywood Dance by local artists. Followed by “Garba/Dandia” Dance. Saturday 4 Oct – 7pm
Devotional songs by Sumana Dhruva “Shiva-Shakti” - Performance by “Kalakunj” Melodious Vocal Performances of old & modern, Bengali & Hindi Songs by Ritwik and Sumana Sunday 5 Oct – CLOSING CEREMONY – 3pm
Award Presentation to the winners of Art Exhibition and all the competitions. Songs by Ratna Ghosh Classical and Modern Dances by Anindita & Payel Bollywood Dance by Aisha Semwal group Bhangra Performance by the students of ICC 6
The Living Durga By Swami Dayapurnananda (Ramakrishna Mission, Home of Service, Varanasi)
Historical Perspective Durga Puja, the worship of Divine Mother Goddess in the Autumn season, is a principle festival of Sanatana Dharma. Sanatana Dharma is the name of the faith popularly known as Hinduism. People professing this religion trace its origin to the Vedic Period. Hindus follow the precepts of the Vedas, Upanishads and later scriptures as well. Every year during the month of September-October, a nine-day festive occasion is marked as Nava-Ratri which ends with its famous culmination in Dusshera, the tenth & final day of worship. Hinduism’s some of the later scriptures, called as Puranas, denote the history of this worship in details. Markandeya Purana narrates the story of the war between good & evil, the gods & the demons, where a feminine form of energy comes into rescue. Later, she had been worshipped by different walks of men from society to get over their grievances and sorrows of life. Durga literally means one who helps overcome grief and frees from misery. Thus the Divine Power is invoked to cross over the ocean of struggle for life and death. In one version of the famous epic story Ramayana, the hero Rama, before fighting his final battle against the evil Ravana, sought the grace of Divine Mother Durga. With Her blessings he won over him and freed his wife Sita from those evil clutches. Another epic, Mahabharata, also mentions Her worship by its hero Arjuna under the behest of his guide Sri Krishna, before the famous battle of Kurukshetra. In Bengal community of India and elsewhere, a special emphasis on this worship is given in a homely fashion. Here Durga is worshipped, or rather adored, much as one’s own daughter who as if visits Her maternal home once a year with her children and her husband Lord Shiva. Backdrop Hinduism asserts that life essentially is divine in nature. The goal of existence is to attain or be one with this divinity. A life that has gone astray may propitiate the divine energy to enable oneself out of one’s suffering. From lower to higher order, this goal is enumerated as fourfold called the four Purusarthas or the purposes of life. First of these is Dharma or righteous living. Second is Artha or righteous acquisition of wealth. Third is Kama or righteous desire. The fourth as well as final goal of all is Moksha or liberation from the bondage of life & death. In order to accomplish these goals one needs to follow a chalked out path with full understanding of the duties in one’s own stage of life. Only then, can one find a purpose and meaning in one’s life to fulfil. Like the story of the gods and demons above, unrighteous living leads to nowhere and contains the seeds of self-destruction within. Downfall and misery are its inevitable and ultimate fate. Hence, as happiness is one’s inherent longing, it is only natural & desirable that one should strive to inculcate those Purusarthas in own life. Now the question arises, as how to imbibe such virtues & qualities which helps one move forward towards the goal. Here Hinduism’s teaching provides three strata of understanding to reach such culmination. The first & foremost is the Philosophy as depicted in its Upanishads in the end portion of the Vedas. This cumulative treasure of spirituality, also called as Vedanta, is the tower-house of knowledge and the final goal to aspire for. The second strata is the Mythology - the stories where the highest & lofty ideals are put to common people for their day-to-day understanding. The story of Durga Puja thus comes into being in the scripture Sri Sri Chandi in the form of Puranas which constitute the Mythology source. The grand truths of the Upanishads or Vedanta are given here through different account of stories in interesting form. This helps those to reach the truth in an easier way, for whom the higher intricacies of Philosophy may seem unpalatable. The third strata constitutes of Rituals where these principles of teaching are worked out in concrete form to be practised in a systematic way. For most people, regular performance of specific duties helps them to lead a disciplined life and imbibe necessary qualities for further development.
The worship of Sri Sri Durga also helps in performing these Rituals and thus purifies one’s mind through selfless service. The Rituals equate for Work or Karma that by removing the dross of mind helps develop Devotion or Bhakti of Higher Reality, as depicted in the Mythology portion. Next with the perfection of such Devotion or Bhakti, dawns the final light of Knowledge or Jnana as taught in the Upanishads or Vedanta. The worship of the Divine Mother Goddess, thus, paves way towards the final emancipation. According to one’s own stage of life, one can strive for the Purusartha or goal as aspired for. In Sri Sri Chandi, the story of Sri Sri Durga, a businessman and a king both worships Her out of their miserable condition and one gains worldly power & the other illumination - according to their own state of mind. Living Durga Present day Hinduism is much indebted to the advent of Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) who had been instrumental in bringing back the ancient wisdom of Orient to the Western world. After his participation in the Parliament of Religions at Chicago in 1893, he visited England and preached the values of Vedanta and Yoga for some time. Swami Vivekananda was a disciple of the nineteenth century saint Sri Ramakrishna who is revered by many today as an incarnation of the Divine Lord Himself. Sri Ramakrishna’s wife and spiritual consort, Sri Sarada Devi, is adored by many as The Holy Mother - an incarnation of the Mother Goddess, the Divine Feminine Energy or Shakti. Swami Vivekananda spread the message of Vedanta and the basic tenets of Hinduism through his numerous lectures, conversations & writings. He taught his lessons, received from his master Sri Ramakrishna, on the emphasis of realising the Divine and the essence of harmony of religions. Sri Sarada Devi, herself a perfect adept trained by Sri Ramakrishna, also personified in her own life the lofty heights of Work, Devotion & Knowledge and their synthesis. Her life and work was a living example of leading a God-centred life in all situations of world. Teachings of Sri Sharada Devi constitute dealing with the dualities of evil & good and the power to transcend to the Higher Reality with the blessing of the Divine. Sri Sri Durga is invoked by the devotee to be granted Supreme Peace by the grace of the Divine Mother. In the Puranas of Mythological lore, Sri Sri Durga rescues Her devotee from the clutches of evil by vanquishing the demons and offers solace to those who seek refuge in Her. There are numerous events in the life of Sri Sarada Devi where she had been the beacon-light in the darkness of some miserable soul and provided the much sought for blessing of Peace in their lives. Swami Vivekananda himself bears testimony of this fact in his life and proudly proclaimed her as the ‘Living Durga’ who bestows grace on all and embraces all with unbound love. Sri Sarada Devi is thus today worshipped by many as a source of inspiration and installed in the heart of the devotees as the ‘Living Durga’. "One should not hurt others even by words. One must not speak even an unpleasant truth unnecessarily. By indulging in rude words, one's nature becomes rude. One's sensibility is lost if one has no control over one's speech." - Holy Mother (Sri Sarada Devi)
“But I tell you one thing—if you want peace of mind, do not find fault with others. Rather see your own faults. Learn to make the whole world your own. No one is a stranger my child: this whole world is your own!” - Holy Mother (Sri Sarada Devi)
Durga Puja Festival By Ajoy Sen
The ceremonial worship of the mother goddess Durga (referred to as Durga Puja) is one of the most important festivals of India, especially for the Bengali speaking Hindus of India. Apart from being a religious festival, it is also an occasion for getting together and celebration of traditional culture and customs. This autumnal Durga Puja is celebrated every year in the month of Ashwin of the Hindu calendar (which corresponds to the period mid-September to mid-October). This Puja commemorates the invocation of the goddess by Lord Rama before embarking on a war with the demon king Ravana who had abducted his wife Sita. As this worship ritual is separate from the conventional Durga Puja celebrations which take place usually at springtime, it is also referred to as ‘akal-bodhan’. ’Akal’ means not at the conventional time and ‘bodhan’ signifies worship. The story goes that Lord Rama was the first to worship goddess Durga or ‘Mahishasura Mardini’, the slayer of the buffalo-demon, by lighting 108 lamps and offering 108 blue lotuses, in the month of Ashwin. Legend has it that the first grand worship of goddess Durga occurred in the late 1500s. The landlords or zamindar of Dinajpur and Malda performed the first Durga Puja in Bengal. As Durga Puja calls for elaborate rituals over several days (spread over at least the last 4 of the 10 days) it took the form of the ‘Baro-Yaari’ Puja or the community Puja in the early years. Twelve friends of Guptipara in Hoogly, West Bengal collected contributions from local residents and performed the first community puja called ‘baro-yaari’ puja or ‘twelve-pal’ puja in 1790. The ‘baro-yaari’ puja came over to Kolkata (previously called Calcutta) in 1832 when Raja Harinath of Cossimbazar conducted the puja at his Calcutta residence, having previously performed the puja at his ancestral home in Murshidabad from 1824 to 1831. Gradually the ‘baro-yaari’ puja gave way to the ‘sarbajanin’ or community puja in 1910. With full public contribution, public control and public participation, the first truly community puja was organised in Baghbazar, Kolkata. It is now said that the dominant type of Bengali Durga Puja is the ‘sarbajanin’ or public version. The icon of the goddess worshipped during the Durga Puja celebrations conforms with the iconography delineated in the scriptures. The gods co-operated to create a beautiful and awesome goddess with ten arms, each carrying their most lethal weapon. The tableau of Durga also features her four children – Kartikeya, Ganesha, Saraswati and Lakshmi. The ‘pratima’ or clay image of Durga, with all five gods and goddesses under one cover is known as ‘ekchala’ (‘ek’=one, ‘chala’=cover). There are two kinds of decorations or embellishments that are used on clay – ‘sholar saaj’ and ‘daker saaj’. In the ‘sholar saaj’ the ‘pratima’ is decorated with the white core of the ‘shola’ reed which grows in marshlands. As the devotee population grew wealthier, beaten silver (‘rangta’) was used. The silver used was imported from Germany, and was delivered by post (‘dak’). That’s why the name ‘daker saaj’ came into existence. The auspicious days of the Durga Puja festival are Mahalaya, Mahashashti, Mahasaptami, Maha-astami, Mahanavami, and Vijayadashami. Mahalaya: This is the auspicious occasion observed seven days before the Durga Puja, and heralds the advent of Durga, the goddess endowed with supreme power. It is an invocation to the mother goddess to descend on earth, through the chanting of mantras and singing devotional songs. Mahashashti: On this day, the sixth day after the new moon, the divine Mother descends to the mortal world from her heavenly abode, accompanied by her four children. Unveiling the face of the idol by the priest is the main ritual on this day. ‘Kalparambho’, the ritual performed before the commencement of the puja precedes ‘bodhan’, ‘amontron’ and ‘adibas’ rituals. Mahasaptami: The first day of Durga Puja. ‘Kola Bou’ (‘Nabapatrika’) is given a pre-dawn bath. This practice comes from an ancient ritual of worshipping nine types of plants. They are worshipped together as a symbol of the goddess. The main Saptami Puja follows ‘Kalparambho’ and ‘Mahasnan’ rituals.
Maha-astami: Day number two of Durga Puja begins with a recital of Sanskrit hymns, and the assembled congregation of devotees offer ‘anjali’(mass prayer offering prompted by the priest) to the goddess. As the day progresses, the time for the important ‘Sandhi Puja’ arrives, marking the passing over from Maha- ashtami to Mahanavami. Mahanavami: Day three is the penultimate day of Durga Puja. The main Mahanavami Puja begins after the end of ‘Sandhi Puja’. Vijayadashami: The last day of Durga Puja – that is the tenth day after the new moon. A tearful farewell is offered to the goddess, and a grand send-off is arranged. Womenfolk who are married take part in ‘sindur khela’ – which entails first placing vermillion dot on goddess Durga’s forehead with deep devotion and then on one another’s forehead of the congregated married women, in order to wish each other a long and prosperous married life. The images of goddess Durga and her four children are carried in a procession around the locality and finally immersed in a river or even in the sea, if that is the nearest large body of water. After the immersion ceremony, people embrace and greet each other, offer each other sweets, and exchange good wishes. Durga Puja is performed all over India and in numerous countries abroad. While the rituals are spread over ten days of fast, feast and worship, the last four days – Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami are celebrated with much gaiety and grandeur. When speaking about God, Sri Ramakrishna had stated time and again: He who is ‘Brahman’ (Existence, Knowledge, Bliss Absolute or ‘Satchitananda’), is also ‘Shakti’ (Primal Energy or Power of God). When inert, or thought of as inactive, He is called Brahman. But when thought of as the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer the concept of Primal Energy or Kali emerges in our pure consciousness. Brahman is indistinguishable from Shakti, like fire and its power to burn. If you accept the one you must accept the other. Let us meditate on Mother Durga with deep devotion, as the Shakti aspect of God. May we have Her blessing for warding off evil and for peace and prosperity.
Drawing Competition Entries
By Akhil Vanka (12 Yrs Old)
By Aheli Roy (6 Yrs Old)
By Kamalika Sen
By Akansha Das (11 Years Old)
God’s Creation Versus Evolution By Sayandeep Das (15 yrs Old)
Dear Mr Atheist,
Allow me to destroy the theory of evolution in the next few minutes
Evolution is not a science; it was never clearly seen or experienced by anyone so it is stated as a theory.
Apparently it takes way too much faith to believe in God while people believed in what they called the ‘Theory of evolution’. It does not fit into the parameters of science as it is only a theory. Now I’m not disagreeing with all the facts and theories in science e.g. if you consult to the theory of gravity, just jump off a cliff and see how that goes. But let me just show you how much faith it takes to believe in evolution.
You want me to believe that in some accidental cosmic bang, an atom had exploded to create the universe. It had created the millions of galaxies and planets. All life on earth had just emerged from one atom? Now just think about how much faith does it really take to believe in that? The one thing that science demands is the “Law of Thermo-dynamics.” It states that chaos can never produce order- the sun comes out, it sets, we travel around it, we have years, we have days, and we have seasonseverything works like a clock. It has order. Yet, you cannot argue that a world which has order came out of an accident because it defies the very basic principles of science. You think it takes a lot of faith for me to believe in a god that created this world and perfect order. Yet, you believe that a tsunami destroys the poor coastal cities and the area gets demolished. Yet out of that, emerges a new, beautiful and vibrant metropolis where everything was better than it was. That’s exactly what science believes- out of some accident, there is this beautiful planet which rotates around the sun and has hours, days and seasons. This could never happen though an accident. It had to be by an intelligent design. So at the end of the day, there has to be an extensive amount of faith for you to believe in the theory of evolution. Looking around, you see this world and all the animals in it; you cannot just look at all of this creation and call it an accident. Creation has a creator. It takes too much faith to believe in it. Now don’t get too excited, I just thought this would be something for you to apply some thought to.
Feminism in Hinduism By Tribikram Chakravarty (14 yrs Old)
Hinduism is normally associated with multiplicity of Gods amounting up to millions thus creating a direct conflict with modern religions. But in fact Hindu The Holy Vedas clearly state “ekam sad viprah bahuta vadanti” meaning there is only ONE true God to be worshipped. This one god can be called by different names and this pantheon of Hindu GODS allows anyone to experience the divine in the way that suits best at a particular time. You may be surprised to know that Hinduism is one of the religions, which preaches the theology of non-duality. In non -duality only God is permanent and real, while the self is an illusion that vanishes when one dies, because that which changes and dissipates cannot be considered to be reality. The concept creates confusion when we think of our efforts at improving our character, since everything about the self is an illusion that effort is ultimately and finally futile. It also reduces God’s ability to power an individual’s conscience, as they are works of illusions. Also with time and different belief systems developing the term GOD became synonymous to masculine nature of the SUPREME POWER. To overcome this horrid confusion Hindu scholars changed the belief system of Hinduism giving birth to the dualistic doctrine of Prakrit and Purush namely matter and spirit. Prakrit is originally passive, immobile and pure potentiality by nature. It is only as a direct result of her contact with the kinetic Purush that she unfolds into the variegations we see before us. The universe with all its diversity and multiplicity remains equated in the divine desire as conception before manifestation. It is manifested in the course of basic evolution, started under the influence of the creative preference of the Divine Mother. The Universal Mother in Her Absolute Self admits of no mutability, change or division, isn’t is synonymous to the fact, that ENERGY is constant and can only be converted to different forms. Thus, Shakti is seen as being antecedent to Prakrit, with Shakti being the instrumental cause, in the form of the Devi, or the Great Goddess, and Prakrit serving as the material cause. The relationship between Purush and Prakrit is one of the wielders of power and the power itself. Each is meaningless without the existence of the other. While the possessor of power is the guiding force as to the power's direction and purpose, it is the power itself, which provides the ability to perform any task. To use a crude example, we might say that the Purush is the light bulb while the Shakti is the electricity that makes it glow. But what is true on the macrocosmic level is also the rule on the microcosmic? In Hinduism, the Vedas say “Yatra Naryaha Pujyante, Tatra Ramante Devataha”, meaning “Wherever females are worshipped/respected, there blooms Divinity.” Hindu women have historically easily risen to heights of power within various monastic and religious hierarchical structures, like to mention prominent names of like Gargi, Maitreyi and Lopamudra. The famous Sanskrit scholar, Panini, observed the distinction in the Sanskrit language between "ajaryani" (the wife of a teacher) and "ajaryaa" (a lady teacher), indicating that women were accepted as spiritual teachers. And this brings us to the topic of Durga Puja. Though it is seen as a Hindu Festival, in Bengal (following the concept of Oneness and Equality) this has evolved into a SARBOJONIN event that is an event BY the Community, FOR the community and WITH the community in mind. And it’s this unity that brings Bengalis together, Bengalis in all countries under one God.
"Can you weep for Him with intense longing of heart? Men shed a jugful of tears for the sake of their children, for their wives, or for money. But who weeps for God? So long as the child remains engrossed with its toys, the mother looks after her cooking and other household duties. But when the child no longer relishes the toys, it throws them aside and yells for its mother. Then the mother takes the rice-pot down from the hearth, runs in haste, and takes the child in her arms." Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa “God can be realized through all paths. All religions are true. The important thing is to reach the roof. You can reach it by stone stairs or by wooden stairs or by bamboo steps or by a rope. You can also climb up by a bamboo pole.” Sri Ramakrishna Paramhamsa
Maa Durga By Lia Ganguly (12 yrs Old) I believe that Maa Durga has not only one form but many. She could be any shape or form; has anyone actually seen her in their lifetime? She may as well be standing among us. I may not know what she looks like, but imagination can take you anywhere. People looking at my picture may say there are many things wrong with it, and some may not like it, but this is how I see Maa Durga. No matter what she looks like, Durga is Durga. In this picture, I have chosen to portray Durga reaching out to offer us ‘peace’, because in this current era full of war, I believe peace is what we most need. Puja is very important to Bengalis, it is even as important as Christmas is to Christians. It lasts for six days and consists of offering prayers to a certain god, in this case- Maa Durga- who is accompanied by her. We take time to offer special ‘bhog’ (sanctified food offering) to Maa Durga, which then comes back to us as what we call ‘prasadam’ (holy food) - and everyone really loves the proshad, as it has been ‘touched’ by god and it always tastes better than normal food as it is cooked especially for god. There is a certain instrument that is very popular during puja period- it is called the dhak. It is a pair of traditional Indian drums. When the dhak is played, the hearts of the people listening to it dance along with the melody, whilst the priest prays at the pandal. Bengalis also have another tradition of wearing new clothes at puja, so we can all look forward to that as well. Puja always starts at the very beginning of fall (autumn) - Sharad. This six day occasion is also called Sharad or Durg Utsav and these six days are observed as Mahalaya, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and Vijayadashami. On the last day of our puja time everyone feels really sad; as they miss the fun that they have all experienced throughout the past few days, but once puja is over, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be over forever- there is always an exciting puja to look forward to next season. Durga Puja is also a time when we learn about our roots and culture. Even though children like me may have grown up in the UK, I believe that it is good to learn about our own culture and to be proud of it. It gives us a sense of belonging! Durga Puja is the biggest and most important celebration of the Bengali calendar. It is an opportunity to come together as a community to meet people we may not have met for a long time and a chance to thank Maa Durga for the blessings we have received in the past year.
Who is Happy? A crow lived in the forest and was absolutely satisfied in life. But one day he saw a swan. "This swan is so white," he thought, "and I am so black. This swan must be the happiest bird in the world." He expressed his thoughts to the swan. "Actually," the swan replied, "I was feeling that I was the happiest bird around until I saw a parrot, which has two colors. I now think the parrot is the happiest bird in creation." The crow then approached the parrot. The parrot explained, "I lived a very happy life—until I saw a peacock. I have only two colors, but the peacock has multiple colors." The crow then visited a peacock in the zoo and saw that hundreds of people had gathered to see him. After the people had left, the crow approached the peacock. "Dear peacock," the crow said, "you are so beautiful. Every day thousands of people come to see you. When people see me, they immediately shoo me away. I think you are the happiest bird on the planet." The peacock replied, "I always thought that I was the most beautiful and happy bird on the planet. But because of my beauty, I am entrapped in this zoo. I have examined the zoo very carefully, and I have realized that the crow is the only bird not kept in a cage. So for past few days I have been thinking that if I were a crow, I could happily roam everywhere." That's our problem too. We make unnecessary comparison with others and become sad. We don't value what God has given us. This is what leads to the vicious cycle of unhappiness. Anonymous
Dhoni or Cook? By Suprovo (Aakash) Banerjee (13 yrs Old)
It was 8:30 in the morning. The huge SWALEC stadium greeted me with its stern-faced security officers, local men selling flags and hats outside and stalls getting ready to prepare and serve food. People were streaming to the gates and waiting patiently in the queue. We made our way in. The flight of stairs took us into the stadium. The pitch was clearly visible from where we were sitting. I could see the players warming up for their big match. My first experience of live international cricket was about to begin. Captain Cook was speaking to the camera as England had won the toss and chose to field first. India were in the changing rooms, getting padded up to begin the smashing. At first, India were moving at a slow rate, but as soon as MS Dhoni came on as the 5th batsman, the match had suddenly changed its pace. India's captain hit a run-a-ball half-century before being bowled through the gate by Chris Woakes in the penultimate over, while Raina (his partner) scored a magnificent 74-ball 100 before he was caught by James Anderson. The crowd was quite stereotypical. Whenever India scored a boundary, all the Indians in the stadium jumped up and cheered, while the English sat in their seats with a neutral face. It was the same the other way around. Moreover, the English and the Indians were having a musical contest of slogans and comments. I was enjoying it thoroughly – it was fun to watch the adults becoming teenagers once again! The second half turned out to be worse for England. Wickets fell like the rain at regular intervals, and India completed a comprehensive victory by bowling England out for 161 in 38.1 overs, Ravindra Jadeja taking four for 28 runs. Victory was clearly for India, with England being thrashed by the spinners. But as soon as the last wicket fell, the English spectators stood up, shook hands with the Indians and congratulated them. It was a great experience for me – to watch the world class players so close and to bathe in the cheering of the spectators. And whom do you think I cheered for – Dhoni or Cook?
Drawing by Lia Ganguli ( Age 12 Years old)- using Ipad
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কবির স্বপ্ন By Sudeshna Banerjee
শরতের এক সন্ধ্যায় এক কবির কাতে গাতের কথা শুনলামগাে নাবক ঝরা পাোর শশাতক কান্নায় ভাতস না, গাে নাবক োর োয়া শথতক কাউতক শেরায় না, গাে নাবক সুতে দুুঃতে দূরত্ব িদলায় না। কবি োই গাে হতয় জন্মািার স্বপ্ন শদেবেতলন... শসবদন িাবি শেরার পতথ রাতের অন্ধ্কাতর অতনক গাতের সাতথ শদো হল। বনুঃশব্দ ভাষায় োতদর সাতথ কথা হল, রাতের স্বতপ্নর বসিঁবি শিতয় োরা এতক এতক আমার কাতে এল... কবি, েু বম বক কেন শকান গােতক েুিঁ তয় োর মতনর কথা জানতে শেতয়ে? পুরুষ েু বম, োই শোতের জল না শদেতল েু বম জানতেই পাতরা না শে শকউ কািঁতদ, কথার শব্দ শোমার কাতন না শপ িঁেতল েু বম িুঝতেই োও না শে শকউ কথা িতল, পাতয় পাতয় পথ অবেক্রম না করতল েু বম শদেতেই পাও না শে শকউ দূরত্ব িদলায়, গাতয় ঝলসাতনা শপািা দাগ না শদেতল েু বম জানতেই পাতরা না শে কেন শকউ জ্বতল পুতি শশষ হতয় োয়... আবম শদতেবে, শেহ ভাতলািাসার োয়া বদতয় সিাইতক শীেল করতে করতে বনতজ আগুন হতয় ওঠা... সুে দুুঃতের ঘূবণিপাতকর আিতেি বির থাকতে থাকতে হঠাৎ বনুঃশতব্দ শেতে পিা... আগুন জ্বাবলতয় ধ্বংস করতে করতে বনতজ অশ্রুনদী হতয় িতয় োওয়া... এতসা কবি - একিার গাে হতয়ই জন্ম নাও েু বম, এতসা পুরুষ - একিার নারী হতয়ই জতন্ম শদতো েু বম, শোতের দৃবির সীমানা শপবরতয় গহীন মতনর অরতণয পথ হারাতে পাতরা বকনা... আমরা গাতেরা শসই বদতনর জতনয অতপক্ষা কতর আবে, আমরা নারীরা শসই মূহুতেি র জতনয িতস আবে।।
Photography Competition 1st Position-Forth Bridge by Deep Dey
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3rd Position-Clouds by Shreya Das
Change in Time By Baidehi Sarkar (11 yrs Old ) Sam stumbled over something small on the ground. It was a little book of some kind. She picked it up and decided to look inside. As she turned the wrinkled cover, Sam found that she was in a place she couldn’t recognise, still with the book in her hands. Befuddled, she looked around. It was now certain, that Sam was definitely not where she was supposed to be, at her father’s funeral. Her eyes were still red from all the crying. Squeezing her eyes shut, Sam remembered how she had insisted on her dad to bring her forgotten books back from Aunt Clarisse’s house. Even though she had known it was very dark and foggy outside, she had insisted. Even though she had known her dad hadn’t been feeling all right, she had insisted. I killed dad, thought Sam. I was the one who insisted on him bringing my books. It’s all my fault. Why didn’t I wait until the morning? Because of a small, stubborn, childish fit, my dad isn’t here. Now I don’t have a dad or a mum! Angrily, Sam rubbed her tears and focused her mind. Taking a deep breath, she took a good look. Her eyes widened. Why, she was back at home, in her dad’s bedroom! But….there was something different. Sam saw her dad’s clothes lying about as if some giant had carelessly scattered them from the sky. The smell of that French perfume, which her mum had given her dad when she had been alive, hung in the air like a forever lasting scent. Every year, her dad always insisted on going to the same shop in France that sold the perfume. Those things weren’t meant to be here! After the accident, Aunt Clarisse had packed away all of her dad’s clothes (along with his other possessions) in a big brown trunk. Then, she had tidied up her dad’s bedroom and asked Sam to come and stay with her for a while. In fact, her father’s bedroom had been like this on the day they were going to Aunt Clarisse’s house. Without realising, she accidently knocked over an empty mug. Although the mug had landed on the carpet, it had made a noise all the same. Suddenly, she heard footsteps. Instinctively, she squeezed under the bed. “Sam! Sam! Is that you? What’s going on up there?” shouted a familiar voice. Sam gasped. Of course it was familiar! It was her dad’s. Eager to see him again, Sam nearly banged her head trying to get out. Tears stung in her eyes once more when her dad stumbled through the door. “Sam….are you okay?” asked her dad softly. Sam nodded, rushing out and giving her dad a big, warm hug. “You died…..It’s all my fault…..You died” she lisped through his sobs. “I…what!? Samantha Lily Rose what on earth are you alking about?” spluttered her dad, shocked Sam would ever say such a thing. Sam cursed herself silently. If it really was the day they were going to Aunt Clarisse’s and her dad hadn’t really had the accident yet, then obviously her dad didn’t know he was going to die. Trying to cover up her mistake, Sam quickly explained “It’s an act dad, remember, this is a lot like what my character’s like in the school play. I was practicing my lines.” It was true, Sam’s character was very emotional, but she didn’t have those lines, hopefully her dad would overlook that part. “Oh right, of course” replied her dad, relieved his daughter didn’t need to be taken to a therapist after all. Then, he realised what Sam was wearing, a depressing, black, knee-length dress. “Err…Sam…you don’t need to be that formal with your Aunt Clarisse. I mean last time I checked we were not going to a funeral afterwards.” Sam knew he had meant it as a joke, but her dad didn’t know how close to the truth it had been. After Sam had changed, she devised a plan to not bring her books, because she figured if she didn’t bring her books then her dad wouldn’t have to bring them back from Aunt Clarisse’s or she could bring his books along, and remember to bring them back. She was interrupted in her thoughts when her dad announced “Come on Sam, we’d better get going or your aunt will be mad at my constant tardiness whenever we visit her. Sam laughed and grabbed her coat. Fortunately, her dad didn’t question him for not wanting to bring his books; Sam was surprised since she remembered himself eager to show off the new books she had got for doing well in his SATS. With nothing else to think about, Sam thought about the little book with the wrinkled cover. Absent-mindedly, she reached for it in her coat pocket. Of course, it wasn’t there. It was still in her dad’s bedroom, a few inches away from the old, oak bed. Before she knew it, Sam was at her aunt’s doorstep, next to her father. He quickly checked his watch and sighed in relief. “Thank goodness, we’re five minutes early” muttered her dad. Suddenly, the dark red door flung open and a 25-year-old lady gave both Sam and her dad a vibrant, cheerful grin. “Samantha! Cade! How are you two? Come inside!” exclaimed Aunt Clarisse. Sam loved going to Aunt Clarisse’s, it was always warm and cosy, not a dark spot anywhere. She hadn’t been surprised when her aunt had let her visit the attic after she had renovated it. The whole place was full of books, and bright colourful bulbs had been strung up. Sometimes, Sam wondered what it would be like to have a house like Aunt Clarisse’s. The visit ended sooner than expected, soon Sam and her dad were heading back home through the night. Without a second thought, she was closing her eyes, letting sleep take over. CRASH! Samantha jerked her eyes open. What on earth was happening? She closed her eyes, her head throbbed with pain. Struggling to get up, she took her seatbelt off and reached out for her dad. He was dead. Wait no! There was a pulse, he was only unconscious. Tiny beads of blood trickled down his forehead. As she looked ahead, her eyes bulged open when she saw the lorry that had collided with their car. Quickly, she grabbed her phone and dialled 999. “Hello? There’s been an accident….A lorry collided with our car and my dad’s unconscious….No, I don’t really know where we are…..Okay…Bye” Samantha sighed. Then she put her phone in her pocket and began to clear up some of the glass that had shattered. At least she’d be useful in one way or another. After that, she attempted in opening the door, it didn’t budge. She tried again, but failed. Sam squeezed her eyes shut, and put all of the strength she had in her to bust the door in open, but failed again. Looks like I’m stuck here for a while. I might as well go to sleep; maybe it’ll stop all of the pain in my head. Instantly, she fell asleep. The sound of sirens blasted through Sam’s ears. Yawning, she woke up. Red and blue coloured lights coming through the window, blinded her eyes. A kind voice spoke to her soothingly “Okay, we’re going to get you and your dad out. Just keep still until we un-jam the door, okay?” Sam nodded. Her thoughts directed to the book, she felt grateful for it. The book had given her and her dad a second chance. Maybe, her mother would be given a second chance as well. Another chance to live.
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Saviour Rock By Shreya Das (14 yrs Old)
No, no and no. Siddharth was fed up of hearing that word. The local university manager had told Sid that the university could not supply him with anymore material for his research because it had been more than two years from when Sid’s research wasn’t showing any output. Devastated at this, Sid went home. His mind was a sponge of stress. Diverting his stress a little, his friends called up. They all chatted on conference call. It wasn’t only Sid who was worried about his work, his friends were much tensed about their work as well. Hari’s restaurant was running on a loss, Bali’s garage wasn’t getting enough customers, and Sam’s business wasn’t running well. To take a break from all this, the friends decided to go on holiday. The next morning, they flew to their holiday destination. “Good thing you had once bought this stupid helicopter Sam, I didn’t know that it would come in this handy” laughed Hari. After a few hours, the helicopter landed on an isolated jungle. “Are you sure we haven’t come to the wrong place” cried Bali. Like always, Sam gave an assured look. But the other friends weren’t convinced. “My friends, this is the Bonu Jungle, our holiday resort for the next couple of days” announced Sam. The others stood speechless. They all cut through the shrubs to find a holiday cottage, or rather a five star hotel with a swimming pool and hot spa. “It’s cool, but Sam, why did you need to have a holiday cottage right in the middle of a dangerous jungle? Why not a beach?” inquired Sid. “Yeah, and then we could even check out the chicks” added Bali jokingly. Overnight, the boys were disturbed by all the noises that the surrounding animals made. And Bali was so scared that he screamed waking up everyone. The next morning, the friends went exploring. They found a cave. This interested Sid very much. Without letting the others know, Sid walked deeper into the cave. Soon he halted to a stop. What could amaze a man more than what he had just seen? In front of him, stood a special shiny rock which had some metallic thrill to it. It stretched all the way to the top of the cave which was at least twenty or thirty times Sid’s own height. Sid accelerated towards the rock. As soon as he touched it, a spark of light flashed. He could not believe what he was seeing. In front of him stood Maa Durga. Her elegant eyes and lustrous hair were beautiful. Mother Durga spoke. Every word she uttered was powerful. The scarier the weapons shared by her ten hands were and the more terrifying the lion she sat on was, was outweighed by her knowledgeable words. This made her sight to Sid seem very godly. “My child, Siddharth, you were destined to find this extraordinary element in front of you. In order to save the world from destruction, you must finish your research to help you build a machine that can resist any forceful power in the whole Earth and that is more powerful than even a hundred of the most powerful beings in this world. My child, you must create this saviour machine in the shape of a horse whose two back legs are the ones of a leopard. After you have completed your creation, Lord Vishnu will appoint you to your dutiful mission”. Leaving it at that, the delineate goddess disappeared. Sid was overwhelmed. What he had experienced wasn’t just cool, it was very cool. Now he was assured, that when nothing else goes how you want it to go, God is there for you. This wasn’t the end of Sid’s story, it was the beginning of a new story that would save the world from falling apart.
Bless Me By Debabrata Chatterjee Bless me, I press thee oh lord, I have sinned, overseen by you, In the middle of the day, everyone knew, All laughed at the roughshod But the one. The sun went down, He frowned, dejected, alone in bed, At you and not at me, as he shed His tears all night only to drown His pain at the core of his mindJustice, a man’s dignity, His freedom to speak his mind in certainty, On this earth he would never find. You bestowed all these, where they are due, His fault, he doesn’t believe in you.
Four Principles of Spirituality The First Principle states: "Whomsoever you encounter is the right one" This means that no one comes into our life by chance. Everyone who is around us, anyone with whom we interact, represents something, whether to teach us something or to help us improve a current situation. The Second Principle states: "Whatever happened is the only thing that could have happened" Nothing, absolutely nothing of that which we experienced could have been any other way. Not even in the least important detail. There is no "If only I had done that differently…, then it would have been different…". No. What happened is the only thing that could have taken place and must have taken place for us to learn our lesson in order to move forward. Every single situation in life which we encounter is absolutely perfect, even when it defies our understanding and our ego. The Third Principle states: "Each moment in which something begins is the right moment" Everything begins at exactly the right moment, neither earlier nor later. When we are ready for it, for that something new in our life, it is there, ready to begin. The Fourth Principle states: "What is over, is over" It is that simple. When something in our life ends, it helps our evolution. That is why, enriched by the recent experience, it is better to let go and move on. Think it is no coincidence that you're here reading this. If these words strike a chord, it's because you meet the requirements and understand that not one single snowflake falls accidentally in the wrong place! Be good to yourself. Love with your whole being. Always Be Happy Anonymous
My School Trip to France By Asmita Niyogi ( 10 Yrs Old) Finally, the day had arrived! My suitcase was packed and ready for an exciting trip to France. At 6:40 AM on Monday, we were on the coach, ready for our long trip. We were armed with books, MP3’s and the essential IPods. A cheer of joy rang out as we crossed the boundary and drove along the beautiful French countryside. First stop lunch and the NAUSICAA Sea Life Centre. After eating a delicious meal; a fish sub (homemade) and a packet of crisps, we set out for the sea life center to see jellyfish, sharks and sea lions. We even got to touch sting rays! Then we headed off on the coach to the Chateau du Broutel, our home for one week. We were assigned rooms and there were three other girls in my room. After unpacking, we had a yummy dinner of chicken pasta followed by chocolate mousse. I settled down to sleep, anticipating the adventures tomorrow. I woke up bright and early and ate a bowl of coco pops with milk, some fruit and a Pain au Chocolat (a chocolate filled croissant) – still warm from the oven. After breakfast, we set off on our breathtaking tour of Rue. I learnt about the history of Rue and its many tales and traditions. We also went to a café where I ordered a glass of water in French! After sipping a cool glass of water, we were on our way to the supermarket. A great chance to buy some souvenirs! I bought a box of biscuits and a selection of jams. All too soon, our trip to Rue was over. We walked back to the Chateau to grab our packed lunch and get back on the coach. Now it was time to go to the chocolaterie (the best part)! We walked into a small gallery with glass showcases filled with delectable chocolate. Walking past them, we were ushered into a room full of moulds, spinning chocolate wheels and other machinery. The manager himself showed us how to make chocolate with fillings, chocolate sculptures, coloured chocolate and chocolate with a printed design. We also got to try some free chocolate samples! Then we went to the gallery to buy some chocolate. I bought a bag of milk and white chocolate fish and a chocolate squirrel. After putting our chocolate in an air conditioned compartment, we went back to the Chateau. I had a dinner of baked salmon before going to sleep. I woke up ready for action as this was the activities day. After breakfast, our group had canoeing / raft building first – a very exciting experience! We all got soaked, mostly by falling off the raft. After that, we got changed and had pizza for lunch. Archery was next, and after some practice, I managed to hit a bull’s eye! I really enjoyed learning how to use a bow and arrow. We had a short break to prepare for our last group activity, the zip wire! We put on harness and helmets. When it was my turn, I climbed up the tall staircase and on to the platform where an instructor tied a rope to my harness. I zoomed off among the treetops at breakneck speed until I was stopped with a ‘BANG!’ at the other end. It was really fun! In the evening, we had the chateau Olympics. There were lots of unusual games; who can be the funniest, boot throwing and the star game. In the star game, the players have to race around the other teams and crawl under their teammates and touch the boot in the center. It was really fun! Fully exhausted, we went to the dining hall for an Indian dinner. We had to choose from fish curry, lamb korma and tandoori chicken. After much deliberation, I chose tandoori chicken. We had an early sleep for Thursday’s adventures. We had to wake up at 6:15 AM the next day. We visited the ‘Musee Albert’ and the battlefields of the Somme as it is the hundredth anniversary of World War I. After breakfast, we set on the coach to the Albert Museum, a long underground tunnel that had been converted into a war museum. There were life size models of soldiers in the war along with artifacts and boards explaining (in French, English and German) the events leading to and during the Battle of Somme. After that, we went to a place where many lives were taken, the front line in Somme. There are replicas of real trenches and communications’ trenches just a couple of meters behind where they would have been a hundred of years ago. Following this, we went to a memorial which commemorated the soldiers who were missing but their bodies weren’t found and those who were found but their names could not be identified. Then, we went to the Lochnagar Crater, a huge shell crater that is maintained in remembrance to those who fell. After a moment of reflection, we returned back to the Chateau – tired after our last day of touring France. Tomorrow, we would be going home.
After some packing, I was ready to get on the coach with my suitcase in the compartment under the coach and my backpack and my packed lunch (baguette & crisps). Saying goodbye to the Chateau staff, we left for the Channel Tunnel. Soon, we were back to the grey skies of England after a weeklong stay.
French Words Chateau means castle. Rue means road but it is the name of a city too. Eau potable means drinking water. Au revoir means goodbye.