Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee

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Marketisation of Festivals

Assuming that you know the story of Savitri and Satyaban and the origin of Savitri brata, which was observed on 15 May (if you do not, then see this: http://www.india.com/festivals-events/savitri-brata-2018-know-all-about-muhurat-vat-savitri-puja-vidhi-and-significance-of-odia-festival-3051737/) let me proceed.

On the morning of Savitri puja, I took my ‘Savitri’ to the temple, where I found several ‘Satyaban’ standing with two polythene packet of fruits. One goes to the temple for puja. The other stays for the Savitri, who will eat only these till evening.
The one that goes for the puja contains some fruits, which are (or are in a condition) mostly non-edible. You might ask, why then take it for offering to the God. The answer is- somehow Savitris believe that you need to offer 7 or 11 or 15 types of fruits for puja. Where do you get so many kinds of fruits- in a condition fit for consumption? So unripe fruits and nuts are offered to the God. And after the brief puja is over these fruits are thrown into the waste basket.
I strongly suspect that the fruit vendors have created this custom of offering this many kinds of fruits. They force the gullible Savitris to buy non-edible fruits just to meet the number and earn huge profit.
All ‘parba’ and festivals are turned into business opportunities by enterprising (some of them are unscrupulous) businessmen. They have a profit in ‘ritulaising’ materials. As a result this custom of carrying 9 or 11 or 15 types of fruits for savitri puja, carrying decorated bahungi (bamboo pole) for bol bom yatra, wearing new sarees/dress on all religious festivals have emerged. The market triggers it, a gullible mind and peer pressure does the rest. And within a short time new rituals emerge that makes us ‘buy’ something or the other.

The Slow Death of Adda

As mobile phone becomes ubiquitous and people spend most of their waking time staring into the screen, adda dies a slow death.

Those of you, who are not familiar with this word, let me tell you that adda is a typically Bengali word which broadly means freewheeling group conversation. It can range from serious discourse on a particular topic- any topic under the sun – to loose talk and plain gossip. In an adda the point of discussion keeps meandering and can change all of a sudden. It used to be favourite past time of Bengalis and in different form people of other states too.

Mobile phone is gradually killing this. No body these days engage in idle conversation with the other in a public place. You will hardly find two persons striking a conversation in an airport or in an air conditioned train compartment. Everybody you see will be busy with their mobile phones.

This instrument is slowly killing the great Indian tradition of conversation.

Jackfruit

Jackfruit (kanthal in Hindi and Bangla, Panasa in Odia), the largest tree borne fruit known for its distinctive taste and aroma is the state fruit of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.  Jackfruit grows in many states in India, including Odisha and West Bengal. In Odisha Raja, an agrarian fertility festival can never be imagined without truckloads of jackfruit at the bazar. In Bengal and parts of Odisha tender jackfruit (called katha in Odia and enchor in Bengali) curry is a delicacy.

However, jackfruit has always been held at low esteem compared to say mango or litchi- probably because of its look or its strong aroma or the fact that ripe jackfruit attracts more flies and insects.  Its use has been low compared to other fruits. After it has been chosen as the ‘state fruit’, attempt is being made to jack up its status and utility quotient in Kerala. The Kerala government is planning to promote the ‘Kerala Jack fruit’ as a brand in markets across the country and abroad, highlighting its organic and nutritious qualities and expecting to earn revenue of over Rs 15,000 crores.
However, we have a competition from tiny island country Sri Lanka, which is the world leader in value added jack fruit products and Vietnam.

Karnataka and West Bengal Elections

Karnataka and West Bengal are perceived as two of the advanced and progressive sates of the country with better literacy rate and HDI (Human Development Index) than the National average. Karnataka ranks seventh in the country in the HDI and sixth in the Gender Development Index (GDI). West Bengal ranks thirteenth. The Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite index comprising life expectancy, educational attainment and per capita real GDP.

Both the states had elections recently. There was Panchayat Elections in West Bengal, which was marked by large scale violence killing over two dozen people. Karnataka had Assembly elections that saw high drama (so much so that a Kolkata based English Daily headlined it ‘kar-nataka’.

West Bengal has had a long history of violence during elections. But this year the scale was unprecedented. Karnataka, a state that boasts to be the Silicon Valley of India saw seers and caste equations deciding the results. A hung assembly saw a tug of war to wrest control of the MLAs with allegations of horse trading at a scale never before heard in the country.

It seems the spirit of democracy has left India; what has remained is the carcass surrounded by greedy wolves and vultures partaking the raw flesh of democracy.

Adjustment and Compromise

Adjustment and compromise are two critical components of human relationship.

Adjust when someone wants to be with you.

Compromise when you want to be with someone.

Tail piece 1: Height of Digitalisation

Me: O God save me!

God: as JPG or PDF?

(Courtesy: Social Media)

Tail piece 2: Why?

Smokers burn their lungs out, nobody cares
Drinkers ruin their liver, and people say “wish I had your capacity, man!”

Fat people take an extra helping and everybody loses their mind.

(Courtesy: Deepika singh on facebook)

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Journalist-turned media academician Mrinal Chatterjee also writes fiction. English translation of his Odia novel Shakti is due to release on 6 June at Kalinga Literature Festival in Bhubaneswar. An anthology of his column Window Seat published through 2017 will also be released there.

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