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Tandav – A Reason to be in Calcutta

Tandav – A Reason to be in Calcutta

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When Suranjana heard the word Tandav, she cancelled her tickets to Bangalore. Read this story of Hazra Park Durgotsab Committee whose eye catching theme this Durga Pujo is Tandav

Suranjana was terribly late, so she concluded “…and those were the time the world witnessed the horrific incidents of The World War II. It was a time of grief, yet was hopelessly romantic.”

She thought of ending the session here but then decided to give the introduction for the next class. She continued “While the world was in a state of hope, Calcutta which otherwise emerged as an intellectually developed City was still practicing untouchability. Those days Durga Pujo was mainly done in palaces or houses of high caste families where lower castes were not even allowed to enter. It was beyond imagination for these under-privileged people. But the society evolved with time which we would discuss in the next session.”

She was about to leave when one of her students said “But madam I read somewhere that in the year 1942 a pujo was organized by Hazra Park Durgotsab committee with the support from Calcutta Municipal Corporation. It was under the guidance of the then Mayor Sri C.R. Das and CEO Sri Subhas Chandra Bose. This Pujo opened its gates for the common masses including the under-privileged, backward classes and Harijans.”

“Yes” replied Suranjana “as a matter of fact the tradition of serving Bhog to about 1000 Harijans is practiced till date. This is a symbol of respect for the generations who have kept the city clean since years. It is also a powerful statement that despite one’s birth, every man is created equal and should be treated same. We shall discuss this in my next sessions.”

Paandal making at Hazra Park Durgotsab
The makig of the pandaal at Hazra Park Durgotsab

Saying this Suranjana rushed towards the common room when she heard Dr. Chatterjee, the HOD of Physics talking “….It was Antoine Lavoisier who came up with the law of conservation of mass in the year 1789. Modern day scientists describes this as a continuous process happening every day as unseen creation. The daily cycle of destruction and creation is created in the nuclear instability that occurs at different levels of the universe and helps in keeping a balance. The entire universe becomes a single source of energy. Again, that single energy is transformed and the universe becomes a reservoir of a single energy which is transformed into multi-dimensional ones.”

To this Professor Ganguly, the HOD for religious anthropology argued “But years earlier ancient Vedic Texts narrates an idea called Tandava . Actually it was a dance form by Shiva. However if you analyze it carefully you will find it not just to be a dance form, it talks about the creator and the destroyer at the same time.”

Now, now don’t get carried away. This story is neither about quantum physics nor mythology. This is a story of Durga Pujo which is all about fun and celebration. So go on, read the story…

Suranjana wanted to ignore this discussion as she had a flight to board for Bangalore to join her family during Pujo holidays. But then she heard Professor Gupta “Do you know the theme of the 80 year old pujo by Hazra Park Durgotsab?”He was trying to avoid an unnecessary debate.

“What?” asked Dr. Chatterjee, losing his concentration on the debate.

Young boy working at Hazra Park Durgotsab's pandaal
Young boy working at Hazra Park Durgotsab’s pandaal

“This Pujo of South Kolkata has come up with an eye-catching theme ‘Tandav’ this time. This year they are showing the force of life. This work will be a daily witness to the viewer in his artistic application. They will show how it has become a tangible part of human life and the artist’s impression of Tandav across different spheres of society.”

This made Suranjana intrigued and she went closer to Professor Gupta and asked. “How exactly will it be?”

“Well I heard Mr. Sayan Deb Chatterjee, Joint Secretary of Hazra Park Durgotsab Committee say that ‘this year’s theme is to think of the continuous process of the universe. The theme is Tandav which is actually a physical document of human life. The main idea of the theme is Tandava, which is basically no specific moment, rather a continuous process. According to the theory of creation, violence happens every day somewhere in this universe. The reservoirs of destruction and creation are formed in the nuclear instability occurring at different levels of the universe. The puja was initially held at Bhowanipore for a few years, it moved to Hazra Park in 1945. From the very beginning this puja has spoken against untouchability.’ I cancelled all my plans and waiting for this pujo.”

Suranjana thought to herself this actually sounds like when the unbridled rains wash away vast tracts of land, rehabilitation centres emerge as the new homes for the homeless who have lost almost everything except their undying spirit against the frenzied excesses of nature. As the storm continues to wreak havoc, it destroys nature and human lives alike as thousands of trees get uprooted and laid into death bed. It degenerates an entire human civilisation, and with the power to demolish a modern society at the snap of its fingers, mother nature evokes a primitive battle between the nature and a modern civilisation.

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Though modern machines and technology have helped the human civilization grow leaps and bounces, leaving behind our primitive beliefs, cultures and values yet time and again, mother nature has showcased her supremacy.

Take for instances the recent events where the entire world succumbed to a microscopic virus. With the struggle for existence looming large, the human society came to a standstill. Despite having the best of technologies, the virus shook the very cornerstone of human existence and showcased how vulnerable we are to the whims of nature. With no time, the virus spread its wings across the globe and affected the rich and poor and the old and young alike, transcending the man-made barriers. Perpetuated by a culture of rugged individualism and capitalism’s prioritization of work above everything else, the rapid spread of the pandemic led to the shattering of many dreams, and many losing their loved ones. In reality, it created a Tandav in human history.

But, being human, we continued to fight with a hope of a better tomorrow building on our experience of the past. Perhaps, the pandemic was an invitation to examine our societal dreams, and build something that can better support humans in crisis. In the process of rebuilding for a better tomorrow, we realised that it is a constant process of rethinking and reworking around our mother that would drive humanity ahead. Just like the sea waves, which are in a never-ending process of rebuilding.

Many consider Tandav as a destructive force. But, traversing the pages of human history, once can see that Tandav is being referred to a special moment which initiates the change process, when something new is being conceived while something is destroyed. Change is a part of life, as nothing is static for long. Change is necessary for life, and so, change is inevitable. So, one must embrace this aspect and go along with the ups and downs of life. Instead of losing our hearts, we should learn from our past.

Glimse of Maa Durga Idol at Hazra Park Durgotsab venue
Glimse of Maa Durga Idol at Hazra Park Durgotsab venue

She was deep in such thoughts when she realized that this puja organizers want the 2022 Durgotsab to become a place of great harmony, forgetting the pain of loss of the last three years. But all-round worship of mother will be beneficial. What she did next was she picked up her phone and cancelled her tickets. Next she called up her family in Bangalore and asked them to come to Calcutta instead. She was happy to take this decision as this is what how the cosmos works and she has this wonderful opportunity to witness this phenomenon in the form of an art at this Pujo in Hazra Park.

Suranjana took the right decision. What about you?

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