Durga Puja Theme to pick up the cause of ‘Stateless Citizens’

The theme seeks to highlight the unfortunate position of citizens rendered homeless by the NRC in Assam.


The anxiety of 19 lakh citizens left stateless by the National Register of Citizens (Assam) since August 31, 2019 will reflect in the Durga Puja pandal at Rajdanga Naba Uday Sangha this year. While people are excited for the upcoming festivities, the organizing committees of the festival have taken it upon themselves to bring forth the plight of anxious citizens who face an uncertain future in the country.

The Puja at the Sangha is held at in an area that is no stranger to people who have suffered a stateless existence. The locals there, even today recount the horror as they were forced to move to India from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) after the partition.
The theme wishes to showcase the struggles of these people, who have been rendered homeless once already, and now while they’ve slowly pieced their life together, are in the fear of being left homeless once again.

A theme on NRC depicting the sorry state of workers whose relatives did not figure in the list, had also been taken up last year at Haridevpur New Sporting Club in Kolkata.

Pandal Design Theme
A throne, representing state power, is fixed on a globe at the entrance to the pandal. A crown and guns fitted to the throne will convey the brutal power of the state. No figure sits on it.

From the throne, a structure similar to the arm of a crane emerges to hit a gigantic shuttlecock, tearing apart its feathers which are stitched together.

Speaking about what the shuttlecock symbolises, Sushanta Kumar Ghosh, the President of the Sangha and Trinamool councillor said, “The shuttlecock symbolises those who had once lived the life of a refugee. Their well stitched lives are disintegrated when the state strikes. This is exactly what happens to stateless citizens.”

Ghosh added that the shuttlecock represented the refugees aptly, because just like it, the innocent people had been tossed about in the game of politics with no known destination. The theme is aptly named ‘Address’ and Ghosh explains why. He says, “Like a shuttlecock, refugees, too, keeps moving from one place to another in search of an address.”

He also mentioned that the theme for 2019 was decided a year ago. He also went to say, “NRC will make many people refugees, but then it is not the only trigger for our theme. Thousands of people across the world are becoming refugees because of brutal state power.”
Similar Socio-Political Themes
Barak Ghati in Assam will also portray a literary demonstration the disastrous consequences of the NRC at this Durga Puja Pandal this year. The Hindu-Bengalis of Assam who have been left out of the list will express their opposition for not being named in the NRC.

Three clubs – Subhash Milani Club, Sanghashree and Aparajita Durga Puja Club will put up banners, posters, poetry and songs of protest to convey their anger. They will also paste photographs and newspaper clippings of people who committed suicide for fear of anonymity in the NRC.

The Young Boys Club Sarbojanin Durga Puja Committee in Central Kolkata is recreating the events of the Balakot air strikes in which Indian Air force (IAF) jets had bombed a terror outfit’s training camp in Pakistan.
Sixty-five models of approaching IAF personnel and fleeing and dead terrorists will be placed at the entrance to the pandal with a model of an IAF aircraft hovering over it. There will also be a life-size model of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to greet visitors at the pandal.

Should We Celebrate or Ponder?
Durga Puja in Kolkata is a celebration and also a socio-political event. In the past, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee penned the theme songs for popular Durga Puja committees. In one song for Suruchi Sangha she wrote ‘Boichitrer muktoy gantha ekotar monihar’ (the jewel of unity is stitched with a string of pearls of diversity).

But with Narendra Modi pitching to extend the NRC beyond Assam, it is really left to see whether these strings of diversity will be held together or shatter just like the lives of those 19 lakh nameless, stateless citizens who are now strangers in their own country.



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