ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Festival of Politics

West Bengal’s polity has evolved to confront the sovereignty of singular truths by embracing plurality and populism.

During the last puja season in Bengal, Mamata “Didi” Banerjee travelled the length and breadth of the state, spanning almost three months (part of Bhadra, all of Ashwin, and then part of Kartik months), opening pujas in several places and ending her tour with holding the Kali puja at home. Her colleagues and ministers followed her example. The Durga puja, in fact, began almost a week earlier than what the almanac had advised. In Bengal, such a beginning is called Akaal Bodhan, which means untimely inauguration, untimely homage.

Yet, it seemed to be all in the Didi style: keep people happy, remain happy, be in a festive mood, do not soar too high, do not wish too much, remain modest, and share your enjoyment with others; the goddess will bless you. Each inauguration was characterised by subtle advice on the desirable conduct of life. As she said, through countless government advertisements, “Your religion is yours, my religion is mine, festival is of all” (dharma amar, dharma tomar, utsav shobar). The West Bengal government declared almost 10 days of uninterrupted holidays to enable all to enjoy the festival and share the festive mood. Over the last three to four years, this festival has transformed, aiming to achieve a new community of the people, “a community of Bengal.”

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Updated On : 19th Apr, 2019
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