Bahurupi: Dying Folk Culture of Bengal

A Bahurupi is a street performer, dressed up in various characters in different times and it is considered one of the ancient professions. For most performances, there is a story structured into the persona of the performer himself within his make-up, costume and role. Historically, these bohurupis would dress up as Hindu gods, goddesses, or mythical characters like Ram, Shiva, Kali, and so on and perform in front of Kings and zamindars. My first encounter with a bahurupi happened through one such immensely popular literary work titled Srikanta by ‘Katha shilpi’ Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay.

A Musical Evening in Baghdad

Attended a live musical concert performed by the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra at the National Theater in Baghdad, Iraq. The performance of the orchestra was pretty good. The theatre was quite full. The audience enjoyed the live classical music performance with silence and applause at the end. It was a wonderful musical evening. I enjoyed it very much.

Sarna | Grove of Faith in Jharkhand

Groves, which are being worshipped since times immemorial are a cluster of trees where gods, goddesses, spirits are believed to reside. No one really knows for sure when and how humanity embarked on the veneration of trees and groves. The sacred groves are significant spots of biodiversity too are a priceless heritage of our nation that should be preserved for posterity.

Nabapatrika | Unique Ritual of Durga Puja

Nabapatrika was a popular ancient ritual performed by the peasants/farmers worshipping Mother Nature for rich and bountiful harvest. With the popularity of the Durga Puja, this ritual was assimilated in the festivities. This important ritual of Durga Puja is an example of inclusiveness — harmonious synthesis of Vedic and ancient non-Vedic rituals. As we cry for climate change and environment, here is the highest form of regard for the environment where goddess Durga is symbolized by the Banana Plant and the important plants and trees are worshiped for the preservation instead of devastation.

Shops Without Shopkeepers | Mizoram

Hidden from the world’s eye in between Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, and Myanmar, the North Eastern region of India seems detached from the rest of the nation — even on the map. Inside the deep jungles of Mizoram, just two to three hours from the state capital Aizawl, the local Mizo community practices a unique tradition: nghah loh dawr or shops without shopkeepers. The people of Mizoram are true role-models for us to be inspired from. We should all aspire to reach their collective sense of honesty and integrity.

Durga Puja in Kolkata | Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Kolkata’s Durga Puja is India’s official nomination for the 2020 edition of the UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Durga Puja is not only a religious festival, it is the most significant socio-cultural event in Bengal. Though predominantly originated in the Hindu ritual and legends, the Durga Puja celebration cross cuts the communal divide in many of its attributes. It is an epitome of harmony across caste, class, creed and religion.

Shahi Snan on Mauni Amavasya | Kumbh

The Kumbh Mela — the largest congregation in the world — sees world gathering of saints, pilgrims, devotees to take holy dips in the sacred confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the mystical Saraswati. Bathing in these rivers is thought to cleanse and purify ones’ soul of all sins. Recognized by UNESCO as India’s ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’, Kumbh Mela never ceases to amaze and its amazement is always felt in the grandeur of it being the largest religious-cultural festival in the world. 

Significance of Rituals

The act of ritual is a common thread that has linked humanity throughout the ages, regardless of ethnicity, culture or religion. Through ritual we build families and community, we make transitions and mark important events in our lives, we express ourselves in joy and sorrow, and perhaps, most importantly, we create and sustain identity. Our ancient ancestors used the bond of ritual to create ties of kinship necessary for survival in a world rife with dangers.

Centre of Adda Culture in Baghdad | Shahbandar Café

Shahbandar café is one of Bagh­dad’s few remaining traditional cultural cafés. Since opening its doors, Shahbandar café had become a hub of Baghdad’s intellectual life, drawing poets and politicians to its wooden benches and photo-lined walls.  The café still stands, a testament to the resilience of the country and the capital, Baghdad, even if so much has happened here. From British rule to modern-day Iraq, Shahbandar has lived through the birth of a nation, the toppling of its monarchy, decades of domination by Saddam Hussein, the drama of the US-led invasion and the bloody chaos that followed.