Masks of Bengal | Mukhosh

I was travelling to Ranchi from Kolkata. I saw traditional Bengali masks were being displayed at the departure terminal of the Kolkata airport. It’s a nice way to promote the ancient craft of mask-making in Bengal. Throughout the world, masks are used for their expressive power as a feature of masked performance — both ritually and in various theatre traditions.

Malana | History, Hashish, Himalaya

Malana is an ancient Indian village in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Much before going to Malana village, I had read quite a lot about it.  This solitary village in the Malana Nala, a side valley of the Parvati Valley to the north-east of Kullu Valley, is isolated from the rest of the world. The peaks of Chanderkhani and Deo Tibba shadow the village. It is situated on a remote plateau by the side of the torrential Malana river, at a height of around 10,000 feet above sea level. Malana has its own lifestyle and social structure and people are strict in following their customs. 

Cosmogonic myths of Kolarians

The Kolarian tribes are believed to be one of the earliest settlers in the Indian subcontinent. Kolarians are Austroasiatic speakers. Genetic studies of Austroasiatic speakers suggest that the Austroasiatic language family may have arisen in India and spread east. Santhals, Mundas are two major Kolarian tribes. A myth may be defined as a story that serves to connect individuals to their cultures and to explain natural and supernatural phenomena, including the creation of the world and the origin of humans.

Bhoot Chaturdashi | Bengali Halloween

Ghosts are an important part of the folklore, and form an integral part of the socio-cultural beliefs of the people living in the geographical and ethno-linguistic region of Bengal. Popularly known as the Indian Halloween, Bhoot Chaturdashi is observed on the night before Kali Puja. Observed primarily in the eastern parts of India, it is said that on this night the dead walk among the living. The evil spiritual powers are seemingly heightened on this night. In order to keep the evil spirits at bay, people ritualistically observe Bhoot Chaturdashi every year.

Annakoot | Mountain of Food

Annakoot — Mountain of food — is celebrated in observance of the episode in Sri Krishna’s childhood, in which He gave protection to the cowherd clan of Vrindavan from the wrath of Indra and humbled Indra in that process. The cowherd, their wives, children and cattle jubilantly surrounded Sri Krishna. They were awed by His superhuman accomplishment and celebrated Sri Krishna’s feat with a sumptuous feast. Thus began the tradition of Annakoot.