Thursday, August 13, 2009

Durga Puja

After staying at a hostel near Sudder street (where most tourists end up at, or start from), Sourabh Datta Gupta welcomes me in his flat. He lives 500 metres North of Kalighat metro station, opposite Workhardt Hospital on Rash Behari Avenue, and will be my Kolkata host for a few nights. I'm planning to use Kolkata as a base to explore West Bengal.

It is said that South Kolkata is mainly occupied by sons or grandsons of immigrants from East Bengal, known today as Bengladesh, while people in the North of the city, the Old Town, have been here for more then 4 generations.

Sourabh's family is atheist, and himself is an active member of the Indian Science and Rationalist Association, which raises awareness of the power of the human brain, exposes the inconsistencies of blind religious practices and educates people into behaving in a more civic and lofical manner (civic sense, respect of the environment, education of children). Like his father and grandfather, he had a love marriage and not an arranged one. He works for a public company as well as being an investor on the stock market and being a financial advisor. He therefore enjoys his status of working for the public sector, and makes the money on the market. As he explained it to me, public companies tend to pay around three times less than private ones, but they only make you work five days a week and without doing much overtime, whereas people often work six days a week in private companies.

In Kurmatuli, in the Bakura area, the sculptors and craftsmen are working on the Gods, Goddess and Demons idols for the next big celebration in India and even more important in West Bengal, the Durga Puja ("prayer to Durga"), which takes place during four days at the end of September. Durga has ten arms and a third eye on her forehead.

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