Monday, November 23, 2015

My unplanned trip to Balurghat


The unplanned Balurghat trip just happened out of the blue between 21st and 22nd November 2015, when my mother wished to visit the place where she had spent 3.5 years of her childhood days. I was trying to go during the time of Diwali but Destiny had something else in store for me. Later my sister also joined us. The journey by Gour Express was terrible –maybe because I always find train journey horrible but overall the trip was adventurous and my mother succeeded in seeing all those places that had etched out memories in her mind, 52 years ago! Accommodation, eating joints and internet connection can pose challenges for an individual if one is not well informed about the place.
 
Tior Kali Temple


We reached Balurghat late and post-lunch we started our sight-seeing with Tior Kali temple, and went on to see the India-Bangladesh border at Hilli, spoke to two Bangladeshi individuals who probably offered “Dawat” to Bangladesh (I could not understand the accented Urdu mixed Bengali language clearly) and the BSF jawan posted there. 
 



While standing on the No-man’s land between India and Bangladesh, I genuinely felt sad and emotional thinking about the consequences of the current and erstwhile political conditions, India’s partition, how the common man has become a victim of the situation. Now one has to take permission to go to the land that was once upon a time, a part of India’s identity.

From Indo-Bangladesh Border we went to see the Choddho Haath Kali temple at Hilli and Bidyeshwari Kali temple at Patiram. Choddho Haath Kali temple sees a 14 human hands long Kali idol worshipped on a new moon night in the winter time. It is attended by the people of India and Bangladesh and this year the puja will be held on 10th of December.


 
Choddo Haath Kali temple

Burama Kali temple


On the second day of our trip, after we visited the Burama Kali temple, we had decided to visit two other places - Bolla Kali temple at Bolla village and the excavated site of Bangarh (not Bhangarh of Rajasthan) that is some 45 kms away from the town. I had read a lot about these two places before we reached Balurghat and my excitement had soared.

Other places where we couldn't go were tomb of Bakhtiyar Khiji on the western side of Bangarh on the bank of Punarbhaga river, Maulana Aata Shah's dwarga, Patiram Thakur Estate, Patiram Dhaam, Sarongbari forest, Tapan Dighi, Dogachi forest, Raghunathpur forest, Barihatta, Kal and Dhal dighi, Mahishbathan, Mahipal lake, Shamibrikhkho and Panch bhaya village, Matasha lake, Jyotirmoyee temple, Baba Agnihotri temple, Khanpur, Kulik Bird Sanctuary at Raiganj, Usha Haran Road.

Before I write further, I must mention that mad people like me and my sister who have interests in seeing these things would perceive things differently. What surprised us immensely was the fact that the people whom we had met before going to these two places, said – “there was nothing to see at Bangarh” nor could they say anything clearly about the Bolla Kali temple.

Bangarh:


Before going to Bangarh, one must visit the Dinajpur District Museum and see the excavated statues and figurines acquired from various sites in and around Balurghat. Most of these comprise Vishnu, Saraswati, Lakshmi Narayan, Vasudev, Surya, Manasha, Ganpati, Shiva (and Nataraj), Kali, Bhairav, Bramha, Chandi, Ardha Narishwar from the eras of the Mauryans, Guptas, Palas and the Senas. 










The finesse with which some of the statues – sculpted out of slate or black granite stones - were done during the era of the Senas differentiates them from that of the Pala dynasty. And we also get an idea about the religious influence of those eras.



When we entered the Museum, we got to see a black coloured Nandi bull, a flat cylindrical wheel like structure next to it and a ganpati statue behind it. I was purchasing the tickets while my sister was touching the bull. Suddenly, she smiled and told me to feel it. It was pulsating and so were the flat cylindrical wheel and the ganpati behind it. Deepta you must see these things! I was surprised and enquired about the centuries they belonged to. The person gave a vague reply and took us around to show us the other contents. 










I must say that alongwith all these there were some old coins, thing like the eight annas stamp papers; or the parchment papers bearing ‘Manashamangal’ epic text that reminded me of my ICSE/ ISCE Bengali papers.
  




One of the black rocks at the Bangarh site and the four octagonal pillars of Vishnu temple still pulsate when one touches them. One interesting thing about the pillars is the carvings on them - pyramidal and rectangular forms.


   


From ancient manuscripts and inscriptions archaeologists have come to know that there was a district named Kotibarsha with its capital at Devkot near Gangarampur town, which was locally known as Bangarh, which is located at a distance of about 45 km from Balurghat. The place has historical significance, as numerous excavations have unearthed several archaeological ruins and icons, especially from the Mauryan period to the Muslim period.




In fact, during the Gupta period, Bangarh was the capital of the district of Koti Barsha in erstwhile ‘Pundra Vardhana Bhukti Pradesh’ or North Bengal. The list of ancient remnants discovered here includes manuscript of King Naipala of 11th c., statue of century, octagonal granite pillars of an old Vishnu temple, walls of buildings, statues and other small objects.




The ruins of Bangarh tell a lot about the importance of this area. Its capital town Devkot is considered to be a historically famous place, from where a large number of inscriptions dating from Ashoka age to the Middle ages, have been discovered.


The four pillars of Vishnu, which the local people call “Chaartey Kola Gaach” is now surrounded by huts near a Catholic church in the heart of a village in Bangarh. 

Till date one can see some slate pieces strewn around, fragments of some sculptures scattered here and there. Some villagers have found pieces and have retained them without knowing the importance. One young man even mentioned that a Lakshmi Vishnu idol had been snatched away from him by some people traveling on the highway on one night. He was offered 50,000/- to a lakh of rupees for handing over the idol but he insisted that he would like to retain it for his worship purposes. He was forced to part with it when they held the pistol at his head.

While returning from Bangarh we missed the dwarga at the excavated site; and the 260 years old Kantaji temple, which has intricate terracotta works on it walls and is located at Bangarh because the driver was unaware of its existence. Built on sandstones blocks during the reign of Maharaja Prannath, the nava-ratna temple had four corner towers decorated with rich ornaments and was dedicated to Radha Krishna. On its third storey there was a central tower that collapsed in the 19th c.




Bolla Kali Temple:

 Frankly speaking, Wiccans like Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, Deepta Roy Chakraverti; or people who study Tantra might be able to tell more accurately about earth's potent energies and the Devi's power felt at these kinds of sites – at Tior Kali & Choddo Haath Kali temples (Hilli), Burama Kali temple (Balurghat bazaar), Trikul Kali (near Balurghat), Bidyeshwari Kali temple (Patiram), Bolla Kali temple (Bolla village), Shuur Kali temple (popularly known as Daakat Kali though it was never worshiped by dacoits), and so on. Except for the Trikul Kali temple I could manage to see all of them and each one of them has an interesting story to tell! For me Bolla Kali turned out to be the star attraction of my entire Balurghat trip. She was like a showstopper of a fashion show – keeping people eagerly waiting till the end of the ramp walk on the T-shaped stage! I actually felt like that when the driver told us to visit her at the end of our sight-seeing else we might not be able to pay a proper visit.

The village Bolla is situated 20 km away from Balurghat town on the Balurghat- Malda Highway. There is a famous Kali temple named after BOLLA Ma Kali. The story behind the temple says that a zamindar was arrested by the British as he could not pay the tax for his zamindari. Goddess Kali came to his rescue and the Zamindar was freed the very next day. As a token of gratitude, he built a temple of Goddess Kali and started worshipping her. This is a story that we get to see in the website but the book written by Dr Hirendra Narayan Sarkar says a completely different story.


Some believe that worship of Bolla Kali in this belt dates back to 10th or 11th c. AD, during the last segment of the Pala dynasty rule at Bangarh. It was during that time when Tantra was taking a concrete shape in North Bengal belt alongwith Buddhism and Jainism. Initially, the Goddess was worshiped in the Tantric format by various sages and it is believed that as a result the potency of the place has thus increased. Even today the first Friday after Raash purnima (full moon cycle that mostly falls in and around every November) witnesses 3.5 lakh devotees visiting the village. 


A three-day fair is organised at the village during this time. People who see their wishes getting fulfilled go there – offer animal sacrifice/ donate various things including ornaments made out of precious metals and stones/ small Kali idols of various sizes during this puja. One would see people working tirelessly with yellow coloured ‘Etel’ mud and straw creating thousands of idols for those three days affair.  

This year from Friday 27th to 30th November 2015 would be the time when the devotees will witness the idol of the Goddess bedecked in jewels that are kept with State Bank of India.

I was impressed by the huge unfinished Kali idol that is equivalent to the length of 7.5 human hands and the ambience within the temple premises, which saw many other devotees sitting around the purohit and praying. Both my sister and I were totally awestruck and stared at her, mesmerized. Instantly, a strange calmness descended upon me and all the unnecessary stress acquired over the past two and a half years - in my professional life - seemed to ebb away. I was overwhelmed and was convinced about the purpose that had actually dragged me to Balurghat.

When I had stepped out I was completely relaxed and while I remembered Deepta Roy Chakraverti’s words, there was a smile on my lips. My school friend Indrani Biswas had also said a similar positive thing before I had started towards Balurghat. My college friend Debjani Chunder sounded super-excited when she had heard about the trip and said - “You can go only when there is a divine call for you” - when she heard about Bolla Kali and other Kali temples in that region. 

If the Goddess so wishes I will go there again to see her in the near future even if it is only for 15 minutes. And may the Goddess bless both of you – Deepta and Indrani for being so understanding and supportive!


- Nilanjana. 23rd November 2015

Saturday, January 31, 2015

How my past lives have influenced my current lifetime!

I never knew why Christmas carols or Buddhist chanting or esoteric stuffs create a strong impact on me; whereas I don’t feel that affinity towards Hinduisim even though I am a Hindu by religion in this lifetime. Yes, the persona of Krishna or Indian mythology fascinate me a lot, the way the serene expression on Buddha’s face does! Why do some people seem so familiar and you can read them well, or why your rationale try to suppress your intuition when you see people and feel something: all these things have deep-seated connection with your past lives!


You may like to call me mad but every time I happen to get into deep meditation to do past life regression in order to unravel a mystery, I come across something new. Between April and October 2013, I underwent past life regression thrice (didn’t succeed during the fourth attempt) and received answers to my questions related to my life’s purpose. In 17th c I found myself in the western world born as a Frenchman serving Christianity through a foundation and the society, and in 19th c India, I saw myself as a non-Indian businesswoman. In both the lifetimes, I saw three individuals from this lifetime that played significant roles – two of them (who play major roles in my professional life now) were related to my professional lives in 17th and late 19th centuries. The third one who was there in both the lifetimes as a supportive friend (17th c) and spouse (19th c), gives good guidance in this lifetime.
I had a curiosity about my lifetime in 18th c and so one day I was back-calculating about my earlier lifetimes - with the help of a software that works on the natal chart – using my date and time of birth. The results showed that probably I was born twice – once as a magus deeply into esoteric stuffs and also in South-east Asia heavily into art and music and supporting the downtrodden. Another prediction showed that maybe I was also born in the Pre-Christian era as a Roman nobleman, and probably that is why I have a strong liking for Greek and Roman mythologies.

The earlier past life regression experiences didn’t leave me upset even when I saw myself becoming a rich widow at a young age and taking up the reins of business in 1950s. I understood that in each lifetime I would have to be professionally and spiritually active but I do miss that 19th c spouse or 17th c friend. But what happened between 30th January and 1st February 2015 was something totally strange and had a strange healing effect on my psyche.

An associate at office gave a Buddhist mantra to listen to and she and another colleague said that immediately I went into a trance, had a flushed face and was swaying – a similar state of body and mind happens when one does past life regression. I could only sense that my body went numb and was trembling, with tears of both pain and gratitude running down my cheeks when suddenly I had a vision of a huge Buddha statue draped in bright yellow (with a thin red border) in a monastery; and a monk dressed in saffron walking off with his back turned towards me. I am not very sure whether the monk was my own self or someone for whom I deeply cared.

On 30th January and 1st February early mornings I played that mantra again and underwent a deep meditation for a longer duration to have a better understanding. Deep within I felt a sharp pang alongwith the anguish for losing something precious; it was as if I had resentment towards my Fate for taking away someone who was very dear to me and at the same time a sense of gratitude towards that statue of Buddha for supporting me during my trying times. It was a feeling that I never felt before. My tarot card reading yesterday confirmed about the reason of separation (the monk walking off was my twin soul) in the past lifetime but I still don’t have any anger towards him in this lifetime.

I didn’t realize that the unresolved issue from one of my past lives had created such a strong impact on my soul that the pain was wringing out tears from my eyes, which I didn’t try to check at that moment. But now am feeling a lot lighter because I have realised that it was a twin soul connection where we had to learn our respective lessons. I was frequently getting to see some positive omens shielded by Archangel Michael’s aura during psychic meditation sessions, since October 2014 regarding this twin flame issue. The heaviness in the heart is now gone and I felt Archangel Raphael’s aura leading to a calm of mind. Every time you undergo a past life regression session, you will witness some changes coming up in your life that will set you free from the psychic patterns of karmic obligation. It has happened with me earlier and I know that I will see some changes coming up soon!

As Dr Brian Weiss says, twin souls or soulmate relationships do not always materialize - maybe the partners meet briefly or cross each other's path to choose two different roads. If at all they meet for a lifetime then it will be only once in every hundreds or thousand years, but then for the relationship to be successfully working till the end it will involve investment of time and energy because there will be a lot of opposing forces operational whenever they come in close contact.

Signs of a twinflame/ twin soul relationships:

(http://www.twinflamesoulmates.com/twin-flame-signs.html)

There may be an unusual synchronicity or event that surround the initial meeting between first flames. Often you have a feeling or 'knowing' of something that you just can't quite put into words. Twinflames often encounter each other for the first time (whether in person or online) in an unusual way. The twinflame comes into our life in an unexpected way out of the blue and usually there are synchonicities and strange occurances or major shifts in energy the same week of the initial meeting. 

Most twinflame couples are physically at a distance or live in different countries. Often there is something that prevents the twinflames from being physically together in the beginning. This is usually because there is much energetic work to be done on the mental and emotional levels before the physical meeting can occur. If the physical meeting were to occur too soon the energy can often be too intense. 

The relationship is immediate, as though no time had been lost since you were last together. You feel comfortable with them and you feel you can truly be yourself with them. Sometimes conversation seem to last forever and there is not much that twinflames are not willing to talk about. It's as if you could share your entire life with this person and there is a level of openness and understanding between you that brings a comfortable yet intruiguing sense of familiarity. 
Shadows of lovers holding handsYou feel an overwhelming sense of love and attraction. This love is genuine and heartfelt and you feel magnetically drawn to their energy. This is not to be confused with lust or an obsessive love. Twinflame love is unconditional and transcends the ego. If you have found your twinflame it does not mean that the relationship will necessarily be free from issues or personal conflict. There may still be lessons and healing that must take place between the twin souls. Twinflames are still human beings on the physical level. 

You feel a sense of completion that goes beyond words. This feeling is about wholeness on a soul level that is beyond the physical. Each twinflame is still an individual and is not 'the other half of your soul' as if you are a complete soul now that you have found them. You are meeting an energetic mirror of your own soul. You share a vibration and you resonate with them. You even feel an attraction to the sound of their voice and it may even sound familiar to you. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Designing of RP-SG Group calendar, diary and greeting card 2015: my experience


Expressions! What imagery does it conjure up in our mind?

Since our childhood days we are taught that the face is supposed to be the mirror of one’s mind, the facial expression is nothing but its silent language while bringing out some facets of the persona.  Portraiture is one such technique that encourages an artist to delve deep into the recesses of her/ his subject’s character (of the portrait) in order to explore the numerous layers within a subject’s personality. Once an artist adorns her/ his work of art with feelings and emotions, the creation comes to life. And that is what it makes a portrait – be it realistic or abstract - so meaningful! ‘Expressions: the power of portraits’ is a well chosen theme for RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group’s calendar, greeting card and diary for the year 2015.


RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group greeting card 2015

RPG Group and RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group are known for their “elegant” and “classy” calendars. On 22nd October 2014, the eve of Diwali, after our celebrations at office got over, my former boss Sunil Bhandari, Executive Director – Corporate, sat down to discuss the calendar, greeting cards and diary; and showed me the photographs of the paintings, which he and the Chairman had shortlisted (except for the one of Bikash Bhattacharjee that later on I wanted to use for November-December in the calendar), and asked me how would I like to design the layouts. I suggested a basic layout based on whatever I’d visualized at that moment. But it was evident that unless and until I give them some shape it would seem vague for him. He decided to have a chat with my current reporting manager Sanjay Gupta, Head – Corporate Marketing, RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, and the CEO of Au Bon Pain, for resource allocation; and also have the high resolution images of the paintings sent to me through Kankan Banerjee by the following week so that I could start my work with an immediate effect.


  
  
 
  
RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group calendar 2015

Unlike the previous years, this time Sunil Bhandari wanted to complete the work before the yearend and set a deadline of exactly 10 days for me for showing him the final layouts. He had been far more flexible for the ad/ designing agencies in the recent past that had stretched things to more than a month and a half, resulting in unnecessary delays in designing and dispatching the products throughout the first month of the new year. There is always a difference between a job being outsourced and the job being done in-house, in terms of the sense of onus and timeframe, setup and manpower involved, quality of the output and the efforts put in. And probably which is why people tend to rely more on the agencies and label them as professionals. My experience in this case is different – even though I was never considered as a “professional” but time and again I was asked to intervene for providing creative solutions like designing/ creating the last page of the calendar or a DVD cover for the outsourced job and so on. I remember pointing it out once to my ex-boss. It used to be a ‘ghar ka murgi daal barabar’ situation! But this time, I was surprised that three reputed ad agencies that are considered as “professionals” became apprehensive and hesitated to do the job after getting the brief from Sunil Bhandari. And a decision needed to be taken between the fourth one and me, the ‘ghar ka murgi’. His assistant Madhuja felt that since I’d done these types of jobs in the past, I could do it while his other team member Saumyapriya felt that it would be a mammoth task for one person, so it should be given to some other agency.

  
From left: RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group diary cover, back cover with spines on the either side, flap attached to one of the spines, page with poem/ quotes and the poet's signature, and other inner pages for writing 
 

Knowing my current relaxed state of mind and speed, I started my work on 29th October with a few conditions including the fact that that to save time and get rid of unnecessary confusion that usually arises due to diverse opinions, the final intelligent and filtered feedback from his current team should come via Sunil Bhandari only. Since I had worked with him for 14 years and being aware of his artistic sensibilities, I could rely on his feedback. In three days’ time, I gave shape to the layouts of the calendar, diary and the greeting card. Once he approved, I started developing the three things in Adobe Photoshop and Corel Draw. The job got completed in 14 working days and there were two areas where Sunil Bhandari chose to intervene – the images/ layout of the calendar cover, and the typefaces (14 font styles were downloaded by him) used on the calendar and diary covers, the inner page of the greeting card. I have used four amongst those downloaded fonts in three internal pages of the diary.

When I look back to the calendar design that I did for 2011, I clearly see the difference in terms of the output quality (though nobody else will be able to make out the difference), and my speed that has drastically improved in the last 1.5 years after my transfer to the Corporate Marketing department, thanks to my current relaxed state of mind. Unlike the ad agencies that worked in the past on this assignment, I completed the job in 14 working days’ time. I see this as a great achievement for myself! J

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Jaatishwar

Was watching 'jaatishwar' last night. Prosenjit's performance - effortlessly switching from one character (Antony) to another (Kushal) - haunts us. Jisshu and Swastika did justice to their roles. But comparing this film to that of Uttam Kumar's would be improper. The subjects are slightly dissimilar and so are the modes of treating them.

The film gives us an insight into the 18th c. Bengal literature and culture and leaves us with the desire to delve deep into the 18th & 19th c. history of Bengal.

The main plot was loosely woven and the sub-plot involving riya sen was unnecessary. Infact, like 'Mishor Rohoshya', the main plot was uselessly stretched and was then hastened to the climax! Thankfully, Mahamaya wasn't forced to remember her past, the moment she went to Kushal's residence at Chandannagar. Not always do the people whom we see in our previous lives tend to remember/ get the feeling of deja vu when we meet them in the current lifetime. Regarding Mahamaya's resemblance to Mini's (Antony's wife) face, there was nothing absurd. The features can continue to remain same/ more or less similar in two or more lifetimes.

Unlike Vikram Bhatt's movie on past life regression & reincarnation that led people to criticise it, Srijit Mukherjee has explained the subject quite logically through the character of the psychiatrist. He spoke about parapsychology and also mentioned that past life regression is a therapy. I personally underwent past life regression thrice and it is therapeutic (something which most people don't understand and come up with silly/ expert comments).


- Nilanjana

Saturday, November 3, 2012

From the pages of my diary…

theme pandal at siddheswari garden aabashikbrinda.
 




'Accountability' is a word that reigns our thoughts when we are employed in an organisation. But this very word had the same impact on my psychological being since mid-July 2012, when I was chosen by the residents of SD Tower as a member of the Puja Committee, for a community service named Durgotsav! I felt accountable to the residents who selected me in the General Body meeting 2012 and hence making an attempt to connect with all of you through this platform.

with puja and apex committee members
 

Initially I was extremely pleased with my responsibilities that were confined to the ideation and planning of the pandal and idol concept, cultural activities, designing of some of the creatives and publicity & promotion. Being an artist and graphic designer by hobby and profession respectively, the pleasure of implementing these tasks was immense, and it had a very positive impression on my mind till I started facing resistance. Thankfully, the residents always came to my rescue on time! Even though I fought to defend my ideas, I had to run away twice to avoid getting embroiled in silly controversial issues. Some of the ladies with strong spine and who knew that my aim was also to highlight the ladies through cultural activities also came forward and supported me in my work!
nari shakti
 
One thing was clearly evident to me that after becoming a part of the Puja Committee, many of us tend to forget that we are accountable to the majority of the 1200 residents who are paying puja subscription. Rather a sense of vanity replaces the thought that we are doing some community service through our monetary and non-monetary contributions. We at times tend to give an excuse “residents won’t be able to appreciate it” keeping actually our own taste and preferences in mind, and get external artistes even if their quality do not justify the charges.
Another thing which I keenly realised while working for the puja is that it is not the responsibility of SD Tower puja committee to bear the weight of every family who is not paying puja subscription. There are other expenses to be taken care of, so if we think that we are unable to give the yearly puja subscription of Rs 1200 then we can give only Rs 250 that goes to other puja pandals outside the housing complex. Could we have avoided giving subscription if we were staying in the same locality but outside the housing complex? We would have had to give that bare minimum of Rs 250!
When it comes to community lunch, the building committee members, instead of getting biased for their own friends in the building, must act practically by keeping the entire community in mind. We also need to understand that against the subscription (it takes care of the community lunch as well), a building secretary cannot act selfishly by just giving away the community lunch coupons too leniently. It has been observed over the years that some of the secretaries give away excess food coupons to their friends and neighbours in the same building, than the actual number of heads per family. As result, the secretary is in the good books of their friends but INDIRECTLY is responsible for a shortage of food items when the community lunch is served.
sneha pareek and dhruti walk the ramp
 
A request to all the residents: do involve more teenagers and ladies from various communities, for Durga Puja! I strongly believe that intelligent teenagers and proactive young people below 45 years of age, and maybe some people above 45 years who constantly upgrade themselves – would add more value when it comes to such community services! This thought helped me to have faith in the smart and mature 14 years old Sneha Pareek when I used to observe her towards the end of 2011, though we never had any interaction till we started working together! Some of the faces that come to my mind are - the talented Trina Maitra, the cool identical twins Ritika and Kritika Dutta (the duo give support to their mother, Rajashree Dutta for rituals), the vivacious Ayelita Ghosh, the young violinist Utsav Biswas and chess player Anusil Das; and a few more (names of whom are unknown to me), should be given responsibilities during such events. These smart kids can do wonders because they are more creative and flexible than most of the people who are in the age groups of 40s and 50s! A small example: my  intelligent little co-host, Sneha Pareek, once came up with some suggestions for the promotion of the Puja, which as a Puja Committee member, I could think, maybe only because of my MBA specialization in Marketing Communications! 
Whatever I wanted to see during the tenth Durgotsav, got materialized inspite of the challenges and limitations that cropped up before me – be it the theme pandal, probhaatanusthaan, association with an NGO, the effective utilisation of Sneha Pareek’s strengths in cultural activities, highlighting our ladies who play key roles but remain behind the scene, the involvement of residents (adults and kids) from various communities in great numbers;  our position in the 2nd round for both Sambad Pratidin and The Times of India Bari Puja contests, a minimum of ‘596 Likes’ in the powerful social media, the positive feedback from the majority (residents) and outsiders (via word of mouth); and overall there was warmth that I have always found missing in the earlier years!
And this would not have had happened without the enormous support from most of the residents; Apex Committee members - Subrata Das and Vikash Pareek; and last but certainly not the least, the President - Puja Committee, Susanta Sarkar! Another person whose artisitic sensibilities one could easily rely upon was our bindas “live Ashur” Manas Biswas, who effectively monitored the decorator's and the artists’ jobs, whenever he got free from his professional responsibilities; and also gave support to the cultural sub-committee as when required! Biswanath Sharma, our efficient treasurer, always used to be near the stage, whenever the puja committee had to pay the artistes and others! The Vice President - Puja Committee and a senior scientist by profession, Dr. Sourav Basu, had always been a patient listener and a peacemaker! As a result, he instantly produced a fire-extinguisher, first aid box and some biodegradable black disposable bags when I placed a request -  just before Sambad Pratidin and The Times of India teams came to visit our pandal! He also brought in an NGO run by Balaram Karan, a well social worker based out of Midnapur district of West Bengal, India.
The acknowledgement from the residents like Rina and Alok Mitra, Sudeshna Mukherjee, Trina Maitra, Rajesh Keswani and others - was my greatest reward for the community service, in which I was involved for the past three months! After the entire phase of mental struggle that I went through while working, the appreciation from most of the residents gave me a pleasant surprise and a deep sense of victory against all odds! It was the same kind of surprise and satisfaction which I experienced way back in September 1999, when I was receiving a state-level 'Paschim Banger Kirtimaan Manush' award in the Fine Arts category from Rotary International at Oberoi Calcutta. And probably that was why I couldn’t express my emotions well, when Rina-di was handing over the token of appreciation. Well, what more could one ask for? All the best to the residents for another great puja in 2013! J