Millennium Post

Puja pandal driving home a message on social contradictions

Kolkata: At a time when the the city is enamoured in celebrating Devi Paksha -- the time when Goddess Durga wages a battle against the demon Mahisasura and destroys evil -- a Durga Puja pandal in north Kolkata is quietly delivering a message on social how women empowerment still remains a far cry.
For the Kankurgachi Mitali Durga Puja Committee, the timing couldn't have been better. Durga Puja is a time to celebrate "Stree Shakti" or women power, but in reality, there is no respite for women as they remain chained to the chores.
The puja organisers have shot a three-part short film and are beaming it outside the pandal to catch the eye of the thousands of pandal hoppers. Titled 'Upachare Bandi' (bound by rituals), the short film is a rundown of social contradictions.
"This is a short film - a three-part presentation before thousands of puja revellers - featuring three women belonging to different age groups who find their wishes dashed and movement fettered by certain societal norms and rituals. So, while on the one hand we are celebrating 'Stree Shakti' we are not allowing women in the families to participate citing certain norms.
"Upachare Bandi brings out this inherent hypocrisy in society where the invocation of the mother goddess follows a series of rituals which at times prevent women from participating in the festival in certain situations," one of the two directors, Aritrik Bhattacharyya said.
The film is a collage. In one bit, a teen girl who has been counting down for the past several months to offer 'Pushpanjali' on Mahashtami day is suddenly asked by her mother not to visit the neighbourhood puja pandal as she had menstruated, the other director Arkamoy Datta Majumder said. In the two bits - a married woman is asked not to visit the pandal during the time of 'Pushpanjali' as the maid has not turned up and an elderly woman has to shelve her plans to meet other members of her group at the puja pandal as her son and daughter-in-law asks her to look after her child at the new flat.
Somasree Barik, a woman visiting the pandal with her family, said "This shows how women are not free in real sense in this society."
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