Embracing ‘all’ this Puja

Ami dekhi chaad er aalo, tumi dakho kolonko... I behold the beauty of the moon; you look at its patches in disgust.

Tumi dakho nari purush, ami dekhi sudhui manush... You are biased with the gender of humans, for me just humanity rules.

Well, there was something that left me spell bound this puja. No! it wasn’t the beauty or the art of the marquees. It was the abstraction that absorbed my emotion, a notion that portrayed humanity is still engraved in the heart of all. It just needs a bit of perforation and jabbing. The LGBTQ theme at DumDum Tarun Dal Puja Pandal was a clear projection of religious groups enveloping gender diversity.

The Pandal depicted the mental trauma given by society towards the third gender community. The entrance pictured the display of colourful kites – a symbol of freedom. Few steps from the entrance was a ‘chile kothar ghor’ which can be commonly understood as an extra room on the terrace of a house with a low ceiling. This small room depicted a transgender captivated in it. Opposite to it was a display of all the activities which the transgenders are usually seen doing as in asking for money at signals, visiting homes in want for money during the birth of a new born, etc. An audio clip was being played which had the sound recorded of a father scolding his transgender child for the shame that the child has brought to the family by virtue of his/her birth. Further into the marquee was a beautiful display of the proclivity that a transgender yearns to do during the lifetime. The winsome unveiling of the fancy of a transgender to get married and lead a normal life was extremely charismatic. How desperately they want their claps to be normally accepted in a society and not be used as a symbol of mockery was very thought arousing.

The decoration of the marquee had palms crossed across each other and birds flying out of it. This was a clear and innovative picturization of how the third-sex wants to break the stereotype and stay unshackled. The palms crossed across each other was commonly referred by the crowd as “icche dana” i.e. “wings of desire”.

The musical play at the pandal was equally distinctive. The unique feature of the song being played was that the melody was sung by a third gender and especially recorded for this purpose. The track went like Jeo na, darao bondhu translating to Dear friend! don’t go away, please wait. The song beautifully encapsulated and displayed the want of the people of the transgender community to stay among the common man. The intersex people too, want to be a part of the society and gain societal acceptance. They too yearn to earn a rank in the society.

The idol at the Pandal was a mix of Lord Krishna and Goddess Durga smashingly displaying gender mix. The martial pose of the idol was replaced by a much feminine pose. The social shunning and perpetual marginalisation of the third gender was the highlight of the Pandal.

I, as a buoyant face of new India, want to question – Do the third genders really deserve this kind of treatment? Where at all have they been at fault being born this way? Isn’t it deplorable that a young person, born with a mix of sex is kept isolated by the family out of shame, awaits such a future?

We can celebrate a festival only when we include people from all diversities. In our 72nd year of independence, egalitarianism must be omnipresent. Only then, shall India be considered a truly free and independent nation.

Kanchan Sharma

PGDM 2019-21

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