Kolkata sex workers get their own Durga puja

Thu Oct 10 2013, 10:13 hrs
Durga puja this year will be a monumental event for the sex workers in Kolkata's Sonagachi - said to be the largest red light area in Asia.Former sex workers inaugurated the first ever Durga Puja in Sonaganchi area, the biggest red light area in Asia, organised by the sex workers organisation Durbar, in Kolkata. (IE photo: Partha Paul)
Durga puja this year will be a monumental event for the sex workers in Kolkata's Sonagachi - said to be the largest red light area in Asia.
Former sex workers inaugurated the first ever Durga Puja in Sonaganchi area, the biggest red light area in Asia, organised by the sex workers organisation Durbar, in Kolkata. (IE photo: Partha Paul)
Elated at being able to organise the puja for the first time, the organisers have lined up a host of events during the next five days. (IE photo: Partha Paul)
Elated at being able to organise the puja for the first time, the organisers have lined up a host of events during the next five days. (IE photo: Partha Paul)
A Calcutta High Court directive of September allowed the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Samiti(DMSS) - a sex workers' collective - to hold its own Durga puja within Sonagachi. Some 3000 sex workers have pitched in to put up a small pandal with a six feet high goddess Durga clay idol brought from Kumartuli - the traditional potters' quarters here. (IE Photo: Partha Paul)  Ahead: Of pujas rooted in traditions
A Calcutta High Court directive of September allowed the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Samiti(DMSS) - a sex workers' collective - to hold its own Durga puja within Sonagachi. Some 3000 sex workers have pitched in to put up a small pandal with a six feet high goddess Durga clay idol brought from Kumartuli - the traditional potters' quarters here. (IE Photo: Partha Paul)

Ahead: Of pujas rooted in traditions
They provided platforms to Swadeshi "extremists" to wage war against the British Raj. They played a pivotal role in making Durga Puja Bengal's biggest festival. Now, when Pujas thrive on themes and when there is cut-throat competition for 'Sharad Samman', they have managed to retain their charm. (IE photo: Partha Paul)
They provided platforms to Swadeshi "extremists" to wage war against the British Raj. They played a pivotal role in making Durga Puja Bengal's biggest festival. Now, when Pujas thrive on themes and when there is cut-throat competition for 'Sharad Samman', they have managed to retain their charm. (IE photo: Partha Paul)
Baghbazar Sarbojanin Durgotsav and Simla Bayam Samity Sarbojanin Durga Puja witness footfall of more than 30 lakh each over four days of festivities. (IE Photo: partha Paul)
Baghbazar Sarbojanin Durgotsav and Simla Bayam Samity Sarbojanin Durga Puja witness footfall of more than 30 lakh each over four days of festivities. (IE Photo: partha Paul)
Both had direct involvement of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and made contributions to India's freedom struggle. They gave shelter to freedom fighters who were forced to go underground during the British raj. (IE Photo: Partha Paul)
Both had direct involvement of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and made contributions to India's freedom struggle. They gave shelter to freedom fighters who were forced to go underground during the British raj. (IE Photo: Partha Paul)
Baghbazar broke the fetters in 1919 when it organised the first Puja in the city to be organised by people communally. It was called 'baroyari' (organised by 12 friends) then. It ended the stranglehold of the feudal landlords over the festival. (IE Photo: Paartha Paul)
Baghbazar broke the fetters in 1919 when it organised the first Puja in the city to be organised by people communally. It was called 'baroyari' (organised by 12 friends) then. It ended the stranglehold of the feudal landlords over the festival. (IE Photo: Paartha Paul)
In 1930, when Durgacharan Bandyopadhyay, alder-man of Calcutta Municipal Corporation, became the Puja committee president, he began an exhibition in the backyard, or rather in the front yard of the Puja pandal. Subhas Chandra Bose was the Mayor of Calcutta and donated Rs 500. Later, in 1938-1939, Netaji himself became the Puja committee president. Governor of Orrisa Dr. SC Jamir (left) and Tarun Gogoi Chief Minister of Assam (right) Biswajit Deb, Advocate General of Mizoram (middle) during the inauguration of Entally Udayan Sangha puja in Kolkata. (IE Photo: Partha Paul)
In 1930, when Durgacharan Bandyopadhyay, alder-man of Calcutta Municipal Corporation, became the Puja committee president, he began an exhibition in the backyard, or rather in the front yard of the Puja pandal. Subhas Chandra Bose was the Mayor of Calcutta and donated Rs 500. Later, in 1938-1939, Netaji himself became the Puja committee president.
Governor of Orrisa Dr. SC Jamir (left) and Tarun Gogoi Chief Minister of Assam (right) Biswajit Deb, Advocate General of Mizoram (middle) during the inauguration of Entally Udayan Sangha puja in Kolkata. (IE Photo: Partha Paul)
"The exhibition was part of the economic movement against the King-Emperor. Only homemade goods were sold and people were encouraged to boycott everything from Britain. It has now become a common exhibition where almost every household items are put on display. But it still remains popular among pandal hoppers," Baghbazar Puja committee secretary Gautam Neogi told The Indian Express.Dr. SC Jamir and his wife next to him, Tarun Gogoi ad Biswajit Deb participate in the Durga Puja celebrations. (IE photo: Partha Paul)
"The exhibition was part of the economic movement against the King-Emperor. Only homemade goods were sold and people were encouraged to boycott everything from Britain. It has now become a common exhibition where almost every household items are put on display. But it still remains popular among pandal hoppers," Baghbazar Puja committee secretary Gautam Neogi told The Indian Express.
Dr. SC Jamir and his wife next to him, Tarun Gogoi ad Biswajit Deb participate in the Durga Puja celebrations. (IE photo: Partha Paul)
The Birashtami Utsav in the morning of Mahastami was started by Pulin Das, a renowned member of Anusilan Samity, who insisted every Indian youth needed to be taught the techniques of self-defence in an oppressive political regime.Durga Puja pandal of the Entally Udayan Sangha puja in central Kolkata is now open to devotees. (IE photo: Partha Paul)
The Birashtami Utsav in the morning of Mahastami was started by Pulin Das, a renowned member of Anusilan Samity, who insisted every Indian youth needed to be taught the techniques of self-defence in an oppressive political regime.
Durga Puja pandal of the Entally Udayan Sangha puja in central Kolkata is now open to devotees. (IE photo: Partha Paul)

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