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Durga in No Man’s Land: Kolkata pandal sheds light on NRC, migrant crisis

Barisha Club Pandal has a statue of a mother and her four children

A Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata, West Bengal sheds light on the plight of those excluded from the National Register of Citizens. South Kolkata’s Barisha Club has come up with the theme ‘Bhager Maa’ (Partition of the Mother) for this year’s Durga Puja pandal to focus on the theme of the National Register of Citizens and the hardships of migrants. The pandal depicting the migrant crisis last year has become a major attraction in the city.

This year the pandal is divided into two parts. Where the left side depicts Bangladesh, the right side represents the Indian border. Between the two sides, in No Man’s Land, stands an idol of a woman carrying an idol of Goddess Durga. Surrounded by her four children, the woman keeps refugee families in detention camps. She is sitting inside a truck, with all her worldly belongings scattered around her. Dusty paintings, colorful saris on the floor and voter ID cards hanging from the ceiling form the backdrop of the establishment, which aims to highlight people’s fear over the loss of citizenship.

Rintu Das said, “Losing citizenship is like an existential crisis. Partition in Bengal and its human tragedy cannot be forgotten. I have tried to recreate that feeling of loss, when people re-create everything. Afraid of losing.” Pooja’s architect told telegraph india.

The final National Register of Citizens or NRC – a list aimed at identifying legal residents and weeding out illegal migrants from Assam – left out more than 19 lakh of the state’s 3.3 crore applicants in 2019, creating a huge political row. Hui. Coupled with the Citizenship Amendment Act, it triggered protests across the country that were only subsided by the outbreak of the COVID pandemic.

Last year Barisha Club used the statue migrant mother The goddess morphed to attract the attention of migrants who were forced to walk hundreds of kilometers as the country went into a coronavirus-induced lockdown.

Shri Das said at that time that the migrant mother represents the goddess. He said, “Devi is the woman who faced the scorching sun and hunger and poverty with her children… I was overwhelmed by the indomitable spirit of the women walking home with the children. In my mind, she embodied the goddess ,” They said.

This year, the sculpture was created by Debayan Pramanik, Pratap Majumdar and Sumit Biswas. The entire pandal was decorated in monochromatic colors to present an atmosphere of gloom.

“Is the mother going to the detention camp? What is the future of countless other similar families? I am leaving this question to the audience,” Mr. Das said.

Durga Puja pandals in Kolkata often depict current socio-economic and political issues. In north Kolkata, the setting up of a huge pandal pays tribute to the struggle of farmers to protest against agricultural laws for almost a year.

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