Spring fest Set to Rock the Nation yet Again!

Come Spring and colleges from all over the country eagerly await the announcement of Spring fest, the annual Fest of Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (IIT KGP). What started as an intra-college fest in 1960, is today one of the year’s most awaited events throughout the Nation. In fact, the 2018 Spring fest is the 59th edition of the same. This year, the overall theme for the Fest is Tribal Treble- A Primeval Folklore. It will be held from the 26th to 28th of January.

For those who are new to Spring fest, must not mistake it for a tech-fest only. Events range from music, dance, dramatics, Literary, Food Fest, Film Fest and many others. All details regarding the events can be found on the official website.

Apart from the events, one of the main attractions each year is the guest performances by celebrities. Earlier, Spring fest has been graced by the presence of celebrities like Arman Malik, Vishal Shekhar, Dead by April and many more.

Special mention must be made of the able team that has worked round the clock to put together this festival of National repute. Preparations begin months before the culmination of the actual event. From planning the central theme and the events to locking in the final dates; from approaching sponsors to finalizing judges, from sending out invitations to colleges all over India to arranging accommodation wherever applicable; all have been efficiently undertaken by the Festival team. The sheer passion and dedication of the students towards their work and co-curricular activities are what has made Spring fest so popular over the years.

This year, Kolkata Bloggers would yet again collaborate with Spring fest for two different events- A Mighty Pen and India Calling. Both events are literary events which have a social inclination to it. While Mighty Pen is all about your views on the LGBT Community; India Calling revolves around the important question regarding directorial freedom in contemporary India. The judges from Kolkata Bloggers are eagerly waiting to see the rationale coupled with creativity in the presentations made by the students participating in these events.

Photo Courtesy: IIT Kharagpur

I wish like to wish the entire management team of Spring fest all the luck and success for pulling off yet another edition of this festival. Hoping to collaborate in future too.

Photo Courtesy: IIT Kharagpur

Experience the Gajan Festival in Central Kolkata

Photo: Sagnik Karmakar

Bengal is the home of many folk festivals like the Gajan Festival consisting of the Gajan Celebration, Neel Puja and Charak Puja. Celebrated by Hindus in rural Bengal and a couple of pockets in the metropolitan city of Kolkata, it takes place on the last two days of the Month of Chaitra (13-14th April).

It is impossible to determine when Gajan started. According to some historians, it started around during the Middle -Ages when the Buddhist monks took shelter in Bengal and converted into Hindus. With Buddhism came the rituals of severe penance and renouncing worldly pursuits and devote into spiritual work.

Photo: Sagnik Karmakar

Gajan started as “Dharmer Gajan” which later transformed to “Shiber Gajan”. Dharmathakur is generally worshiped by the scheduled casts. Rumours have it, that Dharmathakur originated from the Dharmaraj of Buddhism. Directly or indirectly, Gajan is linked to people related to agriculture- praying for the rains, better harvests and the fertility of the soil; Dharmathakur is considered to be the God of Fertility.

Mostly Shiva Devotees take part in this festival. During Charak, many devotees and farmers pierce their tongue with sharp needles and hang from wooden structures with sharp hooks piercing their backs to be respected by their landlords and the village alike. The so-called “Low Caste” would rise above his own level and be recognized as a representative of Lord Shiva.

Gajan

Photo: Sagnik Karmakar

Gajan is celebrated by the devotees signifying marriages of the male forces of Lord Shiva with Parvati. One way it signifies the union of the forces of the Sun and Earth. People believe that the festival will provide prosperity and eliminate sufferings and sorrow from the previous year.

Neel Puja

Every year on 13th of April, people celebrate “Neel Puja”. This Puja is done mainly by married women who fast the whole day and pour milk over the “Shiva Lingam”. This is done to please the Lord and get blessings for their husbands and children.

Charak Puja

Photo: Sagnik Karmakar

Charak Pujo occupies most of the routine of the Gajan Festival. On 14th April, the Charak tree is worshiped, and various acts are performed by Charak Sanyasis around and on the tree. A Charak Tree is a trunk of a tree without any roots or branches which is usually 30 to 40 feet in height. It is balanced by bamboos and is erected inside a ditch. The tree is believed to be the form of Ardhanarishwar ( the form of Shiva and Parvati) and is worshiped by the priests. Ropes are tied to the Charak tree on one end and the hooks on the other end. In the evening, the Sanyasis hang from the tree and move in a circular motion from a great height. They are said to be in a trance, and they throw ‘Prasads’ to the devotees. It is believed that these Sanyasis attempt to experience the pains of womanhood including that of childbirth.

Chatu Babu Latu Babu Bazar.

Photo: Sagnik Karmakar

After reading about Charak numerous times in different books and listening to it from my mother. I decided to visit Charak Mela at Chatu Babu Latu Babur Bazar in Central Kolkata. Situated in Central Kolkata near Central Avenue. The bazar is named after Bengal’s first entrepreneur-millionaire Ramdulal Dey’s prolific sons. According to some historians, Charak Mela started over here almost two centuries back. It’s one of the biggest and surviving Charak Mela in Kolkata. The Chatu Babu Latu Babu Charak is one of the safest charak. Over here piercings are not allowed, and the Sanyasis’ hang from the tree tied using clothes and ropes, not with hooks piercing through their back. On 15th April, the Sanyasis’ break their fast by having a Bhoj in the Chatu Babu Takhurbari.

Disclaimer: For those of you who are keen on photographing the experience like us, be careful to dress in shoes (not chappals) and jeans (no flowly patialas) cause you never know you might just have to climb a bamboo ladder which is interspersed with shock giving electrical light wires and bamboo steps which start shaking and doing a little jig after being tired of supporting weights on it constantly. Oh and If you do spot cats, do not try and trace their movement from one roof to the other. You might just end up breaking your leg or maybe other parts of the body trying to experiment its moves. But you can always say a ‘Hi’ to them.

Text and photographs by Sagnik Karmakar. Sagnik is an avid gamer, traveler and a professional photographer with concert photography being his specialization. He is very approachable and can be contacted here.