NOTE FROM THE SERIES EDITOR
by Dr. Sourav Banerjee
TMYS Review is a quarterly imprint of www.tellmeyourstory.biz (TMYS). The first issue came out in 2020 with the vision of popularising stories arising from personal experiences and academic research. Diverse themes covered under TMYS Review are conscious about documenting women's history of a generation because for every subject, every topic, women have a different story to tell which points towards all those aspects that the society as a whole and people individually must take note and respond to. The effort has been recognized by global thought leaders and universities with their generous participation and/or collaborations.
TMYS Review works on sparking gender sensitivity by engaging a community of emerging and established scholars/writers through creative writing & critical thinking. The primary audience for the forum are students, who are the future of this world, and other literary enthusiasts, who are constantly inspiring the world with their words.
The enthusiastic team of scholars and senior professors behind TMYS Review believes that the modern audience should not be dependent on institutional or official history only, but also be exposed to and involved with living history, so that they can evolve into better informed individuals - more empathetic, more creative and better decision-makers. TMYS makes a conscious and concerted attempt to engage scholars with the stories of the contemporary era because it believes that personal stories about a place or time are important contributors through which history can be recorded and even understood. TMYS Review is a rich compilation of poems, creative writings, fiction, non-fiction, and also academic writings on the theme of its projects, published quarterly.
By Dr. Sanchaiyata Majumdar
“No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive.”
One early winter day, I received an opportunity to head TMYS Review’s June 2022 Edition through Dr. Sourav Banerjee, Associate Professor and Series Editor of TMYS Review. Needless to say that such an opportunity seemed once in a lifetime. I was intrigued and exalted to know more about it. The quarterly theme for the project was Beliefs and Social Customs under the annual theme of Cultural Identity and Ideology.
We were fortunate to have Global South Colloquium, University of Victoria collaborate with us on this project.
Beliefs and Social Customs is a broader aspect when thought of. It can cover anything and everything under its paradigm. So as Project Head my first plan of action was to how should we go about the project, what should the content curation happen, on what topics, the sub-topics, and so on. I was fortunate to be assisted by Ms. Moumita Pal, Ms. Sourabhi Dutta Roy, and Ms. Pragnya Panda, three enthusiastic Project Assistants.
Culture Studies, as many may know, is an emerging yet essential stream of study in most universities. The best part of Culture Studies is that you need not have knowledge of any specific subject beforehand to study culture. Afterall, we all belong and exist within a culture. However, knowing that we have to set our sails towards beliefs and social customs, the team started researching on culture, its aspects, its nuances, its roots, its sub-roots, its belief system, and all that we could gather for designing our project. Hiccups were many! Culture being a sensitive yet essential component of existence should be dealt with caution, is precisely what we had in our minds. That is when I found the quote by Mahatma Gandhi on the desire for exclusivity of culture which may lead to the perishing of a culture. It made me think about culture and society from an altogether different point of view. I questioned myself, ‘Who am I?, ‘What is my identity?’, ‘What defines my existence?’…To all of these questions, there was only one answer. Your culture defines you! I was astonished that I am defined by the culture that bred me, the language system in which we exist is defined by our culture and most interestingly any culture is not and can never be a solo existence. Cultures across the globe merge and mingle to co-create newer cultures. It is so easy to speak ill of another’s culture yet not realize that all cultures have developed from the hard fact called humanity.
Three Drums of Shakti
Gayatri retrained as a therapist after a journalism career spanning 20 years and founded the mind body spirit practice Shamah | शम: She holds a Masters in English Literature from Mumbai university, PG Diploma in Journalism from St Xavier’s Institute of Communication, PG Diploma in Counselling Psychology from St Xavier’s Institute of Counselling Psychology, certificate in Buddhist Epistemology and Ethics from WCCLF, Pune, certificate in Indian culture and spirituality from SSSIHL, and is an ongoing student of the Nalanda PG Diploma Course 3, under the ageis of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Gayatri is a practitioner of vipassana as well as of the ngondrogar in the Vajrayana Kagyu tradition under the tutelage of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche via instructor Arne Schelling. Her short fiction has been longlisted for the Commonwealth Prize in 2017, appeared in the award-winning Out of Print journal, and has been part of Femina’s special light issue 2021. Her non-fiction has appeared in the Hindustan Times, Mint, India Today and other media in India. Her books include Who Me Poor (Bloomsbury India) Sit Your Self Down (Hachette India) and Anitya (Hachette India). Forthcoming titles include Devi and the Battle of Meghadhanush (Om books) and an untitled guide to emotions for children (Hachette India).
every cell in you
the drum roll of yourself
the rumbling sky of you
spears of rain
clatter like anklets
Masala chai in Brazil (By Invitation)
Poet: Shelly Bhoil
Shelly Bhoil is an Indian writer, scholar, editor and translator based in Brazil. Her latest publications include the English translation of Brazilian poet Virna Texiera´s My Doll and I and the first-ever Tibetan exile poetry anthology, Testimunho poético dos tibetanos no exílio, in Brazilian-Portuguese published by the University of São Paulo.
My kitchen is a little India
is an island
invaded by aromatic waves
of roasted coffee beans
riding on strums of guitar
played on my neighbour’s radio in Brazil
♫ a vida vem em ondas como um mar ♫
colonizing me from a t-t-tongue root tension to begin with
Poet: Akhila Mohan CG
Akhila Mohan CG is a former journalist, corporate communications professional, and writer based in Chennai. Her poems, short stories, and articles have been published in national dailies and platforms like AIFEST, YKA, TMYS, and Juggernaut. ‘Tamarind: Sweet and Sour Poems about Love, Loss, Longing, and Life,’ is her debut poetry collection published by Kitaab International, Singapore. She enjoys making book and literature-related videos and doing author interviews on her YouTube channel and social handles titled Akhila’s Book Nook. When she is not writing or working, she loves to spend her time reading books, gardening, swimming, or travelling.
While we sat on the sun-soaked sand
of a Chennai beach one evening,
playfully letting the sand grains slip off our fists
and watching the waves rumbling to and fro
washing pure our anklet-adorned immoral legs,
we mused about our uncertain tomorrow
when a fortune-teller, in her wrinkled body,
overlooking a crouched, oblivious couple,
faltered around us, carrying a parrot
peeping through a vertical metallic cage
on us, the parrots immured in this life of lie.
Mind the Gap
Author: Salmah Ahmed
Salmah Ahmed is a writer and accountant living in London. She has taken a creative writing course at the Faber Academy and is working on her debut novel.
“Mind the gap between the train and the platform.” Kem’s mind tuned in and out like radio frequency in bad weather. The announcement could have been in Russian for all that it meant. She was only conscious of one thing - a deafening, insidious numbness. Only the clamminess of her hands and the pounding of her heart reminded her that she was alive and breathing. As she trained unseeing eyes on the platform's yellow line, the serpentine railway tracks seemed to coil and uncoil sinuously and whisper, “Come to me, darling”.
Britain's railway tracks claim another victim. Kembang Goh, a young Asian woman, throws herself before the metropolitan line at 3:15 pm. Train services were disrupted and the young woman's remains were taken to The Portland Hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival. A notice has been put out to alert her next of kin. Kem visualized a tiny space on page four of The Daily Mirror as she moved closer to the yellow line following the call of the tracks. Would any of her fellow travellers recognize her photograph? Another inch closer to the edge and Kem thought, well, if I never recognize them then how would they recognize me? Kem shuffled her feet at the anonymity of her existence. The one person she could call her own in this whole world, her grandmother, nenek, had passed away that morning.
But Nenek wasn’t just her grandmother. Nenek was Nasi Lemek in the mornings and Curry Laksa and roti canai for dinner, the smell of vinegar mixed with lavender, discordant singing, soft skin, hands and fingers that moved and fidgeted constantly, tidying and fixing everything. Nenek was made up of all the puzzle pieces that assembled her sanity or the glue that bonded the shattered shards of her soul.
Author: Gayathri Sampath
Gayathri believes in fairies and magic and all things fantasy. She is a dreamer in private and a hard-nosed educationalist in public. A Mumbai girl to the core, she has a Ph.D. in management. In a past life, she was a senior management consultant advising Fortune 500 companies before switching tracks to academics a decade ago. She is currently working with one of the fastest-growing universities in India as a professor of strategy. A lifelong learner and avid reader, she relishes picking up challenges. She writes poetry to express her affection for her family and friends, plays for her children to perform in school, and the occasional story just for herself. She is working on her first novel, a fantasy fiction for young adults.
Father Dominic said, “I now pronounce you husband and wife.”
I couldn’t hold back my tears looking at my handsome son Ben and his beautiful wife Dora. Ashley, my daughter, pressed a tissue into my hands.
“Eve, my love,” said Adam, my husband of 38 years, holding my hand tight. I turned and gazed into Adam’s teary eyes. I knew he was also thinking about the fateful events that had happened 30 years ago.
30 years ago, Adam and I were working for National Geographic - me as a researcher and he as a cameraman. Our supposed Garden of Eden was a small apartment in Mumbai. Mumbai was supposed to herald a new beginning for us after 8 years of happiness and despair. But Mumbai could not repair our broken marriage. My inability to keep my womb and children safe, and Adam’s wish to adopt instead of trying for our biological child had driven a wedge, deep as the Grand Canyon, in our relationship. Three pregnancies resulting in one miscarriage, a still-born baby boy, and then the heart-breaking sudden and inexplicable death of week-old Angel had destroyed many things—my body and mind, our faith in God, and our unquestioning belief that Adam and Eve belonged together. Our relationship had deteriorated and, after a bitter fight, Adam had moved out.
On that fateful day, December 2, 1991, I had not seen Adam for over a month when I walked into the studio for a recording. I had just returned from a month-long trip to New York, after discussing my UNESCO-funded research project on the Jewish settlements in Kerala. As a part of the project, I was anchoring the first episode of a show on the history of the Jewish community in India. The episode dealt with the discovery of an 800-year-old artefact in the ruins of the Kadavumbhagam Mattancherry Synagogue, one of the oldest synagogues in India. It was one of the oldest Jewish artefacts found in India and had generated a lot of excitement amongst historians both in Israel and India. The Archaeological Society of India had invited Professor Mariam Gadot, a renowned Israeli Indologist working with Trinity College, Dublin, to examine the amulet. Prof. Gadot's special area of interest was small artefacts - urns, bowls, and talismans. She had submitted her report to the government last month and had agreed to appear on our show during her visit to India. Her report had attracted a lot of publicity and the studio was ecstatic that she had chosen our show to first discuss her findings.
Facts and Fallacies
Author: Insha Faridoon
Insha Faridoon believes in making the mundane lively with her imagination and spirit. She has just completed 12th grade from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and will be an undergraduate student of Media Studies at the University of British Columbia in the upcoming fall session. She dreams for the world to know her more as a writer and author. She has written several well received short stories, poems, and travelogues. Her writing is vivid and observational. For her, writing is about _immortalising a moment through a combination of words. A cat lover at heart, one can often find her curled up in a corner, reading, listening to music, or lost in a world of her own.
Indian summers are not very kind. The air stands still, without much movement, and the sun beats down on the tall buildings as if they had personally offended it. Many people prefer to stay inside, asleep with their air conditioners on, basking in the comfortable laziness that accompanies summer. That is only if they can afford it. Others still must venture out into the cruel heat to earn a living.
One such unfortunate man was Amaan, who was returning home after a long day at work. A clerk at a small firm situated at the heart of Mumbai, commuting was not an easy task for him. This was obvious by the way he stood at the doorway of the local train with one foot precariously dangling out in the air, a dangerous act that he had grown used to over the past ten years. Such hardships seemed pale in front of the life he had led in the remote village where he once lived. The fact that he had the means and freedom to make money and support his family was solace enough for him.
Walking into his tiny, but comfortable apartment, he was greeted by his wife, Zoya. He offered her a weary smile, puzzled when she did not return it. Her face was clouded with worry.
“What’s the matter?” he asked, while setting down his tiffinbox and office bag on the side table.
“Sana was sent home early from school. Apparently, she had a terribly high fever and fainted during her class.” she said, absentmindedly wringing her hands. “After taking medicine she fell asleep, but her fever is still as fervent. I don’t know what to do.”
Amaan’s face now mirrored that of his wife’s. He glanced into the bedroom that they all shared. Sana was lying on the bed, eyes closed and face flushed. A wet rag lay on her forehead, slowly slipping down. Amaan hurried to her side and dipped the rag in a bowl of cool water laying by the bed. He placed the rag back onto her face, a feeble attempt to soothe her pain.
He sighed worriedly, “I have told you a million times to not let the kids play in the garden at night. I am sure it is the work of the Balaa, the malicious spirits that hang on trees at night. Young kids, like Sana and Namra, are the easiest ones to prey on.” Born and bred in the countryside, Amaan was a firm believer in the existence of spirits, ghosts, and other fantastical creatures.
Bhavachakra- The Cycle of Rebecoming
Author: Haimanti Bagchi
Author Intro: Haimanti Bagchi is a communication trainer and a business storyteller. She has participated in various anthologies and has been a part of an anthology by TMYS “Disobedient Girls”. She was the winner of the National Poetry Contest by Namya Magazine and received a special mention for her short story from Shades Publishing house. She is a free spirit, caught in a world full of complexities, dealing with the daily toil to keep calm while dealing with issues internally and externally, she keeps on travelling to let go of her free spirit and works for animal rights to keep herself aligned with Mother Nature. She rants, writes, and paints to put herself out there. She sees objects and situations through her translucent perception of reality.
She silently kept staring at the home testing kit. A minute seemed like an hour. The wait for the result was never-ending. She sat on the toilet seat, with the test kit in her shaky hands. She had never felt so unstable before. Even the messy washroom, and open cabinets on the opposite wall, could not distract what was going on in her mind. She kept staring. Finally, here it was. A revelation, which dug deep into her eyes, pierced the deepest memories, and it started raining. The rain outside was drenching her just washed clothes drying on the terrace. The rain inside drenched her insecurities.
Aarti took the end of her grey georgette dupatta and wiped her tears. She got up and started to put everything in place; the toothpaste in the cabinet, Raj’s shaving kit in the next drawer. She wiped the moist floor and wiped the condensed mirror. Rajkumar Singh, her husband had just left for work from their rented house in the small town of Haldwani, in Uttarakhand. This one-storey house was her world. She had designed a terrace garden, overlooking the beautiful snow-clad mountains in the background and was currently working on her small kitchen garden in the backyard on Sunday mornings. Besides, she taught social sciences at a nearby school.
Aarti took her cell phone and dialled one of her colleagues. “Madhu, it is positive.”
“Hail to the goddess! Aarti, I am so happy for you, my dear. Did you tell Raj?” Madhu asked enthusiastically.
“Madhu, not yet. There is a problem.”
“I feel no excitement. In fact, I am scared, the anxiety is killing me. If it all happens again, I would not be in a state to handle that entire trauma again!”
“Listen, this time, you are not going through anything like that again. Now get ready otherwise, you would be late for school. I will pick you up from the chowk, ok!”
Aarti turned on the radio and went for a quick shower. As she entered for a shower, the radio tuned in to a song she had ignored for the last five years. She hated the memories attached to this song. The last time she heard it, she was going through a rough phase in her life. The song also depicted the darkest phase of her life. She closed her eyes, as the tears merged with the water. “I don’t want to go through all that again.”
The Wanderers and the Screamer
Author: Vijayluxmi Bose
Vijayluxmi Bose has an M.S. in Communication Studies from Emerson College, Boston, USA and taught at the AJK Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia in the early 80s. She gave up teaching in 1999 and consulted with the World Health Organization (Regional Office for South Asia) and also did a stint with UNESCO, HQ (Paris). She is a health researcher and a Salzburg Fellow who has drafted the Regional Communication and Advocacy Strategy on Birth Defects Prevention (2014). She has worked at the Public Health Foundation of India and at the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (India-USA). She now leads Knowledge Management for BUDS, New Delhi in a project funded by the Johns Hopkins University, IMCHI. Most of her publications are in public health and she is just completed a series of short stories called ‘Bhauwala Beckons’.
Shanti remembered walking down the village path ‒ head covered by her red and gold spangled sari, eyes cast down demurely, her inner being a turmoil of confusion. She had been a pretty village girl in those far-off days, fair- complexioned with lustrous black hair. The rough village path was a letdown compared to the bustling town they had crossed in a rickety vehicle, crammed in with strangers and a small goat that had nibbled at the end of her sari! The passengers had all got off at the edge of the town, at the Shanty Colony. Shanti hoped this was their stop but the vehicle had gone on for what seemed a long time before it jolted and bumped down a rough path and stopped at the edge of a dense patch of trees. Without a word, the three taciturn men who had accompanied her jumped down and walked into the forest. Her husband turned back, saw her hesitate, and walked back to help her down. That was many years ago. Today, Shanti’s sliver of a mirror showed her weary features, her tangled hair, and lips that hadn’t smiled for a long time.
Shanti hated this tiny ramshackle hut. She was isolated, cut off by this big patch of dense forest from the tiny village beyond. Hardly anyone came here. Who would want to visit a crazy woman looked after by a half-crazy one, anyway?
Shanti had grown up in a small village high up in the Himalayas. They were poor but had managed by farming a small patch of land and her father’s job as a cook at the headman’s home. Her life changed after her father was fired. Reason cited was excessive and irresponsible drinking which caused trouble at work. He sold off the family land to pay his debts. The constant bickering made Shanti’s childhood unbearable. She was thrown out of school; she hardly attended any class. Shanti couldn’t bear the sneers and titters of her peers nor the homilies she received from sanctimonious village women. The tiny family lived in isolation and in conflict.
When Shanti was almost nineteen years old the family received a marriage proposal from one of her father’s cronies’ who came visiting from Dehradun city, where he claimed to have a flourishing business. Her would-be father-in-law had approved of Shanti’s looks and didn’t ask too many questions. Neither did he ask for dowry. There was none to give, anyway. So, a few weeks later, dressed in her mother’s sari, Shanti was married to a rather pale and rake-thin youth who didn’t say a word. Not that Shanti cared. He was her ticket to get out of her claustrophobic home, and that was all she wanted.
Superstitions in the Era of Digitalization
Author: Tishya Majumder
Author’s Intro: Tishya Majumder is a Ph.D. Researcher in the Department of English, Raiganj University, India. She has received the University Silver Medal for securing the second position in B.A. and the University Gold Medal for securing the first position in M.A. in English Literature from the University of North Bengal. Some of her publications include ‘The Aquatic Wrath - Portrayal of Flood in Indian Cinema’ (TMYS Review), ‘Captivity’ (The Criterion: An International Journal in English), ‘Phoenix’ (Ardour: An Anthology), and many more. She is a verified Citizen Historian under The 1947 Partition Archive. Being an author, she has published poems and short stories in various journals and anthologies. She has received the Certificate of Appreciation issued by TMYS Review in collaboration with Environmental Humanities Center, Amsterdam; and the Certificate of Excellence issued by TMYS Review in collaboration with Oxford University Press for being the winning contributor for submissions under the annual theme of Migration, Displacement, and Resettlement.
Superstition, a constructed phenomenon, is largely believed in and practiced even in the digital era. In spite of the fact that the digitalization of the world motivates people to stand on the foundation of rationality and critical analysis, superstitions have found a way to make a powerful place in the digital space, getting a strong grip over its users. Globally, people follow almost the same types of patterns when it comes to digital superstitions; and hence, make room for illogical beliefs and practices which end up directing and controlling their digital experiences. The paper aims to analyze the various types of superstitions prevalent in the digital sphere and their impact on the lives of people.
Keywords: Superstition, Digitalization, People, Beliefs, Practices
Encyclopedia of Britannica (2008) defines superstition as "A belief, half-belief, or practice for which there appears to be no rational substance. Those who use the term imply that they have certain knowledge or superior evidence for their own scientific, philosophical, or religious convictions. An ambiguous word, it probably cannot be used except subjectively. With this qualification in mind, superstitions may be classified roughly as religious, cultural, and personal". Again, as pointed out in ‘Superstitions: A Culturally Transmitted Human Behavior’, superstition is a “… myth and spurious activity, or an invalid absurd narration, and legend, or a half-belief, or practice without any rational thought” (cited in Mandal 66). Hence, superstition is a constructed phenomenon, mostly unsubstantiated, and has a strong hold over people who have fixed their belief systems and behavioural patterns on it. Dependent on culture, religion, and personal mindset, it varies from place to place; but as a whole, it “is a global issue not bound to a specific era and society” (Rabiei et al., 75). Passed down from one generation to another and practiced on a regular basis, superstitious acts prevent people from embracing enlightenment and freedom.
Some of the most common superstitious beliefs and practices include knocking on the wood to keep away bad luck, considering black cats to be a symbol of misfortune, crossing one finger over another to bring good luck, believing that you will remain single if your feet come under the broom while cleaning, making a wish on a fallen eyelash, believing that broken mirrors cause bad luck, associating itchy palms with the gain or loss of money, avoiding trimming nails or hair on certain days to wave off bad luck, not consuming non-vegetarian food items on certain days, using lemons and chillies to keep off evil and so on.
With the advancements made in the digital and technological sphere, especially in the twenty-first century, the world has deeply dived into the habit of scrutinizing and analyzing most things before taking further steps. In fact, with the launch of smartphones, social media, apps, websites, video-sharing platforms, and so on, information about every possible object and situation is just a click away. The digitalization of the world has propelled people to change their lifestyles, do away with old practices and form new habits. However, superstitions have found a way to seep into the digital space, getting a strong hold over its users. People from different parts of the world follow almost the same kind of practices when it comes to digital superstition and it can be seen as a new wave of customs taking over the world.
Samayita, the Healer: Overlapping Territories of Cultural Identity, History, and Motherhood
Author: Dr. Antara Mukherjee
An Assistant Professor of English, Dr. Antara Mukherjee has been teaching for sixteen years to under and post-graduate students in West Bengal, India. Specialized in Post 1950s British literature, Dr. Mukherjee has been invited to deliver talks and contribute papers to different journals and books; for example, She has published three comprehensive articles, two photo essays, and one Preface in Books in Bengali section of an open access multilingual discovery tool, www.frenchbooksonindia.wordpress.com, of The University of Liverpool; her research interests vary from cultural studies, literary theories, history and heritage of European Settlements along the banks of River Ganges in South Bengal. She has been the External Reader of dissertations “Generating Community Involvement in Built Heritage Conservation”, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary in 2019. As a member of the Board of Reviewers of Postcolonial Intervention and Literary Oracle, She has completed her stint as Lead Honorary Researcher in the AHRC-ICHR funded Hugli River of Cultures Pilot Project. An Editor of 3 books, Dr. Mukherjee is currently working as the Honorary Research Head of Implementation Action Team, an AHRC project, to make impactful changes to the heritage of the Hugli riverside towns and is also the India lead of INTACH Hooghly Chapter on British Council Global Patch Work Project 2022.
The essay focuses on a Docudrama entitled Samayita, the Healer (2020) which interweaves culture, history, and intangible heritage of Chandernagore, Jagadhatri Puja, with a fictional account of a Mother, telling the story of an annual festival from her hometown to her daughters. The essay seeks to argue how through a digital medium, cultural practices, heritage, and identities of a place could help sensitize awareness of an unknown locale and its culture to a global audience and thereby could serve as an effective instrument of dissemination of cultural knowledge for generations to come. In a state like West Bengal where the centre stage of celebration is generally enjoyed by Durga Puja, awareness of the rich history centering Goddess Jagadhatri has been largely wanting. Hence Samayita is an effective digital tool that makes the global audience aware of the beliefs, social customs, and ritualistic practices related to the festival of Goddess Jagadhatri. Moreover, the fictional account gives the docudrama an added edge, for it brings in an element of hope of survival despite tragic episodes in life.
Keywords: Chandernagore, Jagadhatri Puja, Mythical thread, Memory narrative, Intangible cultural heritage.
To migrants and localities alike, Chandernagore, an erstwhile French trading post on the western bank of river Ganges in Hooghly district of West Bengal, India, is primarily known for its annual festival, Jagadhatri Puja. More than Durga Puja, Bengali’s greatest festival, Chandernagorians wait for the resurgence of Goddess Jagadhatri. As an intangible cultural heritage of the town, Jagadhatri Puja, encompasses unique cultural practices, beliefs, and social customs which are hardly known to people even in other parts of West Bengal and are practically unknown within India and abroad. Since digital media have become a playful and creative means of bringing heritage closer in today’s world, especially through films, Samayita, the Healer (2020), a docudrama on Jagadhatri Puja, was conceived for documenting and disseminating knowledge of this intangible cultural heritages and thereby ensuring the safeguarding of the same at intracultural and intercultural levels. In Samayita, the Healer history and myth are wrapped up within a story of a Mother and her girls so that the historical and mythical threads of the documentary could be toasted with a story element; this not only made the narrative dramatic but also helped lessen the monotony of conventional documentaries. Thus, mixing historically significant ritualistic practices and fiction, a texture of dream and delirium was woven, where the Divine Mother coalesces with the humane mother in a braided structure, often intercepted by the diverse narratives of the grand celebration in Chandernagore. Thus, the two opposite threads of documentary and drama are conjoined by the overlapping territories of cultural identity, history, and motherhood.
The celebration of the mythological Mother marks the resurrection of Goddess Durga as Mother Jagadhatri. Incidentally, both the festivals start on Astami Tithi and end on Dashami Tithi as decided by the Luni Solar Hindu calendar and share the same spirit of celebration. But since the worship of Mother Jagadhatri is not so popular within West Bengal and is practically unknown to people outside West Bengal, in India, and abroad, the docudrama begins with the arrival of Mother Jagadhatri on her earthly abode in Chandernagore, a month after Mother Durga has returned to her celestial abode. Thus, the time frame which the docudrama insists on is the post-Durga Puja phase, when the Divine Mother takes another form and resurrects herself as Ma Jagadhatri. Ma Durga, the destroyer of evil, comes back in a new avatar, Ma Jagadhatri, the healer of the broken world. Incidentally, Ma Jagadhatri is worshipped as a deity, sitting over a lion and filling the world with light. Sankha (conch), Chakra (ring), and Dhanurban (bow and arrow) lay in her hands. At the outset of the docudrama, the mythological narrative of resurrection of Mother Jagadhatri is shown through the black and white silhouette of images. Interestingly enough, the mythological narrative of the documentary is well balanced by the memory narrative of the drama; the two narratives are inextricably linked by the Narrator’s insistence that mothers never die, they continue to exist in the memory lanes of their children. Thus memory offers the catalectic plane through which the story of Rimi, Nidhi, and their Mother exists as co-narrative and not as a content of the mythological narrative. The point that is driven home is Jagadhatri Puja and its paraphernalia facilitate the union of the immortal with that of the mortal and this union is cinematically represented by the memory of the mother which ultimately transcends personal loss into a general awareness of the omnipresence of divine energy, powerful enough to sustain daughters in a motherless world.
Panel Discussions under the Project
The Consolidated Link: all panel discussions can be accessed here
Superstitions in the Tradition and Practices of Communities
Project Assistant and Author: Moumita Pal
Co-author: Sumana Ghosh
Moumita Pal is a proactive learner and scholar of English literature who hails from Bankura, West Bengal, India. She has completed her postgraduation in 2019 from Bankura University and has qualified UGC NET with JRF in June 2020. She has publications in various National and International Journals of repute like IJCRT, Literary Herald, Appropriations, Creative Flight and Anthology The Research etc. Some of her areas of interest include Environmentalism, Psychology, Gender and woman studies and Indian writing in English.
Sumana Ghosh is currently graduating in English Literature from Rani Birla College, Kolkata. She has always been an avid reader and a literature enthusiast. She is especially fond of authors like Arthur Canon Doyle, Simone de Beauvoir, Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, Ruskin Bond, Harold Bloom, Charles Dickens, Satyajit Ray and Rabindranath Tagore. John Keats is her favourite poet. Her areas of interest in academics include Literature of the Romantic and the Victorian Period, Indian Literature in English, Gothic Literature and Feminist Literature. She is also passionate about public speaking, writing poems and journaling.
“Culture is the arts elevated to a set of beliefs.”
Although there is no single definition for superstition, it mainly refers to a unique set of cultural beliefs, ideals and practices allegedly based upon a faulty understanding of nature and causality, i.e. beliefs not founded on scientific judgements. In a world increasingly dominated by science, billions of people across the world still believe in the unbelievable and often defy scientific wisdom. Traces of superstitions can be detected in the fibres of every society and its culture. However, disparity exists in different cultures according to their beliefs, moral values, old customs and religious backgrounds which shape one’s cultural identity. In fact, culture, religion and customs are steadfastly intertwined with superstitions in many visible, latent, and undefined ways. Most of us know that these beliefs are irrational but we still abide by them. Why do we do it? What are some mechanisms that explain these irrational beliefs? Or, what is the role of these superstitious beliefs and practices to mould one's cultural identity and how does it affect one’s ideology?
To find the answers and understand the complicated dimensions of Cultural Identity & Ideology from the perspective of Beliefs & Social Customs, TMYS Review June 2022 thought of taking this phenomenon, "Superstitions in the Tradition and Practices of Communities" as one of the subthemes. Five-panel discussions were conducted, centering around pertinent topics focusing on this particular sub-theme. Eminent resource persons were invited to share their views on how the superstitions in the tradition and practices residing worldwide in different communities have been influencing their cultural identity and ideology through the ages. The panelists presented a plethora of thought-provoking insights through their pervasive study, research experience, deep understanding and expertise.
Festivities and Ritualistic Practices
Author & Project Assistant: Pragnya Panda
Pragnya is a teacher and research enthusiast. She has completed her Bachelor’s degree in English from Rani Birla Girl’s College, affiliated with the University of Calcutta and her Master’s in the same from The University of Calcutta. Her areas of specialization are American Literature, Modern European Literature, Dalit Literature, and Literature during the modern and postmodern times. Her areas of interest are literature in the time of post-world war, the Jewish holocaust, Partition literature, and literature based on the post-apocalyptic world. Currently, she works as a creative writing mentor to children. She has authored a few papers, she also writes stories and articles for websites, and wishes to write a book one day.
“The greatness of a culture can be found in its festivals.”
Across cultures, religion plays a dominant role in shaping identities. Human beings being social creatures are inherently known to exist in groups. In order to exercise this attribute of coexistence and feel a sense of solidarity, humans are known to identify themselves through religion. One of the major aspects of religion is ritualistic practices. Each religion has its own set of customs and beliefs that defines them. These ritualistic practices shape the thinking and response of communities towards various social and personal events. The festivals bring joy and add cultural flavour. They also end up going beyond the realm of identity and pleasure by enforcing discrimination, violence and causing a threat to the environment.
TMYS Review June 2022 focussed on "Beliefs & Social Customs" shaping "Cultural Identity & Ideology", took up "Festivities and Ritualistic Practices" as one of the sub-themes to hold panel discussions for bringing to light many interesting questions and issues. Five-panel discussions were conducted, which centered around pertinent topics revolving around the sub-theme. The panelists shared insightful findings from their study, experience, and expertise.
Sports and Recreation
Author & Project Assistant: Sourabhi Dutta Roy
Sourabhi is an avid reader, thinker, music fanatic & a dreamer. She is currently pursuing B.A. Honours in English from Calcutta University. She has also worked for Tell Me Your Story (TMYS) as a Project Assistant for the TMYS Review, June 2022 and as a Project Lead for the Stories of India, Season 3. Her prime interests lie in and vary from Henrik Ibsen, Eliot’s Criticism and Modernism to Popular Fiction, Children’s Literature and Fairytales. In her free time, she is either always obsessing over a fictional character or baking a cake!
“You don’t create culture with signs and slogans. You create culture with people and leadership.”
Sports bring people together and transcend all cultures and beliefs. When one’s country is on the field, does it matter which religion one follows or which caste you come from? All faith and prayers lie on that one flag: the emblem of hope above all. Along with promoting a culture of fitness, sports also abolish social differences; promotes community relations and healthy socialization. Hence, TMYS Review June 2022 chose Sports & Recreation as one of the sub-themes to understand how Beliefs & Social Customs shape Cultural Identity & Ideology. Six panel discussions were conducted on topics relevant to the sub-theme, with experts from various fields of sports, having extensive research experience and possessing an advanced understanding of how sports and recreation in a larger context impact beliefs, promote customs, affect identities and contribute to the culture of a country.
‘Culture, Tradition and Sports’ was the first topic in the series of panel discussions on the above-mentioned sub-theme, and it brought to light the role of sports in crafting modern culture and changing traditions; mainstream versus (what is called) the regional sports. This also touched upon how media coverage affects the inter-team and intra-team dynamics in sports. Antonio Gramsci’s theory of cultural hegemony came up later into the discussion as Professor David Rowe explained how Gramsci’s theory has been a foundational tool in the sociology of sport, given its utility in illuminating the processes by which dominant ideas are re-produced and transitioned into the realm of culture and traditions. Professor Kausik Bandyopadhyay brought into context the political implications of sports in crafting modern culture.