Basanta Utsav Santiniketan

Basanta Utsav kicked off with the traditional rendering of Tagore’s Khol daar khol….
To be honest, I wasn’t present at the Utsav Prangon, but I was at a place very close to where the celebrations (or shall I say revelry and merry-making) were on…
I could clearly hear Rabi Thakurer soul-stirring song.
I decided not to be there simply because I wanted to harbor those memories of Basanta Utsav…those days in early Eighties when the Utsav was followed in a vastly different way, in a manner which was close to Tagore’s heart!
That spirit of Utsav has long faded away. That warmth of feeling, the sense of camaraderie, and the sense of solidarity are no longer there!
My heart bleeds!
Things have changed over the decades. Why should I go and feel the pain and anguish!!
Rather I’d stay away and cherish those sweet memories sitting at my brother-in-law’s place!
Smearing color on friends’ cheeks in my time entailed genuine feeling and bond of brotherhood and friendship. That spirit is gone. Alas!
Well, I could see from a distance the sea of humanity, could hear the sound and fury of the merry-making; ‘Culture-crazy’ Kolkatans have landed here to celebrate Dol…They’ll go back home and will bask in self-adulation saying that they attended Basanta Utsav!! Ha ha ..
What a ‘culture’!
Rabi Thakur must be turning in grave!!

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Kalor dokaan at Ratanpally

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Tagore with Gandhi

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As I strolled down the dusty road to Ratanpally, I reached the well-known Kalor Dokaan. Kalipada Dolui, popularly known as Kalo, was Gurudev’s cook. He also travelled to many places with Rabi Thakur.
It should have been a part of Santiniketan heritage. But the current VC, physicist Prof Dutta Gupta, just doesn’t give a damn to this.
Kalor dokaan’s appalling condition saddened me. “Madan-babu (Kalor chchele) ashen ekhon o. Tobey onar boyosh hoyechchey. Tai dokaan khultey deri hoy (Kalo’s son Madan-babu still comes here. But he’s ageing. He opens shop a little late), said Narayan, a rickshawala who sleeps at night here.
Kalor dokaan used to offer best alur chop and gugni earlier. But now you can get only ‘cha’ (tea), he said, his melancholy quite visible.
It was 6am. There’s hardly anybody around. Santiniketan was still asleep.
Kalor dokaan was closed.
But, Narayan opened the dokaan for us. We walked in. I was stunned to see the two photos: Gurudev with Mahatma Gandhi and the second one was the photo of Kalo (elegantly framed!) inside the dokaan.
But, what shocked me was the dokaan‘s ramshackle condition. Its interior evoked poignancy and pathos. Things lay scattered all over the floor. There’s soot all around. The wooden structure was almost obliterated by cobwebs.
Downcast, I paused and pondered.
Before leaving I put some bucks in Narayan’s hands. He wouldn’t take it.
I insisted. He then accepted.
But, I bow to his Goodness and BIG HEART.

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PHOTO: TATHAGATA BANERJEE

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