Winter Fairs in West Bengal

Winter fairs are an important part of Bengali cultural cum religious meet. The months of Poush and Magh fall in December and January, the winter-time in West Bengal. During winter, the climate of southern parts of West Bengal remains cool and pleasant, with almost no rain. That is why, this is the best time for fairs, called mela in Bengali in various districts in West Bengal. Uncountable small fairs are held in almost all parts of West Bengal at the peak of winter. In this article, we have listed 5 fairs that have special mention throughout the world for their cultural and religious importance.

1)Gangasagar Mela

Gangasagar Mela is the world’s second-largest congregation of mankind in the whole world after Kumbha Mela. The fair and the pilgrimage site is located on an island in the southernmost part of West Bengal, where the river Ganga meets the sea. Every year on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, the last day of Poush falling on 14th January, lakhs of pilgrims visit Gangasagar island to take a bath at the river-sea confluence. The pilgrims pray at Kapil Muni ashram on the island and a large fair is held for the visitors.

2)Poush Mela

Shantiniketan in Birbhum district is widely known for the residence of Rabindranath Tagore. It is also equally famous for seasonal festivals like the Poush Mela and Holi. Poush Mela is a cultural meet for all villagers around Shantiniketan where a huge fair is held every year. The practice was started by Rabindranath Tagore’s father, Devendranath Tagore to mark the harvest season. Starting from the 7th day of Poush and continuing for 3 days, this fair attracts visitors from all over Bengal and India.

3)Joydev Kenduli Mela

Joydev was a renowned poet from Bengal, who was born in Kenduli village of Birbhum district. An annual cultural fair is held every year in Kenduli, called Kenduli fair, starting from Makar Sankranti and continuing up to 3 days. The Kenduli fair is especially known for the largest congregation of bauls, a group of mystic minstrels. The baul songs with ektara, a musical instrument with one string attracts visitors from far cities and villages across the country.

4)Teesta Tea and Tourism Festival

This festival is celebrated in the northern parts of West Bengal in Darjeeling, hosted by West Bengal tourism. Darjeeling is renowned for its tea, having a unique flavour of its own. Tourists throng Darjeeling in late November or early December to take part in this festival, get accustomed to the music, dance and culture presented by the local tribes of Darjeeling hills.

5)Kolkata Book Fair

The international book fair in Kolkata is a non-trade book fair in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal. It is the largest non-trade fair in the world, where books are sold for public sale rather than wholesale. All small and big publishing companies, as well as international book publishers, turn up at Kolkata every winter in the latter half of January. Since its inception in 1976, the Kolkata book fair not only proved successful but also paved way for future book fairs and handicraft fairs across the whole country.

Written by – Himadri Paul

ROLE OF SCIENCES FOR PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT – TODAY AND TOMORROW

What exactly do peace and development refer to?

Peace in today’s world can very well be described as a sort of abstract utopian concept longed for, ie a common goal and state of rest. This is clearly contradicted and humiliated in today’s world with the ongoing thirst and hunger for power, territory, and capital. At the same time, development refers to a long-drawn process which can contribute towards creating growth, positive change, or simply an improvement in the physical, mental or social surroundings of any human being.

So now the crucial question which comes into mind is, “where exactly does science fit into this complex demographic?”. Science, whose nature is yet to be known and harnessed, its power unmatched, put into such a dangerous and volatile situation.

Limiting the capabilities of science to plainly its subjective attributes- physics, chemistry, biology etc. is an injustice to the core of the subject. Its scope includes the likes of social, economic, and environmental science, which are increasingly being incorporated into our daily lives and can be said to bring about tangible positive changes. For peace, science provides the greatest boon in today’s disease-stricken world in the form of medicines. Even in today’s highly sensitive virus-stricken environment, countries all over the world are able to share and discuss their individual discoveries, findings and hence contribute towards improving the world situation as a whole and henceforth try to bring about a state of rest and normalcy for all. Science furthermore opens up various new horizons for career opportunities and hence improves the employment conditions, further enabling stability to exist that can eventually contribute towards peace within a country or area. It also creates the environment needed for learning and education.

This is a beneficial effect because by improving education in a country, we improve the society for future generations. Hence, it can inculcate within them an early habit of staying in a state of peace and maintaining peace which will only be helpful in building society. Suppose I were to illustrate this argument further using an example. In that case, we can educate even five children who have been born and brought up in dire conditions; they might grow up and learn to sustain themselves by good means, in contrast to today’s scenario where many of the poverty-stricken, unemployed people, especially the youth is turning to crime or even war as seen in the northern parts of our very own country. These are the parts where the resources are so scarce and underdeveloped that the people have no choice but to try and survive of anything, desperate and needy for minimum sustenance.

Science hence if not directly, indirectly, can bring out a sure-shot habit of peace.

While at the same time, if we were to talk about the direct implications of science on bringing about peace, a prominent successful example necessary to include would be the current dealings and proceedings of the honest attempt to foster harmony between the war-stricken nations and people – the Israelis and the Palestinians.

The conflict between these two has been raging on since 1948 imply after the modern Jewish state was newly founded. It is not as though attempts haven’t been made to bring peace in these countries. on several occasions, there have been attempts to find common ground to arrive at a consensus to achieve peace and stability for peoples of both sides. These efforts even included endeavours to promote interaction, collaboration and peace-building between the two groups, but somehow always ended in hostility. There was no tangible change seen until 2002 when the IPSO, the Israeli Palestinian science organisation, was launched to bring together scientists from both sides to pursue joint projects.

The grants issued under the program require the consensus and partnership of both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Following its mission statement, the IPSO proposes to establish a model of infrastructure that promotes, creates and sustains development educations and, most importantly, the collaboration between the communities through the universal language of science using innovative projects and initiatives. Scientific research endeavours involving people working together as equal partners would produce practical results and would likewise engender personal trust and friendship between people living in the two communities. Hence improve the conditions required to attain common goals and further peace by enabling the parties to arrive at a common ground beneficial for growth and support for both.

Surprising too is the lack of awareness of institutions such as IPSO and its vision for promoting peace through collaborative interactions between Palestinian and Israeli scientists. The workings of the IPSO can be used as an important model to base future organisations and missions upon in such similar conflict-prone areas, which will eventually benefit from common associations applicable to both concerned parties with a common independent goal and indirect implication on peace.

If I was to talk about science and development, there is no doubt that these two factors go hand in hand. Without science, there can virtually be no development. In fact, one of the largest and effective strategies devised in the last century of sustainable development, which includes the idea of using resource judiciously, is the very component of earth and economic sciences.

Sustainable development in the past century has proven to be an advantageous strategy in terms of its terms for use and mission statements which include using only for our own needs and preserving enough for the coming generations for them to undergo development with exactly the same freedom present generations have been able to.

Furthermore, suppose we were to analyse the implications of the actions of ancient civilisations and colonies. They have constantly been developing themselves and their organisations using new techniques and methodology as the basis of trials and errors, which can be deduced as the first scientific experiments seen in modern civilisations. Whether it includes discoveries in the forms of new materials, technologies, etc. that have found practical application in various areas of production of economic goods that have become in common use by people, they have increased prosperity and made life easier.

This may have worked for them progressively and effectively, however recently, the norms and uses of the world with the increasing global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, increased risk of various climatic cataclysms, increased environmental pollution, declining resources of raw materials, arable land and clean water, the need to develop renewable sources of energy, electromobility, recycling have created the need to develop business processes according to the model of sustainable pro-ecological development and the green economy concept which are also constantly evolving. We can say that the two do go directly hand in hand.

If I were to compare the 3, science, peace and development, to an object, it would be to the branches of a tree called society. These three factors cannot grow and flourish in sanctity without the support of society. Furthermore, all contribute equally in some way or the other to the overall growth of the tree by bearing fruits etc. which implicates directly on society to maintain it economically and keep it standing, which is exactly the role science needs to fulfil in today’s changing world.

Written by – By Tanisha Rungta

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