Archive for the 'mela' Category


Dol in the outskirts of Santiniketan


Santiniketan is well know for it’s peculiar way of celebrating the festival of Dol, elsewhere know as Holi.


This year, we’ve decided to avoid the madly crowd which invades the lanes of the University created by Rabindranath Tagore and welcome the spring in the outskirts of the once know as the “Abode of Peace”.


Here no rush no harm.


Just the sound of the drum and colorful clouds of abir powder!


Each pigment has a special significance. Green for harmony, orange for optimism, blue for vitality, red for joy and love.








Suchana’s First ITE Mela


In the previous post, I wrote that I’ll have to find a balance between the good and the bad… Let’s start with the good!


Since 2004, Suchana has been focusing on education for the most excluded people: the adivasi. They have been running a full-time children’s Education Resource Centre as well as a drop-in centre where children can come to play and learn. Since a couple of years, they have taken one step forward and – successfully – implemented ITE, Integrated approach to Technology in Education with the support of The Tata Trust.


“There is one kind of charity common enough among us… It is that patchwork philanthropy which clothes the ragged, feeds the poor, and heals the sick. I am far from decrying the noble spirit which seeks to help a poor or suffering fellow being. [However] what advances a nation or a community is not so much to prop up its weakest and most helpless members, but to lift up the best and the most gifted, so as to make them of the greatest service to the country.” Jamsetji Tata, 1839-1904, Founder of the Tata group.


On January 29th, they held the very first ITE mela inviting teachers and students from every school around as well as institutions of Kolkata.


7 Government Schools participated and Suchana welcomed a total of  329 happy visitors.



What does Integrated Technology in Education really stands for?


As defined by the Tata Trusts’ ITE program, “ITE is a pedagogic framework for integrating technology in teaching and learning and provides children an opportunity to authenticate their learning at school using technology, while imparting crucial technological skills.”


“Rather than creating an additional layer in the classroom, technology is embedded in the teachers’ lesson plans and pedagogy. The teacher designs learning activities and students use technology to construct their own learning.”


 “Technology is used as a tool, rather than as an end itself.”


But Suchana’s project was more ambitious than offer ITE in their resource center. They gave the students – 230 children from classes VI to IX – the opportunity to bring their technology skills into the villages through the “community projects”.


Accompanied by a teacher, groups of students went to meet their neighbours and elders and questioned them on different topics: environment, education, work, lifestyle, festivals & other traditions. During the ITE mela, all the videos they’ve realised – wrote, shoot, edited – were shown through the day.










Cell phones, laptops, internet, etc. … Technology is everywhere, even where education does not go.


To give the new generation the ability of making a good use of it is esential and Suchana is doing a wonderful job at it.


Want to help? Want to know more?


Suchana can help introduce the ITE concept into your school or organisation.





The Good, the Ugly, the Bad

Five years ago, when I’ve started this blog, I was still mesmerized with Santiniketan’s natural beauty and stillness. My very own Santitown! That place where I wanted to drop my bags and settle for a while. I was still under the spell of my first Poush Mela, this picturesque event, a real time travel. I wanted to share this feeling with all. 
Five years later, just after another Poush Mela, I almost put an end to it and to my stay in Santiniketan. It’s been hard to see all the changes happening around for the sake of “progress” and “development”. Visitors kept coming. Not those nature and poetry’s lovers looking for peace and a piece of history anymore. Just packs of people unable to appreciate the real beauty of the place and to respect the past, the present nor the future of amader Santiniketan. After months of music, plastic and traffic, I got sick. Sick of it all. I did not want to become this bitter person who’ll denounce it all.
L1160871And one day, going back home crossing a familiar santali village, the magic worked once again. On the side of the road – which was still a mud road a couple of years back – I saw men building one of those huge hand-made wicker basket where they’ll keep the village’s crop. I’ve stopped for a few minutes and admired this amazing work, this beautiful craft that managed to survive to this day.

L1160876Then I knew. I still had a lot to share. The good and the bad. I’ll have to find a balance. For my sake and for Santitown’s sake. I won’t keep the beauty for myself but I won’t pretend I don’t see what going wrong.

L1170125Like those so-called “picnics” that have invaded the paddy fields, the river sides and our daily lives. Another excuse to put loud music from 8 am until late afternoon. The food will basically the same that is served at home but often prepared by hired cooks and in less hygienic conditions. The meals will be served in polystyrene plates that will be thrown a bit further along the road for the wind to blow and cows to feed.

L1170127The place will be left soiled and barren. Amader Santiniketan. The Poet’s abode of peace, spoiled for the rest of us.







Happy 2016 from Santitown

160104 Please come again


Shame on Santi (II)


And life goes on.


During this festive and busy time, shopkeepers, craftmen and other small businesses couldn’t stay idle. Their request to be spared until the end of the Poush Mela being denied, they had to find a way to make a living despite the unfair circumstances.


So they came back to that same spot they’ve been occupying for days, months or even years.


They came back taking a huge risk: the one to see all their belongings being seized, as the local police threatened them.


Will the road be widened? Will new shops be built? What is the plan?


Nothing has been officially announced yet but the it seems that those demolitions are just the tip of the iceberg that will definitely bury The Poet’s Abode of Peace deep into the past.



Shame on Santi

L1160285Who ever has visited Santiniketan over the last few days, could witness a very sad face of Tagore’s abode of peace.

L1160315A few days back, the public artillery showed up with one objective: chase out the street vendors and put down any unauthorized shop whatsoever.

L1160290What was the excuse given? Mo-der-ni-za-tion. Bolpur-Santiniketan-Prantik will get a widen main road to welcome the hundreds of SUV which cross town at full speed regardless of traffic rules, other vehicles or pedestrians, especially on week-ends – when the famous sonibarer haat is held – and during holidays. And they still call it a “perfect rural getaway”, ironic!

L1160288The fact that this happened just a week away from Santiniketan’s most expected event – the Poush Mela which attracts, every year, thousand of visitors – makes it even more tragic. The shop keepers, used to the sudden crowd, prepared themselves by stocking more goods. They’ve been given no more than a 3 day notice to pack everything up and flee. Where they’ll keep their equipment and merchandise, that is up to them. What they will become in the upcoming days and weeks also.


L1160320Those pictures were taken in Prantik, my own house’s closest market place. Prantik has really nothing to offer except a handy local train station. But so many kolkatans have established their secondary home there. Where will we go for our daily groceries, that isn’t really my main concern.

L1160321While I was there, memorizing what was left of once vivid Prantik Market, a man took me aside and requested me to show those pictures in my country. “Tell them the kind of problems we’re facing here”. Actually it’s here that I want to show those images so that whoever is responsible for this realizes that, whereas most countries, including India, are fighting against poverty and unemployment, they just put hundreds of honest people out of business.

L1160308But this is India, Incredible India as the official propaganda says. People won’t stay distraught for long! They’ll clean up the mess and accommodate themselves with the new décors. Adda – a local tradition – must go on!


L1160318A question remain… Why so suddenly? Why transforming lovely Santiniketan in a battlefield so soon before the Mela? That’s my wonder… Rumor has that India’s most beloved movie star – “Big B” as in nothing less than Amitabh Bachchan – who very recently spent a few hours in “The abode of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore” did not really enjoy what he saw: poverty, dirtiness, shambles,… even his hotel room wasn’t up to his standards. For that last one, we won’t blame him… Have you seen the Camelia incongruity?!



Basanta Utsav

150305 Holi Crowd1

The whole India is celebrating Holi all together, the festival of colors, also called Dol in Bengal. However, in Santiniketan, students of Visva-Bharati welcome the Spring in their own peculiar way. It’s  Basanta Utsav, a tradition started by The Poet himself.

150305 Holi Colors1


Here, every spring is welcomed with songs – Rabindra sangeet – dances – Rabindra nach – dry ORGANIC colors and, basically, without bhang, this ancient preparation of cannabis’ leaves and flowers. The ambiance is not as wild – and sometimes aggressive – as in other parts of the country but bon-enfant, both friendly and slightly childish.

150305 Holi Foule1

The festivities starts with the song ‘Ore grihabashi’ as the students dance their way into the venue.

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Ore Grihobashi, khol dar khol laglo je dol

Sthaule jaule bono taule laglo je dol, dar khol


Oh people! Break open the doors!
There is a spring stir!

150305 Holi Dance1

But who really came to WATCH?

Songs, dances and colors are all around, among the joyful crowd.

150305 Holi Colors3

150305 Holi Colors2


Jhaunjauro baundhono chino kore dee
Amra bidduth, amra chaunchol, amra odbhuth


We break down constraints which bind us…

We are like lightning, we are restless, we are unique

150305 Holi Colors5


And, as the restless ones washes the colors off their faces and exhausted bodies, the full moon rises.

The full moon watches.

The full moon inspires.

Happy Holi. Happy Dol.


150305 Full moon