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Share funds and festive fun

Down with extravagance! Puja organisers take note: The overwhelming opinion of GenY is that Puja décor budgets should be hacked in favour of the underprivileged. This is the second, and last, batch of letters in response to the Time to Talk motion: “Should half of Puja chanda be donated for a good cause'”

lIt’s really silly to spend such huge amounts of money on the decoration of pandals or lighting in a country like India, where millions are starving. Why should so much be spent on pandals and lighting that are removed in less than a week' The devotion is lost amidst the lavish expenditure. The Pujas should not be a time for competition.

Moumita Rudra

lDevotion extends beyond conventional worship. Pandals and decorative lighting have no meaning in a country like India, where so many have no shelter or electricity. It would be better if the puja chanda is given for a good cause to satisfy the Goddess.

Anuraag Jaiswal

Class X, Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan

lIt may seem to be a good idea to donate puja collections, but it is just not feasible! Puja committees would never part with the chanda, especially when the Pujas are becoming more a competition than a celebration.

Aparajita Dasgupta

Asutosh College

lHow can we tell puja committees to part with their funds if we do not practise what we preach' How many of us are ready to sacrifice part of our Puja expenses in favour of the unfortunate' Why can’t we sacrifice a few clothes and give the money in charity' Calcutta is incomplete without all the pomp and show of the Pujas, but the sacrifice would be worth it if it helped orphans or the elderly.

Name not given

lSwami Vivekananda had said that the best way to serve God was to serve people outside temples. Instead of spending lakhs on decorations, puja committees should give a portion of their subscriptions to the poor.

Anuja Kar

lPuja chanda could be given away for social service. The Pujas last only a few days, but we spend so much on the arrangements. If half the collections could be spent in a meaningful way, those who are deprived of the pleasures of the festive season could benefit.

Ashmita Barua,

PG I, Calcutta University

lHalf the chanda must be donated for a good cause. Gifts could be bought for street children who have never had the pleasure of receiving new clothes. Or, a part could be donated to homes for orphans, senior citizens or the physically challenged. This will not only help the underprivileged, but will also make us all feel happy. Small cuts on pandal budgets could make this possible. There is a little bit of God in everyone, so serving others is in reality serving God.

Kamalika Chaudhuri,

Class XI, Ballygunge Shiksha Sadan

lHalf, or at least a considerable amount of the chanda could be donated for a good cause. Since we all usually pray to God for a smooth and prosperous year, we could lend a hand to make someone else’s prayers come true. Why wait for a miracle'

Somnath Paul,

Class XII, Calcutta Boys School

 

Busy behind camera

Tathagata Chowdhury has a busy year ahead. The 22-year-old student who has assisted and acted in projects like the big-budget Antarghat, is now embarking on his first directorial venture. Hi Mom, a digital, “experimental” telefilm for Tara Bangla, has been conceived and scripted by Tathagata, who has so far directed plays and ad films, besides acting on stage.

The shoots for the 60-minute “psychological thriller” in English will take place from December 1 to 3. Not surprisingly, the final-year law student’s film revolves around a criminal lawyer. “It’s all about mind games between a psychiatrist and a criminal lawyer,” explains Tathagata, who has been “dreaming about making the film for the past three years”. So far, George Baker has signed on as the psychiatrist, while Pallavi Chatterjee may come on board as well. Most of the characters will be from Tathagata’s group, The Theatricians.

And that is where Tathagata is spending his free time, though his colleagues have taken over the directorial reins. The drama group has two big productions coming up, the first of which is The Birthday Party on Friday and Saturday, produced by Tathagata. Directed by Dhruv Mookerji, who has just graduated from St Stephen’s College, the Harold Pinter play is his maiden venture, too.

Next January, Prithviraj Choudhury, another actor from the group and an ex-student of St Stephen’s, is directing Alice in Acidland, which he has written himself.

 

Save the kids

Sanlaap, a human rights organisation working to combat trafficking and sexual exploitation of children, and the eastern India affiliate of ECPAT International, is organising a youth meet on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children — the Role of Youth Campaign, on Saturday, at the Academy of Fine Arts.

Sexual exploitation of children is a $7 billion industry. Children are prostituted in the red-light areas of Calcutta, and also on some other premises, in a clandestine manner. Children, usually girls, are trafficked from villages in West Bengal, Bangladesh, Nepal, Assam, Bihar, Orissa and other states, and sold into prostitution. The families of these children are usually promised jobs by these traffickers, or tricked into marriage and then lured away.

Saturday’s day-long youth meet will be attended by children who have been rescued from prostitution, victims of child pornography and students. Members of groups like the Interact, AIESEC and The Telegraph in Schools will also be invited to draw up a plan of action for the next year.

All those interested in joining the network as a youth leader can send in an e-mail to [email protected] or contact Roop Sen of Sanlaap at 464-9596.

Sangeet Shirodkar,

Asian Youth Representative, ECPAT International.

 

Question hour

St James’ School won the finals of the Maggi Inter-School Quiz Competition 2002 recently held at Vidya Mandir. Calcutta Boys School came in as runners’ up, with G.D. Birla trailing at third place in the competition that drew participants from around 350 schools in eastern India, across 11 states.

Students from Classes IV, V and VI took part in intra-school selections held in the schools, July through August. The top 36 teams were present in the finals, with the written selections cutting the number down to eight finalists — Birla High School for Boys, La Martiniere for Boys, Assembly of God Church, G.D. Birla, Loreto, Elliot Road, St James’, Calcutta Boys School and Modern English Academy, Barrackpore.

Quiz master Gaurav Gupta had a range of queries up his sleeve on subjects like ‘Speed’, ‘Music’, ‘Sports’ and ‘Calcutta’. A visual round, called ‘Name, Place, Animal, Thing’, checked the participants powers of recall. The audio round had the whole audience singing the latest numbers.

 

Concert call

If you kicked yourself for missing the Bon Jovi concert in Mumbai a few years ago, here is another chance to check out the rockers in action, in the flesh. MTV Asia is running the Bounce with Bon Jovi to Australia contest, the winners of which will be flown to Australia for the December concerts in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. Tune in or log on to the Net to find out the details…

 

Playtime together

The Pujas were a busy time for Smilearth Foundation, a recently-formed NGO that has “adopted” slum children in Garia and Manoharpukur Road. On October 9, the tots of Mother’s Care school interacted with the kids, putting up a skit for the kids from Smilearth. Two days later, the students of Lakshmipat Singhania Academy gave them diyas they had made specifically for the occasion. On Saptami, the kids from the project areas were given new clothes and taken out for a day of pandal-hopping. Flagged off by actor Arjun Chakrabarty, this was followed by a lunch with the residents of Asha Apartments in Tollygunge.

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