A relay race for children under way at the BG Block carnival. Picture by Bhubaneshwarananda Haldar
A carnival, organised recently by BG Block Residents’ Association, had something for everyone. Since the block does not have its own park they held the event at neighbouring BH Park.
For kids there was a bouncy castle, floor ludo with giant dice, stalls making pop corn and candy floss.... A man wore a big dinosaur outfit and little girls walked around holding the dino’s hand. A big gorilla impressed the boys by playing cricket with them and scared the grandmas by popping out of nowhere to shake their hands.
There were also chaat, phuchka and juice counters besides nail art, body art and mehendi artistes. “I’ve got beautiful red and green nail art done with beads on it,” smiled Nilasree Bhattacharya, also showing off her mehendi and skull-shaped body art. There was a parrot at the venue too, predicting everyone’s future.
The senior citizens had an informal adda session and the organisers had arranged for all senior couples to be photographed together. The pictures were later sent to them as a souvenirs. A magic show was put up by Krishna Pada Adhikary, a resident of AG Block. He impressed by turning a cola bottle into flowers and making a picture of Ganesha appear in an empty photo frame. “I am a retired railway officer but I enjoy doing magic. I perform free of cost wherever I am invited,” smiled Adhikary.
The star attraction was a body piercing artist — Mrityunjoy Dutta. After the customary announcement of “Do not try this at home”, Dutta’s assistants started piercing his arms with pins. Bewildered kids asked: “Isn’t he getting hurt?” and their parents tried their best to drag them away, declaring “this show is not for kids”. Dutta was requested to cut short his final act, where he pulled a van with a rope that was hooked to a thick needle piercing his chest.
The carnival was put up by an all-women’s committee, comprising Chhaya Adak Ghosh, Gouri Ghosh, Lina Dutta and Suparna Mukherjee.
In a township where intra-block events mark the social calendar, residents of three neighbouring blocks joined hands to welcome the Bengali New Year. Blocks AB, AC and AD took part in the function held just outside AC Block community hall.
A common theme — folk — was chosen and the three blocks put up individual programmes in their allotted time slots.
From AB Block had come little dancers in yellow saris and teenagers who sang. “I’m loving it,” said Rittika Dey of Class IX, who sang songs like Sujan majhi re. “This is the first time we’ve been invited to sing in another bock. We’ve practised extra to keep the AB Block banner flying high.”
The AD Block delegates were all under-18 too. They danced to popular numbers like Sohag chand bodoni dhoni and sang in chorus to Lal paharer deshey ja and Dhitang dhitang boley. “Folk songs are rhythmic. I like dancing to them,” said eight-year-old dancer Anushka Basu. Priyadarshini Chatterjee of Class VII said that most of her fellow singers learnt Rabindrasangeet but that folk was fun too.
Finally, a group of 16 put up eight songs on behalf of host AC Block. The group was led by Goutam Baran Adhikary, a Rabindrasangeet teacher of the block, who confessed that folk was his passion. “Folk music was once as popular as Rabindrasangeet is today. We have tried to present authentic renditions of the songs, using an accordion instead of a synthesiser,” said Adhikary.
The organisers were pleased with the result. “We thought it would be thrice the fun to invite our neighbouring blocks on either side,” said secretary of the AC Block committee Samit Ray. “So many more people have come to attend the event.”
By kids, for kids
A newly-formed craft club recently held a workshop for underprivileged children. Conducting the workshop were not adults but children from Salt Lake homes who shared what they learn in school.
There were around 15 children teaching 25 underprivileged ones of their age group. The event, held at AA Block community hall, was conducted by CraftCombine. The parents of the Salt Lake children were supervising everything but the focus was on the interaction of the kids.
Children of CraftCombine in action. (Rashbehari Das)
So Advik Acharya, a Class II student of Don Bosco Park Circus, did his best to show Akash Bairagi, a Class I student of a Sealdah school, how to make a bookmark. “I’ve learnt this in school but today seems like more fun,” said Advik.
As for the little learners, it was an afternoon well spent. “I will keep my bookmark in my Bengali book,” smiled Sampa Das, a Class III student. Sampa had come to the workshop with a bandaged head. Owing to lack of parks in her Duttabad neighbourhood she had been playing on the road when she fell and broke her crown. She had never made any craft items before.
The children also embellished paper bags, were taught origami and kirigami (paper cutting) and were all ears at a story-telling session. Paper, colour pencils, ribbons and other material were provided by the Salt
Lake-based club and students of NIFT helped out too.
“I got the idea of this workshop when I saw my eight-year-old daughter teaching our domestic help’s daughter to make the craft items she learns in her school,” says social worker Urmy Palchaudhuri, whose brainchild this is. “We also wanted our kids to inculcate good values.”
Parents of other Salt Lake children were very supportive too. Said Ratna Chakrabarti of GD Block: “Not every child would interact freely with underprivileged kids. But a workshop like this breaks barriers.”