Monday, 30th October 2017

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Santanan dehi: Gender-neutral mantra a hit from Calcutta to London

A call to change a mantra that seeks only a son from the Mother Goddess

By Sudeshna Banerjee in Calcutta
  • Published 5.10.19, 1:14 AM
  • Updated 5.10.19, 8:40 AM
  • a min read
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Posters being readied to promote the Santanan Dehi campaign at London Sharad Utsav on Friday Telegraph picture

Close to 500,000 people have registered their support for the call to change a mantra that seeks only a son from the Mother Goddess. In response to a campaign launched by The Telegraph, they have pledged to chant santanan dehi, wanting a child irrespective of gender, in place of putran dehi, which discriminates against daughters.

“Ma-er pujo korbo ar chaibo sudhu chhele? (We’d worship the Mother Goddess but seek only son)?” said Sandipan Banerjee, puja committee convener of Behala Nutan Dal. The club has already spoken to its priest who conducts the anjali. “There is no harm if the mantra is changed,” said Bappaditya Mukherjee, who has been conducting the puja for 19 years according to the Devipuran.

“The mantra dates back to an age when people wanted sons rather than daughters. But we are not in that age any more,” said Parimal Dey, president of Beliaghata 33 No. Palli Bashi Brinda.

Two of London’s pujas, too, have embraced the change. If London Sharad Utsav, housed in Ealing Town Hall, is putting up posters of the campaign, Camden Durga Puja is showing the campaign’s short films, created by The Telegraph and featuring Bengali actors and actresses, on the giant screen at the venue.

“We learnt about the campaign quite late but took no time to come on board. The initiative to seek a child irrespective of gender from the goddess finds synergy with our theme of Tomar Durga, Amar Durga, which encompasses not only the affluent daughters but also the impoverished ones who jump into the river post-immersion to salvage coins or bamboo structures or seek food in dustbins. We are welcoming the LGBTQ community to our puja,” said Ananda Gupta, the chairperson of the 56-year-old Camden puja.

To support the cause, visit the website askfor.org or give a missed call at 7835911177. And most importantly, when you queue up for pushpanjali, make sure you chant santanan dehi at the appropriate moment.