Change is the only constant.. Changing times and Bangali der Nobo Borsho ( Bengali New Year)

এই আকাশে,
আমার মুক্তি আলোয় আলোয়
আমার মুক্তি ধুলায়
ধুলায়
ঘাসে ঘাসে ॥
এই আকাশে
আমার মুক্তি আলোয় আলোয়আমার মুক্তি আলোয় আলোয়
এই আকাশে,
আমার মুক্তি আলোয় আলোয়
আমার মুক্তি ধুলায়
ধুলায়
ঘাসে ঘাসে ॥
এই আকাশে
আমার মুক্তি আলোয় আলোয়

The Tagore song talking about the unbridled freedom of soul was what I was humming while I stood in front of the camera . The clear blue sky with some vagabond clouds looked like the corrugated roof for earth Juxtaposed perfectly again the azure backdrop was the elegant ‘ Lalit‘ , the heritage hotel which has been a witness of changing times and which itself is a perfect blend of oriental and occidental.

Since time immemorial it’s how humanity has adopted to changing time retaining the essence the very root of our existence.

So many times I have heard people say that we are forgetting our culture , our heritage . In this 21st century everything is mechanical or if we want to tell it in Bangla then the word will be ‘meki ‘. But is it so ?

1426 , yes as we Bengalis step into this year have we truly forgotten our ‘ adopkaida’ ? I think life, stress, targets , goals have taken a toll thus festivals are no longer elaborate affairs but somewhere the essence remains the same.

We Bengalis are proud of our tradition that has been passed on from generation to generation . Work has taken many away from the roots but somehow every festival is celebrated not only in Bengal but overseas. We have taken the seeds of our culture and have strewn it all around the world.

Sarees have always been our identity for ages. Our very own muslil sarees were in great demand and they were rumoured to be the finest ! Sarees like jewellries pass from generation to generation , and all of them tells a story.

My Saree Story

For this Poila Baishak I really wanted to create a look , a look that will speak about my roots , my identity. I wore a ‘ Tant’ Saree, one that belonged to my Paternal Grandmother. A woman who was a rebel in her own right. She belonged to a Zaminder family of Dhaka and was married to a family with no such pedigree. I have always seen her as a rebel , a very strong headed woman ( yes, I have inherited that from her ) . I have heard my grandfather tell the story of how she stood in front of her in laws demanding she be sent to her husband who at that time was posted in Delhi. In those days such demands were considered audacities but she always was an iconoclast. She loved jewels , yet when the family house was being constructed she didn’t think twice to give some of her priced possessions to fund that. I was going to wear her saree, will I be able to do justice to it? That was the question that bothered me , she always wore it in the typical ‘ atpoyro’ style , ( yes she always wore a saree in that manner). I decided to wear it in the modern way and whereas she never wore a blouse , I coupled it with a designer blouse by Sayon Mitra.

The jewellery

For the jewellery , I choose the gold plated ones that my mother often used to wear, because by that time wearing golden ornaments for all occasions were no longer deemed safe.

The look

For the makeup I took the help of Ishrat Ansar and Bobby Saha. They both did an exceptional job and gave me a very contemporary look with smoky eyes, prominent contours , dark red lips.

Thus in my look I was trying to amalgamate three generations. A look that will be royal, having the reminisce of the Bengal Zamindari era but at the same time will have that seventies fashion and the 21st century look.

Location

For location I choose Lalit and I am ever thankful to Madhumita Bose for letting me shoot inside the Heritage property. I wanted to shoot in Lalit because this Heritage hotel perfectly juxtaposes the old with new. While the structure remains the same , they have infused touches of modernity while the essence remains the same. If you go inside the Bakery , you can still see the century old oven and the spiral staircases all around the property reminds one of the bygone British era.

The Shoot

I don’t have words to thank Saurabh Dasgupta for capturing my true emotions, for making my grandmother’s saree look so grand and for helping me to poignantly bring out the blend of eras.

Thus years will come , the Bengaliana that’s imbibed within us will not fade away , with globalisation it will adopt to modernity but somewhere down the generations we will remain loyal to our roots.

Yes, Noboborsho no longer means a huge family congregation and an elaborate home cooked spread rather it means elaborate spread and Bengali NewYear specials in the hotels and restaurants. It’s those same delicacies cooked not by the women of the house by by the chefs. Yes changes are inevitable but change does not mean death of rituals , norms . Those will be alive always in our hearts , afterall..

আমি বাংলায় কথা কই
আমি বাংলার কথা কই
আমি বাংলায় ভাসি, বাংলায় হাসি, বাংলায় জেগে রই’

My Photographs are captured by-

Saurabh Dasgupta

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