Kalyani, March 21, 2021: The green environs of Kalyani Central Park today were filled with a riot of colours, diverse people in equally varied clothes (and masks), music, dance, refreshments, and camaraderie. The ‘excuse’ for this coming together was to celebrate Basanta Utsav or Dol Jatra, and, though unstated, also to overcome the fatigue of nearly a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing, and lockdowns.
The three-hour event beginning sharp at 4 pm was organized by Ranaghat-headquartered queer support forum Nadia Ranaghat Sampriti Society. Bikash Das, President of the organization, made the opening remarks: “Today’s gathering is about removing all forms of discrimination, and treating everyone with kindness and friendship. It’s a joyous occasion and we want to forge ahead towards our goals with this joy in mind. Thank you everyone for joining us and lending us your support.”
Apart from Kalyani itself, participants and members of the audience came from Chakdaha, Gopalnagar, Halisahar, Kanchrapara, Kolkata, Krishnanagar, Naihati, Ranaghat, Santipur, and several other places within and beyond Nadia district. Trans and queer community members were joined in with people from different social sections and included several allies and well-wishers of Nadia Ranaghat Sampriti Society.
Chief guest Balram Majhi, Coordinator, Ward No. 10, Kalyani Municipality, was all praise for the organizers. He said, “I can’t imagine such an event being so well organized in the current situation of a pandemic. I promise to support all future endeavours of Nadia Ranaghat Sampriti Society in whatever capacity I can.”
Hijra community leader Mousumi Guruma thanked the organizers, speakers and the audience for their participation. She said, “Such efforts hold a lot of meaning for my community members, and I’m very happy to have been invited to be a part of this event. We all need to make sure that there’s no one left behind in society.”
The cultural performances of the day provided ample evidence of the talent that trans and queer community members have. Rabindra Nritya and classical dance presentations, contemporary dance performances, vocal music presentations, and recitations received good applause from the 70-80 strong audience. Among the speakers was dance teacher Kabita Dutta, whose troupe for young children presented a number of enjoyable performances. See videos here and here. Local TV channels were present in strength to cover the event.
The distribution of sweetmeats and other refreshments was intermixed with people applying abir in multiple hues to each other. At least for these few moments all differences of identities around gender, sexuality, class and caste seemed to be forgotten and everyone was equal.
The organizers thanked everyone who had contributed to make the event a success and promised to be back with a similar event next year.
About the main photo: Scenes from the event at Kalyani Central Park on March 21, 2021. Photo credits: Rafiquel Haque Dowjah (dance performances) and Nadia Ranaghat Sampriti Society (plate of abir)