Merrymaking and cheer apart, ‘public hugs’ were an integral part of the ‘Kolkata Rainbow Carnival 2018’ held earlier this year. Prosenjit Pal went click happy, while Nikita Kabra captured sound bites at Triangular Park in South Kolkata on February 18
The main photograph above shows one of the several carnival games in progress – couples needed to balance themselves and dance on a piece of paper that kept getting smaller as it was folded at the end of each round of music. The couple or couples who managed to afloat on the paper till the last round became the winners.
In the end, it was quite inevitable that the couples would have to hug each other in order to balance themselves on the paper. Thankfully, no moral brigade, unlike the recent Kamala Girls’ School and Kolkata Metro incidents, brought up questions of ethos, culture et al.
The craftwork . . .
Listen to what Abir and Jaydip, two of the carnival participants had to say about why they were there: “A carnival is a place where different people meet and get to know each other – this carnival is an opportunity for the larger public to mingle with and get to know queer people and see their work.”
Posters with a cause . . .
The poster text is a line borrowed from a Bengali song Baandh Bhenge Dao written by Rabindranath Tagore; translated it means ‘shatter the barrier’.
Sound bite from Amrita Sarkar – she came from Balasore, and was busy volunteering with collecting donations for the carnival.
Hear what Avinaba Dutta, one of key movers and shakers who made the carnival happen, had to say: “When we were making preparations for the carnival, we didn’t expect such an overwhelming response . . . we’re hoping to inspire someone else to organize the carnival next year!”
Food for soul and body . . .
Inspirational words from Anjana at the Adamant Eve Reimagined Cafe stall: “I’m participating as an ally. I believe there should be no marginalization, and this a perfect platform to bring people together. There’s been a great response and I’ve had to refill and cook more than once for the stall. People have been so kind – it’s wonderful.”
The decor . . .
At the Varta stall . . .
Varta webzine digests, research publications, posters and bookmarks from Varta were available together with queer archival year planners from Nazariya, Delhi; leaflets and badges from RAHI, Delhi / Kolkata; stationery donated by Sienna, Kolkata; and t-shirts and handbooks on disability rights from Sruti Disability Rights Centre, Kolkata. A standee calling for old clothes donations from Responsible Charity, Kolkata was also on display.
Slices of cake, greeting cards and jewellery with beads and shells made by Varta’s volunteers were also a part of the attractions in the stall. Many of the items were for fundraising through suggested donations while others were for general distribution. See short video here.
The last photograph above shows the Varta team posing for a photograph. From left to right: Trustee Kaushik Gupta, volunteers Sudeb Sadhu, Nikita Kabra and Sudha Jha, a visitor to the stall (name not known), and volunteer Souvik Ghosh. In the background is Founding Trustee and Varta Editor Pawan Dhall.
The carnival was organized by the West Bengal Forum for Gender and Sexual Minority Rights. In the past, other queer support forums in Kolkata have also organized similar events, like Kolkata Rainbow Pride Festival (2011) and Sappho for Equality (2012-14).
Read also Queer Cheer at Rainbow Carnival in Kolkata by Nazia Khan published in the March 2018 issue of Varta – Editor.