Madhubani Folk Art Style Durga Ma painted by Babu – a NEEV CIL Member
(Do you think we can sell paintings like these to help make NEEV CIL Community sustainable? Please let me know)
Maa aschhen (Maa Durga is coming home) is the expression that reverberates on the lips of every Bengali as Durga Puja approaches. Every festival of India is inextricably woven with nature. Urban folk have lost this connection but those who have the rare privilege to stay in the rural areas can participate in the wondrous harmony of Indian festivals and nature. At the slightest hint of a clear blue sky, pleasant cool breeze, and scattered white clouds, a Bengali villager will announce to the world Maa aschhen( Maa Durga is coming home). It has now become sort of a ritual, clear blue sky, cool breeze and scattered clouds equate to Durga Puja. Doesn’t really matter if it rains the next day but as soon as the sun rises again and there’s this blue sky with scattered clouds, the villager will again reassure himself “Maa aschhen.”
But there is an even more spectacular occurrence that predates the Durga Pooja. It is the blossoming of the Kash Phool. Kaash Phool or the Kans grass (Saccharum Spontaneum) is something every Bengali will identify Durga Puja with. Kaash Phool is a type of grass that grows during this season and is mainly found along the banks of the rivers. The sight of Kash Phool will send any Bengali into a nostalgic frenzy. However, one doesn’t need to be only a Bengali to be enraptured by the beauty of this grass. Adorning the riverside like a tuft of snow against a crystal clear blue sky and fluffy clouds, the sight is magical to behold. One has to see it in order to appreciate it. Words and photographs cannot even begin to do justice to it.
However our advancing materialistic and technological ambitions are wiping out such sights. Where are the riversides where the Kans grasses can grow and beckon Durga Ma, the one who slays the evil. When we have finished with polluting the last river on our earth with toxic chemicals and destroyed our riversides, the Kans grasses will stop growing and there would be no one to beckon Durga Ma to help us from the Mahishasura of technology. Already the riverside of Village Hurlung is prey to indiscriminate sand mining. On a few fortunate days – when the greedy tractors have not scraped every last grain of sand for constructing concrete jungles – we are greeted by a sand bank; on which we can lay down and watch the night sky bejeweled with stars.
I am pasting a few photographs of the Kans Grass adorning the riverside of Hurlung. Several visitors have come to NEEV and have been mesmerized by the sight. You can help us save these natural wonders in a small village by supporting the NEEV CIL School construction. The NEEV CIL school will be the centre for a different kind of education for the village kids, an education that would help them appreciate and conserve nature, an education that will help them adopt a sustainable and ecological lifestyle, an education that would raise an army of children who can redress the wrongs we have done to the earth, an education that would seed a new civilization based on Integral Living – a life without conflict. We spend thousands of rupees buying dresses, making pandals and eating food; none of which is going to save the earth from environmental destruction. If we grasp the real essence of Durga Puja, then we shall join hands with an endeavor that can help save the earth. That would be the real Durga Puja.
The Kans Grass adorning the Swarnarekha Riverside silhouetted by the Dalma Mountains and clear blue sky
The silver splendour of Kans Grass shining in the balmy autumn light
The Kans Grass shining against a threatening monsoon sky
The Kans Grass growing along the Swarnarekha riverside
The Kans Grass in warm sunny weather bordering the paddy fields of Hurlung
The Kans Grass shooting like a white flame besides a Hurlung Village house
A dragon fly clutching a straw of Kans Grass against an evening sky
Picture of our friend Manjeet and NEEV Intern from Germany Eva against the sea of Kans Grass
Our friend Vinita with the CIL members with the background of Kans Grass