Controversy Erupts Over Durga Puja Banners Stir Debate in Assam and West Bengal

Editor Editor
Sunday, October 29, 2023
Controversy Erupts Over Durga Puja Banners Stir Debate in Assam and West Bengal
Banner Dilemma: Bazaar, Baazar, or Bozar? Exploring Linguistic Nuances
Nagaon, Assam - October 25, 2023: A video capturing a Durga Puja Pandal in Kolkata adorned with an Assamese banner, bearing the inscription "বেজবৰুৱা উচ্চতৰ মাধ্যমিক বিদ্যালয়" (Bezbaurua High School), has sparked a nuanced debate on cultural sensitivity and regional identity. While the Bengalis of West Bengal have accepted this banner without objection, similar banners in Assam have faced controversy, with instances of blackening, tearing, and removal, raising questions about cultural diversity and tolerance.

The Kolkata Connection:

The Durga Puja Pandal in Kolkata's cultural heartland was adorned with an Assamese banner, signifying the rich tapestry of cultural diversity in India. Surprisingly, the Bengali community in West Bengal, known for their passionate celebration of Durga Puja, exhibited no objection to the presence of the Assamese banner. It remained untorn and untouched, symbolizing the spirit of unity in diversity.

Contrasting Responses in Assam:

In stark contrast, Assam witnessed controversy surrounding the use of linguistic symbols in banners. Members of the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) expressed their displeasure by blackening and tearing banners and standees at the 'Kolkata Baazar' shopping mall in Tezpur. Their concerns stemmed from the use of Bengali terms like "Baazar" (market) and "Pujo" (Puja) instead of the Assamese "Bozar" and "Puja." However, it's crucial to clarify that the term "Bazaar" is not exclusive to Bengali; it is a commonly used term in various languages worldwide to denote a marketplace. This dissent surrounding the term points to the intricate nature of linguistic sensitivities and the need for a balanced perspective.

Cultural Roots:

It's essential to remember that both Bengali and Assamese, along with many other languages in the Indian subcontinent, share their roots in Sanskrit and Hindi, which are common to almost all Indian languages. This linguistic commonality underscores the importance of celebrating the rich tapestry of cultural diversity and heritage that India represents.

The Lachit Sena Involvement:

The Lachit Sena, an influential regional organization, entered the fray by removing a Durga Puja Banner from one of the oldest Puja Pandals in the Biswanath District of Assam. Their leader, Shrinkhal Chaliha, was previously booked and arrested under the National Security Act (NSA). This incident further ignited discussions about regional identity, cultural preservation, and freedom of expression.

Expanding Controversy:

The Lachit Sena's actions were not confined to Biswanath District alone. They also tore down a Durga Puja Banner in Nagaon, amplifying the discussion around cultural and linguistic nuances.

The diverse responses to these banners in West Bengal and Assam highlight the intricate nature of regional identities and cultural sensitivities in India. While the Bengalis of West Bengal embraced the Assamese banner as a testament to unity, Assam's contrasting reactions brought to the forefront questions about language and culture. These incidents serve as a reminder of the multifaceted nature of our nation, where each state and region cherishes its cultural identity, but it also raises vital conversations about tolerance and coexistence in a diverse and culturally rich India. Moreover, it underscores the importance of clarifying linguistic misconceptions and ensuring that cultural dialogue is based on accurate information.