Durga Puja speaks for ho­mo­sex­u­als, trans­gen­ders

Cu­rios­ity over pan­dal with fo­cus on end­ing os­traci­sa­tion

The Hindu - - NATION - Soumya Das

A Durga Puja in south Kolkata has be­come sig­nif­i­cant as it has taken up the marginal­i­sa­tion of ho­mo­sex­u­als as its theme, in wake of the Supreme Court’s ver­dict de­crim­i­nal­is­ing ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity. The plight of ho­mo­sex­u­als and the trans­gen­der com­mu­nity will be high­lighted with the use of med­i­cal in­stru­ments such as saline bot­tles, tubes and ban­dages, which will sym­bol­ise the men­tal wounds in­flicted on ho­mo­sex­u­als by so­ci­ety, puja com­mit­tee mem­bers of the Baroba­gan Cul­tural As­so­ci­a­tion in Be­hala said.

When vis­i­tors walk through small cor­ri­dors, life-size clay mod­els with loud­speaker cones in place of heads will great them. Through them, record­ings of hu­man voices re­sem­bling taunts and jeers faced by ho­mo­sex­u­als and trans­gen­ders will be played.

In­side the main sev­eral wooden cut-outs of a face with the com­bined fea­tures of a goat and a man will be placed op­po­site the dais, upon which the main idol will be lo­cated. Th­ese cut-outs are meant to sym­bol­ise a scape­goat.

“Ho­mo­sex­u­als and trans­gen­der peo­ple are of­ten made scape­goats by so­ci­ety. Th­ese cut-outs rep­re­sent their or­deal,” Upashona Chat­ter­jee, the artist con­struct­ing the

told

The main dais, where the

pan­dal, pan­dal The Hindu.

Durga idol is placed, will have sev­eral saline bot­tles and tubes hang­ing from the wall of the Sign­boards with ‘Is ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity a crime?’ writ­ten in Ben­gali with red ink will be placed on both sides of the dais.

pan­dal. Why this theme

The idea to pick up the theme first struck Ms. Chat­ter­jee last De­cem­ber when she was trav­el­ling in bus. “One of the pas­sen­gers got ex­tremely an­gry when an­other pas­sen­ger, a ho­mo­sex­ual, touched him ac­ci­den­tally. Then I de­cided to take up the theme,” she said.

Mem­bers of the puja com­mit­tee ini­tially ob­jected but later agreed. “The theme has gen­er­ated a lot cu­rios­ity among the lo­cals. Although they did not ob­ject, they were cer­tainly a bit sur­prised,” said Brind­abon Paul, sec­re­tary of the puja com­mit­tee.

SOUMYA DAS ■

Artist Upashona Chat­ter­jee work­ing on the idol.

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