T H E H E A R T B E A T O F T H E I N D I A N C O M M U N I T Y
SINGAPORE, WEEKEND OF FRIDAY,
SEPTEMBER 22, 2017
MCI (P) 043/09/2017
Women in tech
Six women in Singapore who are making their mark as technopreneurs
REPORT ON PAGES 10, 11 & 12
In the article titled “Jain couple complete 30-day
fast” published on Sept 1, it was mentioned that this was a first in
Singapore. The Jain Society has since clarified that a few individuals
have done the 30-day fast before. But it was a first for a couple.
Chocolate Durga to
usher in festive season
IN A culinary tribute to Kumartuli
potters, Holiday Inn Kolkata Air-
port unveiled a 1.8m idol of god-
dess Durga carved out of nearly
600kg of chocolate (right).
According to a statement by
the hotel, it took a skilled team of
three people under the guidance
of the pastry chef, Mr Sunil, to
complete making the idol in seven
days, working eight hours daily.
The Durga is referred to as
“chocolate rupena” by the team.
It will be on display until
Driving licences to be
linked with Aadhaar
TO CHECK the menace of mul-
tiple licences being issued to driv-
ers, the central government will
soon introduce linking of Aadhaar
with driving licences, said Minister
of Electronics and Information
Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad.
This comes after the govern-
ment linked PAN with Aadhaar.
Said Mr Prasad: “Aadhaar is a
safe and secure tool for good gov-
ernance and empowerment.”
Jharkhand to set up cyber
police stations in all districts
TO FIGHT the rising cybercrime
rate, Jharkhand Police said it will
set up cyber police stations in all
24 districts of the state.
“In the first phase, seven such
police stations will be set up in
places where cybercrimes are
frequent,” said Director-General
of police D. K. Pandey.
He added that 357 people have
been trained to deal with cyber-
crime in the state.
Goa to ban drinking
in public places
GOA’S Chief Minister Manohar
Parrikar has announced a ban on
the consumption of liquor in pub-
lic places and will issue a notifica-
tion by next month.
He said the government will
impose fines or cancel licences of
liquor shops that allow people to
drink near the shops.
Last year, the Goa government
had amended a
law to impose
ing in select
zones” and on
first state to
set up district
first state to set
up district family welfare commit-
tees to deal with the issue of fake
and biased complaints by women
against their husbands, in-laws
and husband’s relatives.
The committees will study the
complaints and try to mediate
between the two sides to settle
They will then submit a report,
before the police intervene.
4,000 special trains
to clear festive rush
THE railways will run 4,000 spe-
cial trains between Sept 20 and
Oct 30 to clear the extra crowd
during the festive season.
This is as compared to 3,800
special trains that ran last year.
Apart from more trains, an of-
ficial said the national transporter
has arranged for 9,500 extra
coaches in over 300 trains.
During this period, railways face
extra rush towards the eastern
states of Bihar, West Bengal and
Odisha, as people go back home
to celebrate Dussehra, Deepavali
Lucknow airport to
handle 4,000 passengers
with new terminal
THANKS to an upcoming
terminal at Lucknow airport,
it will be able to handle 4,000
passengers during peak hours
when it is open.
The Chaudhary Charan Singh
Airport is currently able to cater
to only a maximum of 600
passengers at a time.
The Rs1,230-crore terminal is
being set up as the Ministry of
Civil Aviation said there has been
a steady increase in the number of
domestic as well as international
flyers to and from Lucknow.
Ram Leela drama in Allahabad
PEOPLE in Allahabad came
together to celebrate the
forthcoming Dussehra festival
with a religious procession on
Young Indian artists dressed
as Hindu Gods Rama and Sita
(below) performed a traditional
Ram Leela drama that narrates
the life of Rama, as the crowd
celebrated at the Daraganj area.
Dussehra is also referred to as
Vijayadashami, a festival that
signifies the triumph of good over
evil and takes place after the nine
days of Navratri.
Government to set up 49
cancer centres across India
FORTY-NINE new cancer centres
will be built over the next three
years, due to the rising number of
cancer cases in India.
They will be in addition to 31
already functioning and upgraded
centres since 2015.
The centres will be set up in a
phased manner at an estimated
cost of Rs3,495 crores.
An official told the Times
of India: “The idea is to make
treatment options available
across India so that patients do
not have to travel to Delhi and
Mumbai, which often leads to
additional costs for travel and
September 22, 2017
Tales of communal
harmony this Durga Puja
(Top) An artist putting
the finishing touches
to a Durga idol at a
(Above) Muslim artists
decorating the Puja
pandals in Kolkata.
(Right) Local Muslim
preparations for Durga
Puja at Mohammad Ali
Park in Kolkata.
Some Muslims in Bengal are
very much part of Hindu festival
OR over 200 years, the Nan-
di family in West Bengal’s
Hooghly has been feeding
Muslim fakirs (religious ascetics
who live solely on alms) during
the Hindu festival of Durga Puja.
To the Nandis, this annual ritu-
al has its roots in a family legend
that is testimony to the generos-
ity of the local Muslim commu-
It is also one of the myriad in-
stances of the festival — the big-
gest in Bengal — exemplifying
communal harmony at a time
when the world grapples with
religious animosity and social po-
According to 80-year-old Sati-
pati Nandi, the ninth-generation
descendant of the family that
claims to have been the “largest
importer of betel nuts in eastern
India once upon a time”, this
Hindu-Muslim syncretism comes
“It may sound like a big deal
today, but it all started centuries
ago. It is said that two brothers,
Kuber and Kama Shankar, were
selling pakodas (fried snacks) in
Halishahar in North 24 Parganas
district when they chanced upon
a fakir who gave them a gold mo-
har (coin) to start an enterprise...
revolving around the first thing
they spot,” said Mr Nandi.
The rest is history.
The Nandis ventured into the
betel nut business and eventually
branched out into real estate, ac-
quiring multiple properties across
“In remembrance of the gener-
ous fakir, we feed two fakirs on
Navami (the ninth day of the fes-
tival). Now we usually do not find
fakirs, so we offer khichdi (a dish
made with rice and lentils) to any
two members of the Muslim com-
munity,” Mr Nandi explained.
This communal integration has
spilt over to the state capital Kol-
kata as well.
In the heart of Kolkata is
Kumartuli — the potters’ enclave
— which is in a state of frenzy
with Durga Puja just round the
The clay idols of Durga and her
pantheon are being daubed in
paint and their curves clothed in
Their bald heads are carefully
draped in jute wigs that have
been painstakingly fashioned into
braids and curly tresses for the
Hindu goddess by Muslim crafts-
Neither blinding rain nor reli-
gion gets in the way of business in
this buzzing maze-like colony of
potters, labourers, decorators and
tourists with selfie sticks — the
point of origin of around 5,000
clay Durga idols each year.
Around 400 shilpis (craftsmen)
churn out Durga and her children
in crammed studios.
The final touches include deck-
ing out the idols in accessories.
“Draping the hair is an essential
part of the process. The jute wigs
are fashioned by Muslim families
from Parbatipur near Howrah and
“A typical sabeki, or traditional
idol, dons a curly and wavy wig.
They are mostly black, but we do
have variants of the wig in dark
brown, rust and beige,” said Mr
Babu Pal, a spokesman for the
Slightly rough in texture, they
are almost indistinguishable from
your average wigs.
Packed in bundles starting at
Rs100, these are available as
plaits, straight extensions for the
sides or wavy locks.
“Muslim craftsmen usually fash-
ion the dress material (too).
“You may talk about cow poli-
tics and put a religious spin on
it, but for us, it is the way of life
here... no one talks about this
(Hindu-Muslim issue)... it is busi-
ness,” Mr Pal elaborated.
According to Indologist Nrising-
ha Prasad Bhaduri, Hindu-Muslim
integration during the Durga Puja
was not uncommon in undivided
“It has continued despite geo-
graphical barriers because the
festival is now a huge industry. It
provides employment to people
from all communities.
“It is only some politicians and
communal-minded people who
give it a different spin.
“During immersions, everyone
comes together to bid adieu to the
goddess and family. She is looked
upon as a source of strength and
not as a religious symbol,” Mr
And you don’t have to look
further than Begampur town in
Hooghly district to see several
Muslim families celebrating Durga
Puja as a symbol of the common
culture of the festival that unites
Hindus with other minorities, at
least in Bengal.
Indo-Asian News Service
September 22, 2017
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