Growing up in West Bengal in 80s and 90s would have predominantly familiarised you with a colour . A very powerful colour . A colour called RED . I have grown up seeing this colour across the state as almost a jersey colour for a particular political party . Red is the colour of blood and red is also the colour of sindoor or vermillion (for non Indian readers) which is conventionally a must wear for Hindu married women who smear it on the mid parting of their hair . Before the feminist friends of mine exit, the for writing the word conventional, let me tell you my wife does not wear sindoor and neither I support the thoughtprocess and the logic also .
Amongst all the festivals there are two particular festivals where Red is the ruling colour is Holi ( the festival of colours ) and Sindoor Khela . In traditional bengali Durga Puja, the rituals end on Dashami or the tenth day of the Puja and the idol is immersed in a water body, which is known as Bisorjan .
The married Bengali women bid farewell to Ma durga as she is on her way to Kailash by smearing Sindoor on the forehead of Ma Durga and as well as amongst themselves and by offering traditional bengali sweets to Ma durga . The significance is to pray for a long and happy married life for each other .
This occassion is a goldmine for photographers with Red as ruling colour or the only colour of choice and so many different faces . Adolescent memories of this festival consist of mom and aunts and all elderly ladies looking even more beautiful with sindoor on their faces and moist eyes and sweets but with age and through my lens now I discover stories in each faces, stories crafted in and around red .
There is this elderly grandmother who has been doing this for year after year, comes along with her daughter and daughter in law; the working mom whose existence is a struggle on a daily basis managing the home and work, comes with her daughter; the newly wed young bride comes to take part in her first sindoor khela with a litlle deeper dash of red in her dress and many many more . All the faces different, yet finally get connected, all forget their individual stories of life for the year and they wish each other happy marired life with red in the foreground
Other than Holi this is one festival where there is a colour riot and its a riot of red . I have tried to capture the essence through some pictures here and will look forward to next year once again to search for my characters and stories through red .
When I present the piktures to you I thought let me only keep red – let me know if you like it…. Shubo Bijoyah and Happy Dusserah to all of you