Kolkata22 minutes agoAuthor: Prabhakar Mani Tiwari
Currently, work is going on to build a small pandal here. The puja will be inaugurated by a sex worker on October 21.
- Durga idol cannot be built without the mud of red light area, but less people will know that Sonagachhi’s sex workers have been conducting puja since 2017.
- In Sonagachi area, 11,000 sex workers live permanently, apart from this, on an average three thousand women from the suburbs of Kolkata come here.
With great difficulty, on the order of the court, we got the right to conduct Durga Puja. This year our business is almost at a standstill due to corona and long lockdown. But, we will not give up our right to conduct worship. This is the reason why this year too we are conducting pooja at a very small level.
This is to say of Pushpa Das, a sex worker in the Sonagachhi area of Kolkata, one of the largest red light areas in Asia and an active member of the Durga Puja Committee to be held here. She says, “Masks and sanitizers will be mandatory for visitors coming to the pandal. Two gates of the pandal have been built. There will also be a provision of masks and sanitizers.
This time our theme is lock. This means who will open the locks on our lives. We have donated from friends and family. Apart from the well-wishers of the Durbar Mahila Coordination Committee, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has also announced to give 50 thousand rupees to each pandal. ‘
Very few people in the country will know that Durga statue cannot be built without the soil of the red light area. But, even less than that people would know that Sonagachi’s sex workers have also been conducting Pooja since 2017. He got his right after a long court battle.
The matter of taking soil from the red light area for Durga statue may not have come down everyone’s throat. This question arises in the mind that why the soil of the red light area which is seen in the society is taken for such a holy event.
The Durbar Mahila Coordination Committee (DMSS), the largest organization of sex workers, also helps in worship. It is the first and only Durga Puja organized by sex workers in the country.
Actually, there is an old mythological belief that long ago a sex worker, Goddess Durga used to be a very big worshiper. However, that sex worker who was ostracized from society had to face a variety of tortures. It is believed that in order to save his devotee from this scorn, Durga himself started the tradition of getting his idol installed from the soil of his courtyard.
Also, the goddess had given him a boon that the idols would not be complete without the use of clay. Apart from this, it is also believed that when a man goes inside a room, he leaves all his purity outside the brothel frame. Therefore the soil outside the frame becomes sacred.
Due to the insistence on not giving up their rights, the corona epidemic and earnings have come to a standstill, they have decided to organize Durga Puja this year as well. Despite the Corona epidemic and the earning completely stalled, this year has decided to organize Durga Puja. The Durbar Mahila Coordination Committee (DMSS), the largest organization of sex workers, also helps in worship. It is the first and only Durga Puja organized by sex workers in the country.
At present, work is going on to build a small pandal. The puja will be inaugurated by a sex worker on October 21. This time the plight of the workers of Sonagachi will be the theme of this Durga Puja. Pushpa explains the problems faced by the workers during the lockdown and the problems they are facing at present, all these things will be shown through posters and photographs in their Durgapuja pandal. There will be a big lock hanging on the main gate of the pandal. This lock will symbolize the life and employment of these sex workers.
The pandal will be eight feet wide and 12 feet high while the maximum height of the statue will be seven feet. Sanatan Pal is building the statue.
Mahashweta Mukherjee, associated with the Durbar Mahila Coordination Committee, says, “Sex workers have been unemployed for the past seven months due to the corona epidemic. Every single day of lockdown has been extremely heavy on them. Despite being associated with this profession, he is responsible for children and family. But, Corona has broken his back. “
She says that now life among the corona is slowly returning to the track, but the condition of these women remains the same. These people are associated with a profession that cannot do any other work. Nobody wants to give them any work.
Kajal Bose, secretary of the Durbar Committee, says, ‘We have not collected donations from anyone. Have raised funds among themselves and if someone has given it happily, he has taken it. We are conducting pooja on a very small level. But, all traditions will follow.
She says that the construction of the pandal has started in North Kolkata’s Avinash Kaviraj Street with Khunti Puja. The pandal will be eight feet wide and 12 feet high, while the maximum height of the statue will be seven feet. Sanatan Pal is building the statue. A team of ten workers oversees the entire work of Pooja.
By the way, sex workers of this area have been conducting puja in a room since 2013. However, he was allowed to worship in public in 2017 following an order from the Calcutta High Court. His event in 2018 made headlines in the country and abroad. Then there was a huge crowd in that pandal.
Sonagachi’s sex workers have also been conducting puja since 2017. He got his right after a long court battle.
11,000 sex workers live permanently in Sonagachi area. Apart from this, on an average three thousand women come here from the suburbs adjacent to Kolkata, till recently the sun was not sunk in the Sonagachi area of Kolkata, which is called the biggest market of body trade in Asia. It would be more correct to say that the sun used to light up only after the sun set.
But, after the danger of coronavirus was exposed, there has been silence for months here. Whether day and night… everything is the same. This has led to starvation in front of sex workers living here. Many sex workers are unable to pay the rent of the houses.
The Durbar Women Coordination Committee (DMSS) says that due to the huge decrease in the number of customers, women running livelihood through the body trade are facing a lot of difficulty. The corona virus has put a question mark over the future of this evergreen dehmondi.
The founder and chief advisor of DMSS, Dr. Samarjit Jana, says, “These sex workers need food and money to live.” I have never seen so many bad days in this business in my long life. Many women who have sex trade in the area have gone to their distant relatives. But, during a week of Durgapuja, all the sex workers will forget all their sufferings and worship the goddess in the pandal.