Ho Chi Minh Sarani Kolkata, WB 700071
With its unique form of traditional expression that is woven into the cultural landscape of the town, fiercely defended by the citizens of the town and with a two-hundred-and fifty-year pedigree rivalling the Rio Carnival, Chandannagars Jagadhatri Puja has long been an understudied form of intangible cultural heritage in Hooghly. What makes this Puja unique; what are the patterns of continuity and change within it and how do they relate to what may have been the particularly liberal nature of French sovereignty in the area during the period British colonial rule in India? From the 1920s to the present day, what forms of technology transfer, such as in lighting artistry, link it to Kolkatas Durga Puja and beyond to other celebrations in India and in the Indian diaspora worldwide? Most importantly, what is the best mixed scholarly and popular form for capturing the particular contemporary conundrum of the Chandannagar Puja, a rare output of local authentic Indian cultural expression with massive buy-in by local people, but whose cultural expression is under threat due to rapid urban change? Since February 2018, the Hugli River of Cultures Project, a major two-year international initiative, funded by the UKs Arts and Humanities Research Council (University of Liverpool) and the Indian Council for Historical Research (IIT Kharagpur), has been bringing the expertise of cultural historians, human geographers, landscape historians, anthropologists and environmental historians to bear in supporting local academics, professional film makers, photographers and historians to study Jagadhatri Puja Chandannagar over two years and co-create a four-part docudrama and scholarly answers to some of these timely questions and secure the Jagadhatri Puja at the centre of sustainable heritage development for the benefit of all the citizens of Chandannagar. This proposed half-day symposium in the hallowed space of the ICCR Kolkata, is the first public dissemination of the teams research findings and preview of stills from the docudrama.
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