Critiques for Kartik (18th October) Agnishatdal and Agnijaat

Troy @ kestalusrealm.wordpress.com

the review for Agnijaat’s Kartik issue:

Durgapuja (Celebrating Womanhood):
This month’s installment opens in that most Bengali of festivals, with a description of the four ways Durgapuja may be celebrated. I know nothing of its like in the US, with our over-commercialized, over-hyped, cookie-cutter holidays.

Kulin Women:
What a way to abuse the female of the species! Given a dismal life by their caste and widowed or unmarried status, these women are a good argument for

Not So Harmless Images:
Woah! This was new to me, and really got the cogs turning about how it may be used on common blogging sites, like WordPress or Blogger. Even though I’ve little need for using such images, it’s something worth poking around and looking out for on seemingly innocent-looking websites featuring pictures of cats doing amusing things! there’s more to these than meets the browser window!

What Happened to Sita and Savitris?
The situation of many women in India is shaped by social forces and tradition, and here is a good comparison between the virtuous Sita and her own arch-rival for Lord Rama’s heart, the demoness Surpanakha, and the changes wrought in many modern women by India’s independence and the influences of history. This paints a grim portrait of modern womankind on the subcontinent, but I think a sound one given the authoress’s first-hand knowledge and experience. This gives me the impetus to read in full that online Mahabharata I’ve bookmarked recently.

Nature @Kolkata in Kartik:
This one made me want to visit Kolkata during this time of the year, though it is unwise for me to do much travelling out of town, let alone out of the country, in my current situation. Still, the climate and its attendant weather seem to call out to be experienced first-hand, so perhaps some day when I’m more independent, having fewer responsibilities at home. Still, it sounds lovely!

Before You Pick Up the Stone:
A useful bit of wisdom for those inclined to judge others when none are completely blameless, nor immune to being fooled by the clever and unethical.

Mirabai:
Such an interesting bit of history, of a renowned poetess and deep devotee of Lord Krishna, and her mysterious fate, lost to the winds of time. I must look for recordings made using her songs by modern artists.

Story Time:
Here is a collection of interesting short fiction, with Hypocrite Maybe, Wild Ones, and Beautiful Pet really standing out. However the first of the last two, Surprise, is perfect as a story with an Egyptian theme well-suited for this time of year as is the final tale, Halloween Night, a story of a frightful Bhoot Chaturdashi encounter!

Kalipuja and Bhaiphota:
Interesting descriptions of worship and celebration. As a destroyer of evil and wrongdoing, Goddess Kali is rightly feared, and NOT to be trifled with by the dark-hearted, given the sorts of sacrifice required of her priests!

Kalipuja in traditional way:
An informative set of excerpts, describing anecdotes and stories of this puja, and the Festival of Light occurring at the same time. Such colorful accounts!

Verses:
This collection of poetry has a good selection of pieces, though the last, In the name of, stood out as wonderful social commentary with good prosody in its arrangement. Reluctant Moon and I Buy were also excellent reads, and I loved Once upon a time.

My Visit to Puja Pandal:
Some beautiful photos and strong commentary here, worth reading for both!

the review for Agnshatdal’s Kartik issue:

Chittaranjan Das:
As a remarkable and iconic politician, this man moved in illustrious circles, and it is unfortunate that he died when he did. But none of us are promised tomorrow, and he did much good in his own time.

Kanika Bandopadhyay:
A wonderful songstress, writer, teacher, and dancer, she must have had quite the voice and the moves for the music she performed. I must look for recordings of her songs online, which will make interesting listening if I can find them!

Luckily:
This is a good recounting of a classic tale. It reminds me of a recent video lecture I took in a couple of days ago on Hindu funerary customs, of the burning ghats of Varanasi and the holy status of that city. The humorous ending of this story lightens things up a bit, though, and I thoroughly enjoyed this.

Fading:
Strong fantasy imagery of the transition of summer to winter in poetic form. I like this one’s excellent prosody, which is something I’m used to seeing in Freya’s work. This really gets the brain cells working!

The Ghost in the Wishing Well:
Dom outdoes himself here. Good rhythm, good rhyme. I’ll need practice, lots of it, to do half as well!

Bengali Warrior (Sharmishtha Basu):
Good piece by Carolyn on one of those few bloggers whose work and energy I admire. Truth matters, crucially, and to fight for it worth the effort. I can only hope to do half as well!

The Little boy and the tiger:
A good anecdote from pre-Khmer-Rouge Cambodia, with the tiger being particularly touching. I won’t give spoilers here, though. Read it.

With tiny thoughts of you:
A nice bit of verse. Wendell exceeds expectations in the best way possible with this paean to love.

The Thought Hospital:
A great bit of satire with cool brain-creature aliens! I’d like to welcome Mr. Banerjee to this eZine, and congratulate him on this piece. Well-done sir! I enjoyed the cartoons, too.

Leaves fall:
A good piece by Arjo. When loved ones go off to war, things get tragic fast, and here it is in spades. As a war veteran friend I once knew was driven to suicide from his inner metaphorical demons despite surviving his term of service, I know the feeling well.

Treats of D Month:
From the birthday shoutout to Dom, to Swati’s illustrated poetic piece on the Festival of Lights, this month is full of delightful goodies to read and enjoy!

Creator’s quill:
Good poetry in its proper script, with evocative translations. These will be fun to practice with!

India This Month: Kartik 1423
Here, I’d like to take the time to welcome Aayush to the eZine for his contribution written first in Devanagari, and then in Roman script. I’ll have to check out his blog!

The celebrations noted here, five in all, some local, some widespread throughout Bengal and India is impressive. I suspect that perhaps I was born on the wrong continent to enjoy such cool events as these. Maybe in my next life, if there is one…*sigh*

Indus Valley Cities:
A good recounting of what’s known of Harappan civilization, which was apparent quite extensive in contact with other societies. That they were an agrarian civilization is not surprising, with a level of urban sophistication rivalling those they traded with. It will be interesting to find out what happened to them.

That’s it for now! I await the Agrahayan issue!

Troy Loy
Kestalusrealm.wordpress.com

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