The Santal historical heritage, the Bodding Symposium

Bodding

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Introduction: asking difficult questions

Can you imagine that the largest and most valuable collection of your saga manuscripts, Viking ships and other iconic remains from the Viking era – not to speak of your most exquisite collection of folk culture were owned by a foreign museum[1]?

When posing this hypothetical entry question to several of my countrymen their unison reaction is one of utter disorientation.  The idea is hardly imaginable and when truly contemplated – preposterous. This question with its rhetorical edge is however not outlandish.  The reactions provoked, suggests that public memory in Norway about our own long country’s colonial past has faded. read more

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Untold story of India’s quest for Nobel Prize

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Well the Nobel season is on, the prizes will be handed over to those who have contributed for the ‘greatest benefit for the mankind’ the announcement dates have been declared so everything is in place just little more wait. I was just going through the last will of Alfred Nobel it is indeed a fantastic document and the most interesting part lies at the end of it. In the last paragraph Nobel mentions,” Finally, it is my express wish that following my death my veins shall be opened, and when this has been done and competent Doctors have confirmed clear signs of death, my remains shall be cremated in a so-called crematorium”!  I am actually surprised by the phrase, ‘veins shall be opened’ but possibly it means that he wanted to make sure he was dead before being buried! read more

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Bangarh a brief history

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Approximately 1.7 kilometres North-East of the Gangarampur Bridge over the Punarbhaba River lies the lost city of Devkot ,locally known as Bangarh. Bangarh, since it was traditionally regarded as the capital of the demon king Banasura. Francis Hamilton Buchanan was one of the first to understand the historical significance of the ruins of Bangarh.

“The great number of stones in these ruins, and a vast many, have been removed by the Dinjapur Rajas to construct their works, show, that Bannagar has been a place much ornamented, and its wall show, that is was of considerable size and strength. The people here allege that all the stones, which are to be found in the buildings of this district, have been carried from it, and that Gaur owed its most valuable materials to the ruins of Ban Raja’s edifices.” read more

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Patterns in the script of Indus Valley Civilisation

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The people who wrote in the Indus script were highly skilled and specialised. They had a mutually agreed coding that was valid over the entire stretch of the civilisation and beyond. The Indus script was an intellectual and abstract creation of the highest standards.

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Mohenjo-daro is an archeological site in the province of Sindh, Pakistan. Built around 2600 BCE, it was one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization.

The Indus Valley civilization also called the Harappan civilization was one of the largest Bronze Age civilizations in the world. At its peak urban phase (ca. 2600 to 1900 BC) it was spread over an area of more than a million square kilometers in the northwestern parts of India, present day Pakistan and some parts of Afghanistan and Iran. The Indus Valley civilization has been justifiably acclaimed for its well-planned cities, excellent water management systems, highly standardized architecture and rich lifestyle over such a vast area. read more

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Kshtindranath Majumdar: a brief biography

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In the state of West Bengal the Santals and Bengalis have resided together for a long long time. It is very hard to specify a time period of their association nevertheless it is impossible to deny the symbiotic relationship between these two communities. Exchanges as we know occurred on all fronts and it is interesting to observe these interactions. One way to observe these interactions is to look at the exchanges between Bengali and Santali languages which still is quite significant. Both the languages have considerably influenced one another, but in art we get to see another interesting level of interaction which is the subject of this article. read more

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The story of Indian Railways

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The history of Indian Railway which spans over 160 years is an enormous topic, and we will agree that the most interesting part of its is the introduction stage. The first fifty years of Indian Railway is therefore a riveting subject which covers one of the most ambitious projects in India- connecting this massive subcontinent with a network of railways. In the first fifty years Indians under Company and British Raj will find their lands criss-crossed by rail lines cutting across valleys, ravines, ridges and rivers carrying passengers, soldiers, mineral resources and so on. To tell this amazing story I will rely basically on two priceless Indian Railway Reports that was for the year 1860 and 1878. read more

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The Tale of a Viceroy and Two Prime Ministers: Part II

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Epilogue

            You might find this interesting; the first part of this article is the prologue and the second part an epilogue, an end so soon! But I couldn’t have named this part anything more than an epilogue, its epilogue approaching soon, India is close to her freedom; Wavell is close to his final task, and the British Empire heading towards destruction.  Wavell was made a viscount in 1943; Lord Wavell he became.

Unlike Churchill who knew only two Hindi words, Wavell knew Urdu, Pashtu and Persian.[i] His profound scholarship made him quite incomprehensible sometimes, Peter Coat his ADC narrates such a story when he was C-in-C of India. In 1942, the possibility of a Japanese invasion of India had gripped the Viceroy’s palace in Delhi, and Wavell sought for Peter Coats. “Peter have you seen my Browning?” asked Wavell. Coats looked here and there for the gun, in the drawyer, in the shelves it was nowhere, but soon discovered that it was not the gun that Wavell looked for, rather the poet Browning! [ii] read more

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The Tale of a Viceroy and Two Prime Ministers

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Prologue

Field Marshall Archibald Percival Wavell was the Viceroy of India during the turbulent times of October 1943- February 1947, the time most important in the history of India and also for the history of her imperial master for 200 years.  Gandhi wouldn’t utter a phrase than, ‘Quit India’ while Jinnah relentlessly pushed forward for an independent state for the Muslims. Subhas Chandra Bose had joined hands with Japan and were pressing forward along India’s Eastern border. Each day was recorded in the annals of history and each day was making a history of its own. read more

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Taj Mahal the architectural marvel

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Taj Mahal is one of the greatest buildings on Earth, a masterpiece of architecture and artistic taste and a wonder which has for three centuries  marveled travelers from all round the world. The Taj is  the tomb of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s wife Mumtaz Mahal whose original name is Arjumand Banu Begam and was a much adorable wife of the Emperor.  After her death in 1631 the Emperor was left broken hearted and he would  make her name immortal in the annals of history by constructing the most elegant tomb ever built on Earth.  Rauza-i-Munavvara or the tomb of light, today known as Taj Mahal. That is why Taj Mahal has become a sign of love and the supreme achievement of Mughals who one and half century ago were nothing but desert nomads. And yes the Taj is a desert nomads dream upon Earth and it will stand tall and graceful to bedazzle the onlookers as time goes by. read more

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The cosmopolitan Cossimbazar

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Before I go on to the discussion regarding the Dutch and English cemeteries of Cossimbazar I would like to start with an introduction of the place Cossimbazar itself. The best literature on this is in the book  ‘Murshidabad’ by L.S.S O’Malley of Indian Civil Service. I will not rephrase his account but simply put all that he had written of Cossimbazar. My opinions and comments will creep in, marked in red.

Even before the city had been given its name, Cossimbazar was a great emporium attracting the trade of lower Bengal, and the Europeans Nations who traded to India had established factories in it. It even gave its name to the surrounding country, for the triangular tract enclosed by the Padma, Bhagirathi and Jalangi was known as the Cossimbazar Island, while the common name for the Bhagirathi in its records, down to the nineteenth century, was the Cossimbazar River. read more

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