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Photographer's Note

Two little girls frolicked around a mud hut. They looked like sisters, and would not have been more than 10 years of age. The mud hut structure is typical of rural West Bengal (my home state). The mask hanging on the outer wall is used for Chhau, a mask dance, performed in certain areas of West Bengal. Made of clay and paper, these maskes are produced by a particular group of people who have been engaged in this business for generations. The masks help the dancers to portray different characters for instance Gods, Goddesses, demons, monsters and animals like the lion, tiger, bear, monkey. Chhau was originally performed on the occasion of the sun Festival towards the end of the month of Chaitra (March-April) in Bengali Calendar. The festival continued for about one-and-a-half months till before the sowing season which indicates it was interlinked with the social and economic life of the Bengal farmer.

The girl was all attention as she fiddled with a rope. Seeing me taking her picture, she called her sister, they looked like twins to me. They giggled & burst out in laughter as if this was something funny. When I asked them in Bengali (chanced my luck actually), I could see a surprise on their faces..."Huh, He is a Bengali!!!" They said to each other with bemused expressions on their faces. Now it was my chance to smile back at them :-)

Picture taken in Surajkund Fair, held in the state of Haryana, a long way away from West Bengal…reason enough for me to feel nostalgic.

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Additional Photos by Angshuman Chatterjee (Angshu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7851 W: 324 N: 16060] (56760)
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