Of chanda and dhanda, and differences, if any

pujab

Puja Bhattacharjee | November 8, 2012



With Kali Puja (Diwali for the uninitiated) merely a week away, ‘chanda’, or donation, collection has gained momentum, taking near-menacing proportions. On my way to Kornagarh last Saturday, we were stopped several times by local youths. Though I did not pay, local matadors ferrying staff to and fro were made to pay up. Even little children were assisting in the collection.

Locals have made makeshift bumpers using metal pole and wet mud to slow vehicles down. At places, they simply block the road with a bamboo pole. Although the people do not force you to pay chanda, a few such blockades along the way can be a bit unnerving — many unwilling to open their wallets also part with some money.

In Gowaldi village, I meet a youth who says he is involved in chanda collection. A student of Gowaldi high school, he will appear for his secondary exams. He seldom seems to study, though — both times I visited his village I found him hanging out with his friend and playing loud music. He says for higher secondary education he will have to move to either Satpati or Pirakata high schools, as Gowaldi high school is only up to class X.

Right now he is taking a break from studies for the upcoming Kali Puja. He is associated with the local ‘chanda’ collection, and admits the police do chase them away at time. Asked what percentage of the collected money he gets to keep, he assures me that all of it is used for the festival — “to give joy to others”.

Like our high school friend in Gowaldi, most youths I have seen so far appear to lack the initiative to aim and work toward a better life. They just get sucked into the daily grind and cannot seem to fight against what they seem to consider fate. They are, in fact, resigned to their fate — as labourers, as farmers, as housewives, and as young girls about to be married.

If only people dreamed more, they would be able to achieve more.

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