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‘Footfalls echo in the memory’: displaced Durgas and migrant forms

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‘Footfalls echo in the memory’: displaced Durgas and migrant forms

Durga Puja is one of the biggest Hindu festivals of India, an annual event most widely and exuberantly celebrated in and around Kolkata. On display at the popular Barisha Club ‘pandal’ (pavilion for the installation of idols for religious festivals) in Kolkata through the second week of October was a Durga and her entourage: named ‘Bhaager Ma’, ‘the mother of divisions’ – or perhaps ‘the mother, parcelled out’. Durga the Mother Goddess is depicted as a disoriented, terrified refugee, sitting with her four children, clutching on to her last belongings, in the limbo of a detention centre marked by a cage located in a no-man’s land between the borders of India and Bangladesh. Behind her, a grey screen plays a video showing a muddy patch quivering with footprints hastily left by stealthy feet, big and small, as they fall at night. The footage is uncannily similar to the footfalls visible on YouTube since the BBC published its report of 12 October on Afghan refugees frantically fleeing the Taliban across the Iran-Turkey border, leaving marks on the rough ground as they ‘[sneaked] across’ in desperate hurry (Orla Guerin), while Turkey tightened controls.



migration and art

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HUmanities Underground

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