checkpoint hoogly (v.2) : with dr. rakini devi

Dr. Rakini Devi , Purna Chandra Daw’s Radharaman Jiew Temple & Culture Monks are happy to present Checkpoint Hoogly (Version 2).

Checkpoint Hoogly is an interdisciplinary arts project which deals with history of immigration from India, religion, gender and politics.

The first version of Checkpoint Hoogly dealt with the Indo – Canadian history.

Details of the second version is as follows :

Date : January 20, 2019

Time : 3 pm – 5 pm

Place : Purna Chandra Daw’s Radharaman Jiew Temple
(The Rashbari Garden House)
6, Kakeswar Tolla Lane,
Bally, Howrah,
West Bengal – 711201

Entry is Free & Open to All

Curator’s Note

Checkpoint Hoogly,  is situated at the intersection of shared history of India & Australia, gender and religion.

It’s a return, a circuitous root back to the roots to re – visit memories and to find oneself in a a familiar space but with a new consciousness.

This presentation by Dr. Rakini Devi & Culture Monks is situated at the historic site of Purna Chandra Daw’s Radharaman Jiew Temple in Belur, on the banks of the river Hoogly.

Dr. Rakini Devi was born in Kolkata (then Calcutta) and is an Australian citizen.  She is a trained Bharatnatyam and Odisha dancer. She has adopted performance art as her practice and her works have been deeply influenced by Kali – the feminine deity of enormous power and intrigue.

As she returns to her roots – physically and metaphorically, she is coming back once more to a place, where a ship called Hoogly, had docked in 1842 to carry prisoners and immigrants to the Tasmanian Port.

Janardan Ghosh’s research has been on the subject of ‘Performance & Shri Ramakrishna’ . Shri Ramakrishna was the priest of Dakhineshwar Kali temple and is one of the philosophers who has left an indelible mark in Indian consciousness. His longing for experiencing divine love led him to path of experimenting with various religious identities and even gender.

As we will be January 20th , just across the iconic Kali temple at Dakhineshwar, in between to the Kolkata port, far away from Tasmania, yet close in our reminiscences of the historical and divine.

Presenting two performances on the evening

Sudipta Daw

Parikrama: Every journey is a pilgrimage by Dr. Rakini Devi

Rakini Devi’s live art performances contextualise her ongoing preoccupation with the Hindu goddess Kali, in order to ask whether religious iconography may be used to engage in cultural activism. Her practice employs iconography as performance practice that transforms the body into what she describes as a “ritual artifact”, in order to explore the body’s relationship with cultural and religious institutions, and the excess and extremes to which contemporary artists have taken this practice. The “iconisation” of the body as site of performance methodology throughout her body of work, also serves as a means to transgress or subvert culturally specific female iconography.

In her 2018 doctoral thesis, Urban Kali, From Sacred Dance to Secular Performance she says,

“Though many aspects of my performances include ritual-like aesthetics, it is not the sole methodology I use. Instead, iconographic performance is how I would define my methodology, using Lowell Lewis’ phrase of “framing the extraordinary”. In addition, his observation that “in general, the point here is that while the form of an event may be partially distinguished from its content, the two cannot be dissociated—that is, one cannot imagine a pure form without content or vice versa” (2013, p. 62), also aligns with my performance practice that seeks to distinguish the “pure form”, or in my case, “tradition”, that encompasses both sacred dance and Hindu ritual. “

At the extraordinary heritage temple site of Rash Bari, situated at the nexus of history, restoration, and the Ganga, Rakini Devi’s site specific work represents the endless cycles of loss and renewal, of departures and returns, of pilgrimage and embodiment of the sacred, of Prakriti, every journey is a pilgrimage.

Rakini Devi

Kolkata 2019

Return to Vrindāvan: A story of eternal longing by Culture Monks

A performance piece based on the travelogue, Dreamtalker, written by a German pilgrim Peter Pannke and the anecdotes of Sri Ramakrishna as a practitioner of rāgānūga Bhakti.

Pannke while traveling through India was struck by the magical land of Vrindāvan where love surpasses all, even faith in God. The devotees crossed their physical boundaries and their inner limits to penetrate regions of the soul that the others would barely acknowledge and portrayed overwhelming emotions: deepest suffering and the greatest joy, an eternal longing, but most of all love. Pannke wrote a couple of poems and a prose piece named “the road of the troubadours” where he shared his views on Vrindāvan, the sadhus, bhaktas and his own experiences.

Sri Ramakrishna, a 19th century Bengali saint is well known for his devotion for Mother Kali and his śākta inclinations. However, a rarely discussed part of his sādhana (religious practice) is his Bhakti for Lord Kṛṣṇa and that too in the most obscure process of rāgānūga Bhakti. Rāgānūga Bhakti is a performative path through which a devotee would meticulously act the roles of the characters of Vrindāvan, preferably the Gopis or Rādhā. They would dress, act and live like those characters and eventually immerse in deep longing for Lord Kṛṣṇa. Sri Ramakrishna practiced the sādhana to such seriousness that he started to menstruate like a woman.

The above mentioned performance piece is an artistic intervention into the world of Vrindāvan and the aesthetics of longing. It is an ecstatic journey towards the transformation of the body, mind and the being itself.

Janardan Ghosh & Pradip Chatterjee

About Purna Chandra Daw’s Radharaman Jiew Temple

” Established by Purna Chandra Daw and his (mother) Kadambini (Debi) in 1872, it is locally known as Daw-er Ghat.

Sister Nivedita is said to have visited the ghat, which now serves as a meeting place for local residents in the evening. By 6pm, one can spot men and women sitting on the cemented steps and enjoying the breeze. Soon, the air is filled with the chime of bells and sound of conch shells as the evening arati begins.

The main temple here is of Radha-Krishna, called Radharaman Jiu by the Daws. Six Shiva temples encircle the rashmancha. The centrepiece is a clock tower with an ancient clock, long defunct. “The temple is run by a trust of the Daw family,” said Binay Chatterjee, the caretaker. “Dol (Panchami Dol) and Rash are celebrated here besides nitya puja (daily worship).”

The Telegraph

7.9.14

Note : The Telegraph article wrongly attributes Kadambini Debi as Kadambani Dasi and Kadamini Debi as the wife of Purna Chandra Daw whereas Kadambini  Daw was the mother of Purna Chandra Daw.

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