America’s New War, and Our New Year.

air-force-usa-bombing
Trump’s new war on Syria is immoral and illegal.

USA is not the world’s police, and nobody attacked USA. Trump wants to distract people from his imminent filthy problems, and that’s why the new war. And even if the bombing stops, that is no reason to believe U.S. has the right to invade and bomb other countries, whenever they like. They have been doing it for ages, since WWII — on various excuses. It’s outrageous. And as always, they have U.K. and France on their side. ONLY THEM.
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With that strong note of resistance, I’m writing about something totally different.
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April 14, and sometimes April 15 — based on the lunar calendar — is New Year’s Day in many parts of India — in various, spectacular forms. I am not an expert, but I know it’s celebrated in Bengal, Orissa, Assam and Punjab — under various names. We Bengalis call it Pahela Baisakh (the first day of Baisakh). Baisakh is the first summer month.

Our Old World New Year’s Day used to be celebrated with much fanfare — some places with flying kites, wearing new ethnic dresses (saris and kurtas in West Bengal and Bangladesh), fantastic masks and colorful costumes, AND social and religious gatherings around small sweet and samosa shops, garment tailoring shops, hair styling saloons, Indian-Chinese restaurants…or tiny goldsmith garages — you can imagine the rest…in a hugely crowded city like Calcutta, or Dhaka. People laugh unnecessarily this day, and they do it a lot. Believe it or not, they also hug each other.

Music and poetry is big — last time I checked — in both Bengals. In Bangladesh, the precious, silvery Hilsa (“Ilish”) fish features any menus, in major delight of the revelers.
Hilsa

These are places where new accounts would be officially inaugurated with sweets and fruits (ras gollas, mangoes and bananas in particular), and old accounts would be closed: all borrowed money paid up and off today (hopefully). Of course, thanks to corporate capitalism Wall Street and Wal-Mart style, they drove most small shops out of business, and those still in business would be out of business very soon. And India doesn’t have banks in most places, but its government has forced everybody to go plastic instead of cash, and it has caused havoc, beyond belief. But that’s another story.

Haalkhata

Of course in the Western world, thanks to what I call “Journalism of Exclusion,”
hardly anybody knows what we the “under-civilized” do, eat, wear, worship, or celebrate. We never existed in human civilization, and we still don’t, unless we are rich, white’ish, snob’ish, and famous — enough to donate enough to big politics, media, or both. Indian civilization to American media means new Wal-Marts, multiplexes, Pizza Huts, KFC’s, Coke, and fancy cars. Well, I believe a vast majority of Indians today think that way too.

(Human rights for the untouchables, the 24/7 rapes and murders of young women and girls, Hindu fanatics killing Muslims in India, and Muslim fanatics killing Hindus in other places — really, these are not fun stories for media or the mass: so, why bother? They tell us to be happy, and never question.)

But this Old World, forgotten civilization with its “Journalism of Exclusion” celebrations of its New Year’s Day — in some disorganized, unrehearsed, sometimes hilariously chaotic ways, keeps celebrating its history, language and cultural traditions — with absolute disregard and disrespect for the corporate media’s lack of inclusion. In fact, the people — more than one-sixth of human population — all know very well that an American-variety corporate capitalism and its sold-out politicians and media are slowly but surely crushing them to death. Some know it directly — for example the small sweet shop that ran its business for four generations, and now is about to be extinct because a big chain Reliance supermarket is selling fancier cakes and chocolates that younger people like a lot (and nobody questions what kind of sugar or preservatives were used, or how some child slaves harvested the chocolate — it’s not a part of human consciousness anymore).

But, still, ordinary people — with or without the knowledge of this new, crushing-them-to-death global corporate economy — keep celebrating their colorful, musical, food-and fun-filled social and religious celebration of their own New Year’s Day, the way many generations before them did it.

A story that I told you just now — would NOT be featured on tomorrow’s CNN, NBC, New York Times, or Wall Street Journal.

We don’t wish a Happy New Year, in case you want to know. It’s Naba Barsha in Bengal, Baisakhi in Punjab, Bisuba in Orissa, Bihu in Assam, and so on. We refuse to be a part of a media-dictated global cultural conformity.

I don’t know about you, but I am very, enormously happy to be that way.

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Bangladesh celebrates New Year

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