Tuesday, November 28

Beijing & Xi'an

Part II of a 2002 trip to China. In Beijing , we look at the Tien An Men area at night, and then the next day head out to climb the Great Wall at Si Ma Tai. From the top, you can see the hills of Inner Mongolia. At Xi'an, we go to the Drum and Bell towers, and to the old Muslim Quarter around the Great Mosque (Da Qingzhen Si) -- where we intrude upon a funeral. We visit the Great Goose Pagoda associated with Huen Tsang (Xuan Zang), local silk-carpet-weaving and jade-carving operations, and also the Banpo Neolithic Village. Next, we trek to the Hua Qing Ming Dynasty Winter Palace, the hills behind which were the backdrop for the notorious Xi'an Incident involving Chiang Kai Shek. Thereafter, we visit the famous Terracotta Army of Warriors, returning to Xi'an to watch street life, visit a mall and dine with some Communist Party officials at the famous Da Fa Cheng restaurant. Running time 58 minutes.

Sunday, November 26

Facebook India II

Photos by SMB.

Saturday, November 25

Hong Kong & Shanghai

This video has footage on Hong Kong and Shanghai from a visit to China in 2002. It is a non-interpretive video -- i.e. the soundtrack has music but no irritating commentary from the traveler. In Hong Kong, we look at Victoria Harbor, Nathan Road, office buildings, houses and shops on both Hong Kong side and Kowloon side. At Shanghai, we go to Nanjing Donglu at night and watch the people, the consumer culture at the malls, missionaries at work amongst pedestrians, and even a travelling nighclub set up in a tent -- with hukao-less day-laborers watching Prada-clad young people dance away inside . We also look at the Bund, the Oriental Pearl TV tower; 'old Shanghai' at Julu Lu; the Pearl Market area; Sun Yat-sen's house and so on. This part ends with a boat trip down the Huangpo Jiang to the Chang Jiang (Yangtze Kiang) on a smoggy sun-obscured morning, crossing junks, houseboats, restaurant boats, ferries, shipbreaking yards and an occasional Chinese Navy submarine. Running time 56 minutes.

Monday, November 20


Brad Pitt is chilling out in Varanasi (it can be quite cold at this time of the year), relishing the paan and lassi, playing chess on the steps of the ghats, happy at last to find a place on this planet where no one recognizes him.

The Vishwanath temple and the Ganga are the same, only, since August 21, Bismillah is not there.

Bismillah Khan's ancestors were Bhojpuri court musicians. His father, Paigambar Baksh, was employed in the Dumraon palace by the Raja of Bhojpur, as were his grandfather and great grandfather. When he was born his grandfather exclaimed 'Bismillah!' (In the name of Allah!) when he first saw the infant, that name stuck. In his teens, Bismillah Khan was apprenticed to his uncle Ali Baksh 'Vilayatu', who was attached to the Vishwanath temple in Varanasi as a shehnai player. 'Nai' or 'Ney' is a turko-persian word for flute (Besh No Az Ney), and a shehnai is thus a kingly flute. Its ability to cut stridently through a hubbub made it especially suitable for celebrations and weddings, and it was the culprit behind many a reedy wee-hours caterwaul. It was Bismillah Khan who made the instrument a respectable one; India's independence celebrations in 1947, for example, started with his rendering of Raga Kafi at the Red Fort -- a shehnai recital has since become a 15th August tradition for All India Radio. One of the few times he was able to overcome his fear and mistrust of planes (his prefered transportation modes were trains, and cycle-rickshaws) to perform in Edinburgh, the London Evening Standard declared, in a quote that entered the Oxford English Dictionary, "You are now expected to know about Bismillah Khan and his shehnai."

Last year, a Pakistani acquaintance had asked me in exasperation -- "Where is this composite Indo-Persian culture the chattering liberals in India carry on about? They talk about it, I never see it." A devout Muslim who never missed namaaz, Bismillah considered Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of learning and music, to be his ma. His home court was that most holy of Hindu shrines -- Baba Kashi Vishwanath. When asked why he didn’t move to comfort and fortune in America — like Ravi Shankar, or Zakir Hussain — he plaintively asked, "Lekin main apni Ganga kahan se laaoon?" (But from where will I bring my Ganges?).

My acquaintance will probably say one dead Shia doesn't count. He will also point at APJ Abdul Kalam and caustically wonder if in order to be considered a Good Musalman in India, you have to call Saraswati ma.

At a conference on music, a Hindu musician remarked abrasively: "The problem with Islam is that it has downgraded music." Bismillah Khan replied with a twinkle in his eye: "As you know, sir, most of the best classical musicians of north India are Muslims. Can you imagine what would have happened if Islam had upgraded music?"

I first met Bismillah Khan when he came (in a cycle rickshaw) to play at the SPIC MACAY chapter of my college campus. During his pre-concert talk, he recalled with tears in his eyes how one evening when he was playing by the river, the Goddess Ganga herself appeared in front of him to correct a note, with which his rendition finally became perfect.

Kiran Seth, one of the founders of SPIC MACAY, has written:

I had expected him to be staying at a five star hotel, but when I went there, I found this unshaven man wearing a lungi and a baniyan, sitting on the floor. I had gone to request him to perform for the students. He heard me out, at the end of which he asked, “Par paisa kitna doge? (But how much money will you give?)” When I told him that we had only a small dakshina to offer, he immediately refused. I tried hard to argue with him, but he would not oblige. He said that he had a large family of his own and of his musicians to look after and that he would not perform unless he was paid properly. I had given up and was preparing to leave when he asked me to sit down. He talked to me some more, and realising the genuinity of the effort, finally gave his consent. This gave SPIC MACAY a boost. After that he performed all over India for this movement.

At the SPIC MACAY annual convention at Dehradun in the early nineties, Ustad Bismillah Khan was scheduled to give the concluding recital of the classical music overnight. The whole group had been booked by a train reaching Dehradun, one day earlier. The tickets were waitlisted, but we had contacted the Railway Board to get them confirmed. This did not happen and the group could not board the train at Mughalsarai. We were very taken aback. Many people coming solely to listen to Khan sahib would go back disappointed. In those days, there was only one flight from Varanasi to Delhi (there were no flights to Dehradun), and there were no SUVs. The only way that we could have the whole group reach on time was to fly them down to Delhi and have a matador take them from the airport on a whole night journey to Dehradun. Very hesitatingly, I suggested this to Khan sahib on the phone. His reply was: “Jab hamne vayda kiya hai, hum use nibhayenge (When I have given a word, I will honour it).” He reached Dehradun in the early hours of the morning just in time for his concert. I suggested that we postpone his programme to the afternoon so that he could rest a little. He asked me if people were there in the hall. When I replied in the affirmative, he decided to go straight onto the stage. He gave a memorable concert. “Insaan ki pehchan hai uski zaban.”

If the above does not load properly, try here.

Friday, November 17


Photos by SMB.

Wednesday, November 15

Facebook India

Sunday, November 12


Reuters reports this week on the shaming of shopkeepers into paying taxes:

"Dancing and singing eunuchs are knocking on doors in the Indian city of Patna in a bid to embarrass shopkeepers into paying their taxes. The new shock strategy, in which sari-clad and heavily made up eunuchs accompany officials on their rounds of crowded shopping areas in a country notorious for tax evasion and non-payment, has been declared a success.

"Some paid in cash, while others quickly wrote checks. The shock therapy, which we plan to use sparingly, was a grand success," Atul Prasad, a top official in impoverished Bihar state, of which Patna is the capital, told Reuters Friday.

The novel tax-collection technique kicked off Wednesday, with boisterous eunuchs loudly demanding that mortified shopkeepers pay up -- to the bemusement of scores of onlookers.

Taxmen pocketed 425,000 rupees ($9,570) from defaulters in a few hours.

"People may be afraid of them, but they are very much part of society and are useful," Prasad said, adding that authorities would pay the eunuchs a four percent commission on the total tax collected.

Eunuchs are still common in India, where they live in closed-knit communities. Some are castrated men but others are transsexuals and hermaphrodites who have been ostracized by their families. Also known as hijras, they are widely feared and move around towns and cities in groups and demand money on occasions such as marriage or the birth of a child.

No account of India travels can escape that stock chapter -- hijras. Here's William Dalrymple in the City of Djinns:

Men who become hijras may happen to previously be - in Western terminology - hermaphrodites, transsexuals, transvestites, gay, or plain ol' straight but it looks like many of them share a state of acknowledged 'immediate' impotence that after becoming hijras might turn them into real masters over the forces of procreation. They often perform as dancers on weddings and after a son is born to family; they also work as prostitutes to men, though, and they really are both marginalized and feared/respected at the same time.

'Hijras' -- the term is related to the Arab hegira (cutting of ties, withdrawal) -- are not unique to India. Here's an extended quote on Berdaches:

Alternative gender roles were among the most widely shared features of North American societies. Male berdaches have been documented in over 155 tribes. In about a third of these groups, a formal status also existed for females who undertook a man’s lifestyle, becoming hunters, warriors, and chiefs. They were sometimes referred to with the same term for male berdaches and sometimes with a distinct term—making them, therefore, a fourth gender. (Thus, 'third gender' generally refers to male berdaches and sometimes male and female berdaches, while 'fourth gender' always refers to female berdaches.) Each tribe, of course, had its own terms for these roles, such as boté in Crow, nádleehí in Navajo, winkte in Lakota, and alyha: and hwame: in Mohave. Because so many North American cultures were disrupted (or had disappeared) before they were studied by anthropologists, it is not possible to state the absolute frequency of these roles. Those alternative gender roles that have been documented, however, occur in every region of the continent, in every kind of society, and among speakers of every major language group. The number of tribes in which the existence of such roles have been denied (by informants or outsider observers) are quite few. Far greater are those instances in which information regarding the presence of gender diversity has simply not been recorded.

'Berdache' has become the accepted anthropological term for these roles despite a rather unlikely etymology. It can be traced back to the Indo-European root *wela- 'to strike, wound,' from which the Old Iranian *varta-, 'seized, prisoner,' is derived. In Persia, it referred to a young captive or slave (male or female). The word entered western European languages perhaps from Muslim Spain or as a result of contact with Muslims. By the Renaissance it was current in Italian as bardascia and bardasso, in Spanish as bardaje (or bardaxe), in French as berdache, and in English as 'bardash' with the meaning of 'catamite' — the younger partner in an age-differentiated homosexual relationship. Over time its meaning began to shift, losing its reference to age and active/passive roles and becoming a general term for male homosexual. In some places, it lost its sexual connotations altogether. By the mid-nineteenth century, its use in Europe lapsed.

The use of Hijras to shame is hardly new. Remember Taiyyab Ali, pyar-ka-dushman?

Taiyyab Ali pyar-ka-dushman, hai hai
Ladka aur ladki -- raazi
Phir bhi na mane -- kaazi
Ye zid na chhore, meri dil ko tore
Ye banne na de meri Salma ko meri dulhan ...
Taiyyab Ali pyar-ka-dushman, hai hai.

Taiyyab Ali, enemy-of-love, fie fie
The boy and the girl -- they're willing
But the judge -- he's been stalling
He stays stubborn, he breaks my heart
He won't let my Salma be my lovely bride ...
Taiyyab Ali, enemy-of-love, fie fie.

If the video does not load, try here.

Saturday, November 11

From Pomegranates to Tomatoes

In 50 years, subcontinental tastes seem to have gone from seed to pulp.

Ichakdaana Bichakdaana, daane upar daana,
Chhat ke upar ladki naache, ladka hai deewana
Bolo kya? Anar!

One little seed, two seeds, seed upon seed,
The girl dances on the roof, the boy is enamored
Guess what? A Pomegranate!

(Viewer discretion advised below.)

Tippa dile goila jaibo, ras jato poira jaibo
Duidin pare khaio bandhu, jatan koira raikho
jouban amar lal tomato, hai hai jouban amar lal tomato

Squeeze it and it'll melt, all the wet juice will run...
Wait two days to eat it, friend, keep it with care
My youth's a red tomato, yoohoo my youth's a red tomato.

If these do not load properly, try here and here.

Friday, November 10


As you roll through the UP villages, the number of bore wells (the chug-chug of pumps giving them away) becomes quickly apparent. These did not exist in the late 80s when I regularly traveled in these parts. I am reminded of some data from a recent AID newsletter. In the US, 61 of 64 Coca Cola plants buy their water from the municipalities they operate in. In the US, the municipal water is available in enough volume, and is generally safe to drink, so Coca Cola has to do minimal post-processing. Not so in India; in order to keep costs low you have to operate outside the metros, and there no organization exists to deliver lakhs of liters of potable water every day. If you were to boil river-water that everyone upstream has dumped their wastes in, carbonated drinks would be as expensive as rum. So when Hindustan Coca Cola set up shop in Mehdiganj in Uttar Pradesh, it greased enough palms in babudom to be allowed to extract ground water, for free, naturally filtered through the fine sediment that makes up the acquifer. HCC estimates that it extracts 500,000 litres of ground water daily (though some in the community have claimed it is as high as 2,500,000 litres every day.) You drink it, if you order a thanda in the heartland.

All over India the water tables are falling, typically 1 or 2 feet every decade; but the water table in Mehdiganj has fallen by 18 feet in the last 6 years since HCC set up shop.

With their drinking water wells drying out, the Mehdiganj villagers are increasingly dependent on bore wells and hand pumps for their basic water needs. A hand pump costs Rs. 30,000 to buy and install. Every year, you have to drill 3 feet deeper to find water. Most workers in the village earn Rs 30 per day. 3 years' income could buy a house in the first world, that's how expensive thirst must seem to Mehdiganj.

According to my AID newsletter, in the US, Coca Cola plants use 1.86 liters of water for every liter of soda they produce; in India, since the water is free, HCC uses 3.9 liters for every liter of beverage produced.

HCC claims drought and irresponsible water use in agriculture are the reasons behind the decreasing water table. They started a press campaign to highlight their rain-water catchment projects to replenish the acquifer, and then it was apparently leaked that the goal of this was to only replenish 8% of the water coming out.

A fuller case of the villagers against HCC can be found here.

You can read about all the management awards won by Coca Cola India here.

Thursday, November 9

Four Days

Ye maanaa zindagii hai chaar din kii
bahut hote hain yaaron chaar din bhii

Khudaa ko paa gayaa vaa_iz magar hai
zaruurat aadmii ko aadmii kii

I agree Life is but for four days
Four days, friends, can be quite a bit --

The saint reaches God, but what
man in the world needs, is man in it.

-- Raghupati Sahai 'Firaq' Gorakhpuri

My name is Saleem; Ear Cleaning 15 Rupees; Look the man is taking photos!; The Swallows of Agra.

Wednesday, November 8

Agra and Sikandra

The Mahabharat mentions Agrabana -- Forward Forest -- the likely origin of the name Agra. Looking out over the vast doab chequered with smallholding fields, it is difficult to appreciate that much of North India was heavily forested 4000 years ago, and that a frontier had to be tamed for settlement -- displacing the aboriginal woods-dwelling rakshashas and dasas, torching forests (such as Agni swallowing Khandava), painstakingly uprooting the stumps by hand or with first bronze and then iron implements, removing rocks, digging wells. Thus did settlements spread from Indraprastha to Ayodhya, to Mithila, to Magadha, to Pataliputra, Lakshmanavati and Suvarnagram. The process of wresting bounty from the earth and sons from the wombs of women first threw up gods, then heros, then kings and now there are only men striding ahead of their camels and slender brilliantly-wrapped women in the baking dust.

Claudius Ptolemius (Ptolemy the geographer) is the first to locate Agra by its current name in the 2nd century BCE, as a town east of a NE-SW mountain range named Apokopa or Poinai Theon. A curious name, for Poinai Theon in Greek means Punishment of the Gods. In the Mahabharata, in a listing of the tirthas Arbuda (heard as Apokopa by Ptolemy?) is listed as a place where a cleft was created in the earth due to the wrath of the gods. Once Nandini, the wish-fulfilling cow, was grazing by a lake here, and happened to fall in. The gods were incensed. They sent Arbuda, the celestial cobra, who brought a huge rock on his hood. Arbuda dropped the rock into the lake and it became Arbudachala or Arbuda's Immobile (Mt. Abu). The water from the lake was displaced and a cleft was left in the place, so Nandini was able to amble out. The sage Vasistha, who built an ashram near the cleft with a watchful view of the exposed netherworld, is believed to have performed a sacrifice which led to the birth of four agnikula (born from fire) Rajput warrior clans to protect the earth from demons. To the east of this range (i.e. the Aravallis) is Ptolemy's Agra. For more scholarly discussion on this see Notes on Ptolemy by J. Ph. Vogel, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 13, No. 1 (1949.)

Agra was fortified by Rajput kings such as Raja Badal Singh (1475), and, after their defeat, by the Sultanate. Sikandar Lodhi made it the capital of his empire and laid out the modern city, in the process giving his name to Sikandra. After the defeat of the Lodhis at Panipat, Babur infused cultural practices from Persia and Ferghana into the doab -- laying out formal gardens, minars, deer parks, partridgeries, melon fields and vines. For the next few hundred years Agra witnessed the rise of the pomp and pageantry of three of the 'Great Mughals' -- Akbar, Jahangir and Shahjahan -- all of whom lavished on the city their considerable imperial patronage.

Sikandra is the location of Akbar's tomb, begun by him and completed by his son Jahangir. The gateway is a variation on the Buland Darwaza in nearby Fatehpur Sikri. Endangered Chinkara (black buck) graze and enraged langurs chase each others' tails in the enclosed garden. Inside the bare mausoleum a sad-eyed employee of the ASI sits on the grave of Jalal-ud-din Mohammad The Great, yodeling into the cavernous dome to entertain tourists with an echo, subsequently holding out his hand for 'saheb das rupiya.'

Monday, November 6

Taj Mahal

Taj tere liye ek mazhar-e-ulfat hi sahi
tujhko is waadi-e-rangeen se aqeedat hi sahi

Mere mehboob kahin aur mila kar mujhse
bazm-e-shahi mein gareebon ka guzar kya maane?

Sabt jis raah pe ho satavat-e-shaahi ke nishan
us pe ulfat bhari roohon ka safar kya maane?

Mere mehboob pas-e-parda-e-tash heer-e-wafa
toone satavat ke nishanon ko to dekha hota

Murda shahon ke maqabir se behalne waali
apne taarek makanon ko to dekha hota

An-ginat logon ne duniya mein mohabbat ki hain
kaun kehta hai ke sadiq na the jazbe unke

Lekin unke liye tash heer ka samaan nahin
kyonki woh log bhi apni hi tarah muflis the

Yeh imarat-o-maqabir yeh fasiile yeh hisar
mutal-kul-hukm shahenshahon ki azmat ke sutoon

Daaman-e-dehar pe us rang ki gulkari hai
jisme shaamil hai tere aur mere ajdad ka khoon

Mere mehboob! unhe bhi to mohabbat hogi
jinki sannai ne baqshi hai ise shakl-e-jamiil

Unke pyaron ke maqabir rahe be-naam-o-namood
aaj tak un pe jalai na kisi ne qandiil

Yeh chamanzaar, yeh Jamna ka kinara, yeh mahal
yeh munakkash dar-o-deewar, yeh mehraab, yeh taaq

Ek shahenshah ne daulat ka sahara lekar
hum gareebon ke mohabbat ka udaya hai mazak

Mere mehboob kahin aur mila kar mujhse.


Even if the Taj for you is a symbol of great love
even though you prefer its pretty colorful setting

My dear, meet me somewhere else.
what truck can the poor have with kingly courts?

The paths on which are seared the grandest Royal Arms
how can love-filled hearts journey on them?

My dear, behind the veil of this advertisement of love
had you seen the trappings of royal power and wealth

Instead of being beguiled by the tombs of dead kings
had you seen our dark homes

Uncounted peoples in this world have loved
who says their love was not true

But they did not have the means for advertising love
they were poor like us

This mausoleum, these decorations, these fort parapets
that the arrogance of kings considers symbols of Greatness

On the face of the world this is a decoration of floral vines
that has flowing in it your ancestors' blood, and mine

My dear! they must have had loves too
those whose art granted this monument its acclaimed form

But those loves' tombs are unnamed, untraced
no one has ever lit on them even a candle

This garden, this Jamna riverbank, this palace
these picturesque walls and doors, these pulpits, these arabesques

A king of kings aided by all his wealth
has mocked the love of us poor

My dear, meet me somewhere else.

-- Abdul Hayee 'Sahir' Ludhianvi.

Sunday, November 5


On the fringes of Kolkata, Shani worship is making a comeback.

A number of aspects of local cultlike deities have been projected onto 'borthakur' (i.e. 'big deity', for Shani's name is best not taken directly). Most of the devotees are poor women -- household maids, rickshaw pullers' wives, pavement dwellers -- who all greatly fear the evil eye in their precarious lives. For those of who you want to know if India is Shining, visit one of these Shani shrines on the noonday of a borthakur rite and see a yardful of crones in fearful supplication.

Shani - Saturn - is a son of Sun by his second wife Chhaya (shade). Yama, one of the children of the Sun's first wife Sanjana, became angered with Shani and struck him in the knee. Thus Saturn walks with a limp, and is the slowest of the celestial movers. Chandra the moon stays in each zodiac (background of fixed stars) for 2-3 days, Surya the Sun for a month, Mangal (Mars) for 45 days, Brihaspati (Jupiter) for 13 months, but sanaischara (slow moving) Shani takes a full 30 months to limp across each zodiac. Shani entering Rohini bodes disaster. (Rohini is a vedic asterism, its main star is Aldeberan in the constellation Taurus.)

Of the 9 navagrahas -- primary celestial beings -- Shani is the most sinister and, well, saturnine. Shani is the karak, or instigator, of longevity, misery, sorrow, old age and death. He is associated with ignorance and loss of awareness, which can also mean a loss of awareness of the material plane. In that sense Shani is also ascetic with a rich mine of inner spirituality.

Who Shani does not break, he makes. Those in favor with Shani get from him ambition, power, and a slow, canny determination to prevail. The legend of Shani also intersects with another aboriginal deity of India, Hanuman. Hanuman was instrumental in releasing Shani from the clutches of Ravana. A sure antidote to shani-dasha (falling in the clutches of Saturn, i.e. a string of bad luck) is to worship Hanuman on a Saturday. In other words, Hanuman is a symbol of selflessness, while Shani is symbolic of ego and pride; to counter the malefic karma borne of selfish action, one must inculcate humility like Hanuman.

A king setting up a market guaranteed that he would purchase anything that remained unsold. One day a blacksmith brought an iron image of Shani. Alas, no buyer could be found for this malefic icon. The king bound by his promise took the image of Shani to his palace and installed him along with the other household gods. The next day, Lakshmi bid adieu to the monarch -- she would not share premises with someone as sinister as Shani. The riches of the kingdom went with Lakshmi and the king fell on hard times. One by one, the other gods, too, left -- with Kartikeya went military might; with the Ashwini twins gaiety and entertainment; with Dharma went the moral compass of the subjects, who started to fall upon each other. Finally, only Satya -- Truth -- was left. Why don't you leave too? asked the other gods. I can't, said Truth. In keeping his word to the blacksmith the king has become protected by me. In forsaking the king, O gods, you are forsaking one who lives by Truth, said Satya. A shamefaced Dharma returned to the king's household. In his trail came Lakshmi, and then one by one all the other gods and goddesses, restoring the kingdom to splendour and glory.

Saturday, November 4

Tell me, O Tara

Bol Ma Tara, Dnarai Kotha? Tell me, O Tara, Where do I stand -- starts a famous Shyama Sangeet. This is Kalighat, Kolkata. Street toughs are rigging up power for the lights displays for their pandals by (unauthorized, but who cares?) tapping into municipal electric lines.

Friday, November 3


The traditional Durga Puja is 'akalbodhan' -- an untimely invocation -- of the ten-armed demon-slaying Goddess to fight the forces of darkness. Before Durga Puja and Kali Puja became institutionalized in September-October, the Goddess was worshipped at different points in the harvesting cycle as a more benevolent fertility mother -- Basanti or Spring in March, and Jagaddhatri or Universal Mother in November. Jagaddhatri is, then, a more benign Shakti -- traditionally modeled with four arms instead of ten.

In spite of the akalbodhan Durga Puja being more recent in practice, the shastras still put it in greater signficance temporally. According to the Puranas, the gods became very proud at the end of the defeat of Mahisasura. They considered the victory to be due to the weapons they had lent Durga. One day Brahma appeared in front of them as a yaksha. The gods started boasting of their powers -- Vayu, for example, carried on about how his gusts could uproot trees. The yaksha put a little cup of water on the grass and challenged Vayu to blow it away. No amount of puffing by the wind god could ripple the cup. The gods were chastened to be reminded of the Supreme Force that rules over all -- and worshipped this Force as Jagaddhatri.

It would seem that various forms of the Goddess were in traditional worship right on down from prehistory; but as that traditional society in Bengal was ground down into impotence by arbitrary, cruel and violently patriarchical Turko-Afghan rule, the Durga form as a destroyer of usurping demons, and the Kali form as a vengeful protecting mother, gained appeal, though the other forms did retain some local followings. Jagaddhatri is mentioned in Krishnananda Agamvagisha's Tantrasara as an established deity. The zamindars of Chandannagar patronized Jagaddhatri in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the worship of a towering Jagaddhatri still anchors tourism in Chandannagar.

(Jagaddhatri picture at College St. courtesy of www.shunya.net.)