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Title : ANTI-MIRACLES SHOW BY THE RATIONALIST: THE HOOK-SWING RITUAL OF THE 'GAJAN' FESTIVAL
Description : 'Gajan' or 'Charak' is a traditional Bengali festival celebrated mainly in the rural areas of Bengal. A festival dedicated strictly to penance. It is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly in West Bengal (State of eastern India). It is associated with such deities as Shiva, Neel and Dharmathakur. The word 'Gajan' in Bengali comes from the word 'garjan' or roar that 'Sannyasis' (hermits} emit during the festivities. Alternatively, the word Gajan is considered a combination of parts of two words - 'ga' is from the word gram meaning village and 'jan' is from the word 'janasadharan' meaning folk. In this sense 'Gajan' is a festival of village folk. Especially the rural people of Bengal participate in this festival. The literal meaning of this Bengali word 'Charak' is 'Spinning like wheel'. The groups of devotees, who take up this 'Brata' or the time bound ritual, have to go through a month long fasting from sunrise to sunset, live strictly on fruits and perform the daily worship in order to get the blessings of the lord Shiva. Body piercing and Hook-swing from bamboo poles, the height ranging from 10 to 15 feet, are the primary and foremost part of this 'Charak' festival. In this era of modern science and technology; the worshipers do not fear to accept pain in the name of their blind religious faith and fanaticism. As the devotees escape unhurt, they believe it is a 'miracle' or 'supernatural' and blessing of their 'god' keeps them safe. Here in this video clip, a brave rationalist youngster of West Bengal exposed the 'miracle' of Hook-swing ritual practiced by the 'Gajan' hermits. The video clip is from the film "Guru Busters", a popular documentary produced and directed by the British film maker Robert Eagle, portrayed Indian Rationalists exhibiting and teaching many apparently "supernatural" stunts such as levitation, flesh piercing, live burials, fire walking etc. This documentary film, about the Indian Rationalists' movement to obliterate superstition, religious hoax and quackery in India, provoked controversy with its vivid depiction of the activities of leading Indian rationalist campaigners. It showed that the alleged miracles of India's god-men are little more than a magician's petty tricks. The film was broadcast on Channel 4, BBC, UK, in the year 1995.
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