Ipsita Roy Chakraverti
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The Golden Ankh Book and Film Club



Press Articles

2013

THE WITCH AND THE SPIRITS

Courtesy | Open Magazine | 10 August 2013 |

Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, India's first 'out' witch, describes her first brush with the supernatural as one that didn't make sense when it happened. “I would observe the visitors who came to my house and would be surprised to see that I could see another print on their faces”, says Chakraverti over the phone from Kolkata‘ “I was to realise later that I could see their past lives. I think my attunement with nature was always there.” She has grown acutely conscious of being surrounded by the supernatural since then.

Recently, she had to let go of her dog Kalu. It was suffering old—age illnesses. But even after it died, she says it continued to follow her around. “I would often see its paw prints on the floor leading to my study and smell its wet fur next to me,” in her words. “Outsiders would comment on the paw prints as well.

The dog was as attached to me as I was to it. I feel that it never really left me. It may not have been my first encounter with the supernatural, but to my mind it was one of the most touching. It also proved that just like humana animals have spirits too.”

Wiccan high priestess, Chakraverti is out with her third book, Spirits I Have Known, published by HarperCollins. Before this, she wrote Sacred Evil, which talks about her time as a Wiccan healer, and Beloved Witch, her autobiography. Spirits is a collection of Chakraverti's case files: the story of an ageing actress obsessed with a mannequin replica of herself, a grieving husband trying to contact his wife's spirit, a young woman haunting a famous hotel in Purl, among others. Many of these cases Chakraverti picked up from her travels around the country, trying to help people out, be it people who felt haunted or women ostracised on allegations of occult practices. In Beloved Witch, she talks about village women being branded ‘witches’ and burnt to death. “Most areas [in India] are male dominated. and various lobbies, including politicians, use superstition to play upon the vulnerabilities of rural people.” says Chakraverti.

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Wiccans believe in pagan gods and the ritual practice of magic. At a young age, Chakraverti had sensed she was different, but didn‘t let it faze her. She says she had a strong sense of selfhood, of a superiority drawn from her “background, intelligence, looks and special abilities". Her mother was of a royal family and her father was a diplomat. It exposed her to subcultures in other parts of the world. She was drawn to the Wicca in Canada and realised that this was her calling. In 1986, she declared herself a Wiccan witch. “The Wicca taught me that my mind was more focused than others. I could align myself with natural forces, which gave me an edge over other people. I could exert an influence over a person if I so desired. At the same time, I had in me a certain detachment which made me indifferent to thingsSome of the stories in Spirits are as startling as they are engrossing. ‘The Spirit Machine” is about a gadget designed to communicate with the world of spirits. “Almost a hundred years ago.” she says. “Thomas Edison had allegedly invented [this] machine. He considered it part of the natural. It reaches out to another dimension. It picks up soundwaves and voices from the other side. And we are not imagining it.” A few years ago in Kolkata, Chakraverti had used this machine to check if the claim was correct. More recently, she tried to recreate its components for an experimentin contacting the supernatural.

The story titled ‘Mannequin' is especially dear to Chakraverti. In it, the ageing actress who is obsessed with staying young takes to an ancient Hebrew craft. She creates a Golem to bring her youth back. But instead, it unleashes sinister powers. “I finally had to intervene to help her ground herself and help her unleash herself from the vicious circle she had got herself into,” she says. The Golem is also present in another story, a Slavic folktale called ‘The Clay Boy“; a lonely couple fashion a child out of clay. The child does not stop growing, eats all their food. livestock, and then the parents.

In Kolkata, Chakraverti runs the Wiccan Brigade, which offers lessons on Wiccan philosophy and how to use them for larger purposes. This way, she and her students aim to eradicate superstition. “In Brigade, I have started a wing for psychic investigation," Chakraverti says."We have visited spots in the country considered haunted, including Bhangarh [a fort said to be haunted] in Rajasthan. We attempt to find out the truth behind myths. Our work is not only to investigate but also analyse and sift the truth from gimmickry. We follow the path of mystics like Sri Aurobindo as well as scientists such as Edison. I know many orthodox organisations are outraged that anything Wiccan can be so ‘scientific'. It takes the Wind out of their superstitious sails."

Chakraverti has faced flak ever since she declared herself a witch a quarter century ago. The Chief Minister of West Bengal at the time, Jyoti Basu, even led protests against her. Her second book was made into a movie starring Sarika called Sacred Evil. Before its release, a petition was filed with the Censor Board that called the certificate it was granted ‘unethical'. But according to Wikipedia, the Board let the film pass, saying, ‘We are very careful when we screen sensitive movies. But. there is nothing in the movie that is objectionable, or will hurt the sentiments of the community in question."

Recently, Chakraverti had a spat with Ekta Kapoor over the representation of a witch in the Balaji-produced film Ek Thi Daayan. “It showed women in a superstitious and degrading light, and those women were being called witches. It was promoting superstition, which is already a bane in our country and its initial promos were calling these ‘true life' incidents, which was later changed to ‘fictional’. In a country where the National Crime Records show more than 800 women killed as between 2008 and 2012, I felt it was irresponsible of the filmmakers to project women in [such] demeaning light... As a person who has studied and lived the true Wicca [life], I could not permit this.”

Asked if the supernatural has ever scared her, she says. “No.” It is the real world and its evils that scare her. She just wants her readers to know that the supernatural is part of our daily lives. “Spirits co-exist with us at all times. The dimensions are blending and overlapping. There may be a spirit sitting next to you right now.”

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ENCOUNTERS WITH SPIRITS

Courtesy | T2 The Telegraph, Guwahati | Atifa Deshamukhya | 2nd August 2013 |

She's got all that it takes to make one sit up and take notice.

Here is a woman poised between the ancient and the modern, taking up cudgels for the much- maligned world of witchcraft, daring to declare herself a witch. She brings an elite upbringing and education to uphold her beliefs and practices and tears down scepticism with references garnered from the works of revered masters of science like Thomas Edison. That's Ipsita Roy Chakraverti for you.

Having established her credibility as a practising witch, and with two successful earlier works, Sacred Evil: Encounters with the Unknown and Beloved Witch: An Autobiography , it is only to be expected that her newest offering, Spirits I Have Known should intrigue, entice and excite, right from the word go.

In nine of the stories, reality and imagination intertwine and merge. The dominant persona of the author is there all along, etching out " a pattern in the loom," even as she points out the everlasting, underlying patterns that imbue all experiences, in life and beyond it. There are pithy sparks of wisdom, as in Mannequin : " I hoped the truth in Aleya's case too would come from another plane.

Perhaps another dimension, for we do not know how and from where our minds receive thoughts and the truth." The references to real locales, the Dhakuria lakeside in Calcutta, to actor Waheeda Rehman as an apostle of graceful ageing, all serve to set the tone and tenor of Spirits I Have Known as realistic, thus drawing the interest of the modern reader.

The female Id takes centre stage, as protagonist, mainly, or as narrator and spectator. Deft descriptions range from the lyrical to the poetic to the downright horrifying.

Trapped gives one goosebumps, what with the apparition of Devyani materialising out of nowhere, flashing scary ../images and listlessly inhabiting the middle zone. Her malice and sheer ease as a ghost haunting a hotel in Puri is spinechilling.

Her appeal, " Let me be in peace. I am where I want to be. I don't need to cross over to the light, the dark, or any other place. I have found home," is poignant with mixed emotions of fear, hatred, helplessness, and hopelessness.

Each story in Spirits I Have Known has a distinct flavour. Mannequin takes up issues like ageing and making love to a spirit. The next two stories are woven around the world of superstition and scientific study, with dollops of horror thrown in. There is delicate imagery and animal- human transformation in Guardians ; the question of split personality in Tea for One ; magical machinations in the Crossroads ; an out- of- body experience and spirits wafting in and out of a nearly inanimate body in Chinar and old world intrigue in Revenge . Spirits I Have Known has horror take on diverse hues and tones. At times, though, the dialogues appear stilted; and some twists and turns in the narrative feel labored. Yet, for those interested in the supernatural, as most of us are, Spirits I Have Known is just what the doctor ordered. It leaves one asking for more.

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Thomas Edison's 'Spirit Machine' brought back to life

Courtesy | www.pbd.in | Nikhil Agarwal | Cuttack | 14 July 2013 |

A Wiccan priestess here has claimed to have successfully experimented with a replica of the controversial 'Spirit Machine' which is believed to have been devised by Thomas Edison to communicate with spirits.

In her new book 'Spirits I have known', enchantress Ipsita Roy Chakraverti says Edison, the famous American inventor credited for inventing the motion picture camera and the phonograph, had also come up with a 'spirit machine' of which little is known.

A probable of the machine, which the author brought from the US, has a photoelectric cell that can register the slightest presence of ethereal mist or spirit activity when a strong beam of light strikes its active surface. An accompanying phonograph-like box records and playbacks spirit voices. It is widely believed that Edison and his assistant Dr Miller Hutchinson were working to build a machine to achieve spirit communication but little is known whether they were successful or not.

"Edison's instruments worked at a frequency that would be able to pick up the waves at which spirits were detectable," writes Chakraverti.

The author, considered an authority on the supernatural, says using the device she recently conducted a successful experiment in her physic lab in Kolkata when a lawyer approached him to contact the spirit of his dead wife.

"I wanted to conduct the experiment, but in private. My students and I were a small group, pioneers in the field of psychic research in India. I did not wish this area of study to turn into a gimmick. If the general public found about the machine, there would be a deluge of people pleading to contact the other world," she writes in the book published by Harper Collins.

The author, an expert in western witchcraft tradition and the Indian science of 'Dakini Vidya', says she has been researching Edison papers and other journals of the time which talked of his theory on the supernatural.

"The great scientist had strongly believed that if we ever succeeded in establishing communication, it would be by scientific means," Chakraverti says adding that he believed that our bodies were made up of thousands of entities.

"When the physical body died these entities left, they departed but did not die, surviving as 'life-units' which could be communicated with," writes the author of two other books on supernatural 'Sacred Evil' and 'Beloved Witch'.

The book, priced at Rs 350, is a collection of nine gripping tales of true encounters between the supernatural and the Wiccan therapist.

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Edison’s ‘Spirit Machine’ brought back to life ?

Courtesy | Asian Age | Nikhil Agarwal | PTI | Kolkata | 08 July 2013 |

A Wiccan priestess here has claimed to have successfully experimented with a replica of the controversial “Spirit Machine” which is believed to have been devised by Thomas Edison to communicate with spirits.

In her new book ‘Spirits I have known’, enchantress Ipsita Roy Chakraverti says Edison, the famous American inventor credited for inventing the motion picture camera and the phonograph, had also come up with a “spirit machine” of which little is known. A probable model of the machine, which the author brought from the US, has a photoelectric cell that can register the slightest presence of ethereal mist or spirit activity when a strong beam of light strikes its active surface. An accompanying phonograph-like box records and playbacks spirit voices.

It is widely believed that Edison and his assistant Dr Miller Hutchinson were working to build a machine to achieve spirit communication but little is known whether they were successful or not.

“Edision’s instruments worked at a frequency that would be able to pick up the waves at which spirits were detectable,” writes Ms Chakraverti. The author, considered an authority on the supernatural, says using the device she recently conducted a successful experiment in her physic lab in Kolkata when a lawyer approached him to contact the spirit of his dead wife.

“I wanted to conduct the experiment, but in private. My students and I were a small group, pioneers in the field of psychic research in India. I did not wish this area of study to turn into a gimmick. If the general public found about the machine, there would be a deluge of people pleading to contact the other world,” she writes in the book published by Harper Collins,” she said. The author, an expert in western witchcraft tradition and the Indian science of ‘Dakini Vidya’, says she has been researching Edison papers and other journals of the time which talked of his theory on the supernatural.

“The great scientist had strongly believed that if we ever succeeded in establishing communication, it would be by scientific means,” Ms Chakraverti says adding that he believed that our bodies were made up of thousands of entities.

click to view the article

Thomas Edison's ‘Spirit Machine' brought back to life

Courtesy | www.zeenews.india.com | 07 July 2013 |

A Wiccan priestess here has claimed to have successfully experimented with a replica of the controversial 'Spirit Machine' which is believed to have been devised by Thomas Edison to communicate with spirits.

In her new book 'Spirits I have known', enchantress Ipsita Roy Chakraverti says Edison, the famous American inventor credited for inventing the motion picture camera and the phonograph, had also come up with a 'spirit machine' of which little is known.

A probable model of the machine, which the author brought from the US, has a photoelectric cell that can register the slightest presence of ethereal mist or spirit activity when a strong beam of light strikes its active surface. An accompanying phonograph-like box records and playbacks spirit voices.

It is widely believed that Edison and his assistant Dr Miller Hutchinson were working to build a machine to achieve spirit communication but little is known whether they were successful or not.

"Edision's instruments worked at a frequency that would be able to pick up the waves at which spirits were detectable," writes Chakraverti.

The author, considered an authority on the supernatural, says using the device she recently conducted a successful experiment in her physic lab in Kolkata when a lawyer approached him to contact the spirit of his dead wife.

"I wanted to conduct the experiment, but in private. My students and I were a small group, pioneers in the field of psychic research in India. I did not wish this area of study to turn into a gimmick. If the general public found about the machine, there would be a deluge of people pleading to contact the other world," she writes in the book published by Harper Collins.

The author, an expert in western witchcraft tradition and the Indian science of 'Dakini Vidya', says she has been researching Edison papers and other journals of the time which talked of his theory on the supernatural.

"The great scientist had strongly believed that if we ever succeeded in establishing communication, it would be by scientific means," Chakraverti says adding that he believed that our bodies were made up of thousands of entities.

"When the physical body died these entities left, they departed but did not die, surviving as 'life-units' which could be communicated with," writes the author of two other books on supernatural 'Sacred Evil' and 'Beloved Witch'.

The book, priced at Rs 350, is a collection of nine gripping tales of true encounters between the supernatural and the Wiccan therapist.

click to view the article

Thomas Edison's Spirit Machine' brought back to life

Courtesy | www.business-standard.com | 07 July 2013 |

A Wiccan priestess here has claimed to have successfully experimented with a replica of the controversial 'Spirit Machine' which is believed to have been devised by Thomas Edison to communicate with spirits.

In her new book 'Spirits I have known', enchantress Ipsita Roy Chakraverti says Edison, the famous American inventor credited for inventing the motion picture camera and the phonograph, had also come up with a 'spirit machine' of which little is known.

A probable model of the machine, which the author brought from the US, has a photoelectric cell that can register the slightest presence of ethereal mist or spirit activity when a strong beam of light strikes its active surface. An accompanying phonograph-like box records and playbacks spirit voices.

It is widely believed that Edison and his assistant Dr Miller Hutchinson were working to build a machine to achieve spirit communication but little is known whether they were successful or not.

"Edision's instruments worked at a frequency that would be able to pick up the waves at which spirits were detectable," writes Chakraverti.

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एडिसन की मशीन से आत्माओं से बातें करने का दावा

Courtesy | www.navbharattimes.indiatimes.com | 07 July 2013 |

विक्का धर्म की एक पुजारिन ने मशहूर साइंटिस्ट थॉमस एडिसन की 'स्पिरिट मशीन' से आत्माओं से बातें करने का दावा किया है। ऐसा माना जाता है कि आत्माओं से बातचीत करने के लिए थॉमस एडिसन ने यह मशीन बनाई थी। पुजारिन इप्सिता रॉय चक्रवर्ती ने अपनी नई किताब 'स्पिरिट्स आई हैव नोन' में दावा किया है कि प्रसिद्ध अमेरिकी आविष्कारक एडिसन ने 'स्पिरिट मशीन' या 'स्पिरिट फोन' का भी आविष्कार किया था, जिसके बारे में बहुत कम लोग जानते हैं। उन्होंने बताया कि एडिसन का यह उपकरण एक फ्रिक्वेंसी पर काम करता है, जिससे उन तरंगों को पकड़ा जा सकता है जिनकी मदद से आत्माओं का पता लगाया जा सकता है।

ऐसा माना जाता है कि एडिसन और उनके असिस्टेंट डॉ. मिलर हचिन्सन आत्माओं से बातचीत करने के लिए एक मशीन बनाने पर काम कर रहे थे, लेकिन इस बारे में जानकारी नहीं है कि वे इसमें सफल रहे या नहीं। इप्सिता के मुताबिक उनसे जब एक वकील ने अपनी मृत पत्नी की आत्मा से बात करने के लिए संपर्क किया तो उन्होंने इस मशीन का इस्तेमाल करके कोलकाता में अपनी लैब में सफल प्रयोग किया।

इप्सिता ने हार्पर कॉलिन्स द्वारा प्रकाशित अपनी किताब में लिखा, 'मैं निजी तौर पर यह प्रयोग करना चाहती थी। मैंने और मेरे छात्रों के छोटे से समूह ने यह प्रयोग किया। यदि आमजन को इस मशीन का पता लग जाता तो दूसरी दुनिया के लोगों के साथ संपर्क करने का अनुरोध करने वाले लोगों की भीड़ लग जाती।'

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एडीसन की 'स्पिरिट मशीन' के जरिए आत्माओं से बात करने का दावा

Courtesy | www.aajtak.intoday.in | 07 July 2013 |

विक्का धर्म की एक पुजारिन ने दावा किया है कि उन्होंने विवादास्पद ‘स्पिरिट मशीन’ के मॉडल के साथ सफल प्रयोग करके आत्माओं से बात की है. ऐसा माना जाता है कि आत्माओं से बातचीत करने के लिए थॉमस एडीसन ने यह मशीन बनाई थी.

पुजारिन इप्सिता राय चक्रवर्ती ने अपनी नई किताब ‘स्पिरिट्स आई हैव नोन’ में दावा किया है कि प्रसिद्ध अमेरिकी आविष्कारक एडीसन ने ‘स्पिरिट मशीन’ का भी आविष्कार किया था जिसके बारे में बहुत कम लोग जानते हैं. उन्होंने बताया कि एडीसन का यह उपकरण एक आवृत्ति पर काम करता है, जिससे उन तरंगों को पकड़ा जा सकता है जिनकी मदद से आत्माओं का पता लगाया जा सकता है.

ऐसा माना जाता है कि एडीसन और उनके सहायक डॉ. मिलर हचिन्सन आत्माओं से बातचीत करने के लिए एक मशीन बनाने पर काम कर रहे थे लेकिन इस बारे में जानकारी नहीं है कि वे इसमें सफल रहे या नहीं. लेखिका के अनुसार उनसे जब एक वकील ने अपनी मृत पत्नी की आत्मा से बात करने के लिए संपर्क किया तो उन्होंने इस उपकरण का इस्तेमाल करके कोलकाता में अपनी प्रयोगशाला में सफल प्रयोग किया.

लेखिका ने हार्पर कॉलिन्स द्वारा प्रकाशित अपनी किताब में लिखा, ‘मैं निजी तौर पर यह प्रयोग करना चाहती थी. मैंने और मेरे छात्रों के छोटे से समूह ने यह प्रयोग किया. अगर आम लोगों को इस मशीन का पता लग जाता तो दूसरी दुनिया के लोगों के साथ संपर्क करने का अनुरोध करने वाले लोगों की भीड़ लग जाती.’

चक्रवर्ती ने कहा, ‘महान वैज्ञानिक एडीसन का यह मानना था कि हमारा शरीर हजारों तत्वों से बना है. जब शरीर समाप्त हो जाता है तो ये तत्व ही रह जाते हैं. वे शरीर से अलग हो जाते हैं लेकिन समाप्त नहीं होते और उनसे संपर्क किया जा सकता है.’ उन्होंने कहा, ‘उनका मानना था कि अगर हम कभी इनसे संपर्क स्थापित करने में सफल रहे तो यह केवल वैज्ञानिक तरीकों से ही संभव होगा.’

अन्य अपडेट लगातार हासिल करने के लिए हमें फेसबुक पर ज्वॉइन करें. आप दिल्ली आजतक को भी फॉलो कर सकते हैं.

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Bewitched!

Courtesy | Mumbai Mirror | 22nd July 2013 |

She recently captured the diarist’s imagination when she nearly stalled Ekta Kapoor’s supernatural flick, Ek Thi Daayan.

Charismatic Wiccan high priestess and author of the books, Sacred Evil and Beloved Witch, Ipsita Roy Chakraverti is back again - this time with a collection of chilling real-life stories titled: Spirits I have Known. We hear the book has enough reason for certain glamorous residents of the city to be uneasy. Sample this: One of her stories is about an ageing actress who is obsessed with a mannequin replica of herself. Sounds familiar? There’s more. We have it from reliable sources that Ipsita’s sequel to the autobiographical Beloved Witch, which was rich with references to stellar public figures who had sought her magic in their hour of crisis, is slated to hit the shelves early next year. Be afraid, be very afraid!

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TALES FROM A WITCH'S CAULDRON

Courtesy | Mail Today, New Delhi | Barsali Bhattacharyya | 21 July 2013 |

In room number 14 of a well known heritage hotel in Puri ( Orissa), strange and unexplained things have happened for long.

Many young men who stayed in the room met with mysterious deaths, till the hotel authorities sought help from Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, the Kolkata- based Wiccan priestess. What transpired thereafter, between her and the revengeful spirit of a young woman, is one of the many riveting stories in Chakraverti’s latest anthology of stories Spirits I have Known ( Harper Collins; ` 350).

Primarily a roman à clef, Spirits I have Known is Chakraverti’s third work, after Sacred Evil and her much- talked about autobiography Beloved Witch . “ This is not a book of ghost stories.

These are stories of strong and unyielding women, speaking out from this dimension or the next about their interactions with life”, says the 62- year- old Wiccan. “ I’ve often said that every strong woman has the power to be a witch. I’ve met some of these women or have come across their stories and felt the need to share these.

These have been written from my own experiences— you either take it or leave it”, she adds. When asked how she reacts to the naysayers, she says, “ I’ve added a list of books one can refer to in case they find my stories misleading.” Trained in the ancient scriptures and philosophies in a chalet atop the Laurentian mountain in Canada, Chakraverti has braved much opposition and hostility since she returned to India and declared herself to be a witch.

“ When I began my work as a healer, reaching out to injured farmers in Uttar Pradesh or to women in rural Bengal ostracized for being witches, I was often stoned.”, remembers Chakraverti, who is also a social worker, a feminist and a teacher.

That, however, has never stopped politicians, actors and corporate bosses from flocking to her. Besides healing, this beloved witch is also involved in psychic investigations.

One such recent investigation took her to the Bhangarh Fort in Rajasthan, which the Archaeological Survey of India prohibits anyone to visit after dark. “ The paranormal presence in the rooms and corridors of the dilapidated fort has been caught on camera by us. The video we captured show several floating light orbs, which have been associated with psychic presence by western researchers also”, says Chakraverti. She also conducts many psychic experiments during classes and seminars held for the Wiccan Brigade, a group of disciples to whom she dispenses her knowledge of the ancient secrets and traditions.

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HER RIGHT TO LIVE WITH DIGNITY

Courtesy | T2 - The Telegraph | 6th July 2013 |

Why are women still branded and tortured as witches in Indian villages? How have women been portrayed in Indian fiction? Do women have equal opportunities in the hospitality sector? Why should one believe in spirits? Do spirits have a gender? When did the first setback to psychic investigation happen in history? With a panel of speakers seeking answers and exploring possibilities, the launch of Ipsita Roy Chakraverti's collection of short stories Spirits I Have Known , at Taj Bengal last Saturday, turned out to be as exciting as her page- turner.

Each of the 11 stories in the third book from the wiccan high priestess touches upon the thin line where the material world meets the intangible.

They talk of women — young and old, rich and poor, housewives and professionals, in physical bodies and in spirit beings — asserting their right to " live" with dignity.

" Like these women, I too have been assaulted. They have thrown stones at me in the villages. I have been bloodied but I am unbowed," said Ipsita, who has woven a tapestry of emotions, drama, chills and spills in Spirits I Have Known , taking incidents from her case files.

As commissioning editor Neelini Sarkar of Harper Collins said: " It's a spooky read if you want to cuddle up with it." Spooky yes, but " it is not a book on ouija boards or spirit readings", clarified the wiccan healer. " There are many different realities. The poet Wordsworth would often get a feeling that this world is not real and would touch his table to reassure that it was indeed real. This kind of a feeling arose in me as I wrote these stories.... People like Tagore, Sri Aurobindo and Swami Abhedananda believed in after- life. Their works are very precious to me as I carry on into the unknown," added Ipsita.

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ON THE INVISIBLE WORLD IN SPIRITS I HAVE KNOWN

Courtesy | T2, The Telegraph, Kolkata | 24 June 2013 | Reshmi Sengupta

A s I see it, I am alive. You people are not," says Devyani, in spirit form, in Trapped . Is the supernatural world really as alive as our real world? Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, the author of Beloved Witch and Sacred Evil , feels so. The reasons she describes in Spirits I Have Known , a collection of nine stories [ Harper Collins, Rs 350] which has recently hit bookstores . On summer solstice, the Wiccan high priestess tells t2 about the spirits she has known...

Spirits I Have Known feels like it picks up from where your last collection of short stories Sacred Evil left off...

Yes, both have nine stories. But in Spirits I Have Known , all stories except one, Hand of God , have strong women protagonists. This point came to my mind in the last few years, about how women get a raw deal. Even if not through social circumstances, by the way God treats them. They have a very hard life, maybe because they are more sensitive and vulnerable. Since the days of the Persecution ( in Europe), women have had to bear the brunt. More than in Sacred Evil , the women in Spirits I Have Known have seen life and suffered. In each story, they look out for themselves in their own way. They fight back, either in their physical bodies or in their essence. The difference between the two books is that here they are bloodied but unbowed.

In the story Crossroads , you write that ' magic should heal, not harm'. Is this your belief as a practitioner of wicca?

Yes, of course. At the same time, I cannot completely dissociate myself from the women I have written about. What they bring about is justice in some way. But you can always ask, who is to decide what is justice? For instance, the protagonist ( Sitara) in Tea for One is unwilling to take things lying down where evil is concerned. Sometimes you don't get justice through law, sometimes magic lends a hand. That is also healing. In The Spirit Machine , the protagonist has lost her life but she still can get healing. Yet the question remains, how much do we take into our hands? What is morally right or wrong? But if we don't look out for ourselves, who will? Maybe in a way, this is my wiccan philosophy as a writer.

In Crossroads , I also mention that I am not sorry if something has been done through me. See, it is not only about a gender war. It is also about how these women take life head- on. There's a line in Beloved Witch which says ' If God forgets, the witch cannot'. This, you could say, is one of the messages that comes through in Spirits I Have Known . But I have never forced the reader to believe in my views. This is as I have seen it. From the supernatural point of view, it's up to the readers whether they want to believe in it or not.

Of the various supernatural themes you've written about in this book, which do you think is the most complex?

I feel Chinar is more complicated than the other stories. Its theme — one's ability to leave the physical body at will — might be a little difficult to understand. Here, the girl Chinar is not fighting a cruel society but, let's say, fate or cruel circumstances. Her way of dealing with it is to detach from reality. Yet, this is not suicide. Chinar is also turning away from life, as one does when taking one's life, but she has an understanding of life, she has a strange detachment from material life. And the spirit phenomenon of walk- in happens in this story at various levels.

You have written in detail about spirit possession, zombies and shape- shifters. One would be curious to know if they were for real…

These stories do have a dark element. These are incidents that I have taken from my own experiences, my case files and put them down in the story format. A couple of stories were told to me which I have narrated, and the rest I have experienced myself. I have taken liberties of course while writing them, added some locations and settings. But I have recorded the feelings and perceptions as I have received. You've also explained some of these phenomena and cited current research... Yes. Actually, the founding of the Wiccan Brigade and the psychic research we have been doing, the discussions that we have... as a writer, it all made me realise that I want to introduce this aspect too. So the stories here are analytical. For instance in The Guardians ( which deals with shape- shifting), the protagonist Leah experiences an altered state of consciousness, which speaks of an existence of the spirit and the mind.

Do you think psychic research in India has progressed enough?

I feel from Wiccan Brigade, we have done some path- breaking work in India. In the process, it's turning out to be a little academic and that's good. We believe in the work we are doing. But if you compare it with the work being done in the US and UK, we are not yet up to the mark. They have well- known spiritualist associations that are in research work, which shows the kind of respect they give to the spirit world. For instance, the SAGB ( Spiritualist Association of Great Britain) was started by the likes of Arthur Conan Doyle and Oliver Lodge. Some of the topics we are working on, like orbs, are being talked about in science. There's NASA's Space Shuttle programme manager Wayne Hale talking about orbs and UFOs.

Have people's perceptions regarding magic and witchcraft changed since you began work?

Oh yes, it has changed a lot. When I had started working in India ( in the ' 60s), people used to call it witchcraft, not wicca. In Bengali, it was dainividya , not even dakinividya ! ( Smiles) But now there is a healthier curiosity. The interest has shot up and it shows in the number of membership applications we get every week at the Wiccan Brigade. And when some people say negative things about it, there are more people who step in to negate that. That is a very healthy sign.

As a writer, which authors do you love to read?

Well, I am drawn to books that can play with and stimulate the mind. I like Lawrence Sanders. I feel his reading of the human mind is very intuitive. I find Agatha Christie very relaxing and stimulating at the same time. Also, Francoise Sagan. She writes about the French society, does an in- depth study of the mind and explores man- woman relationships, especially from the woman's point of view. These days I mostly read reference books...

You were also writing the second part of your memoir. Is it on the lines of Beloved Witch?

Yes, it will have esoteric material like in Beloved Witch , and my interactions with various personalities 2003 onwards. I am including pages from my Book of Shadows and secrets from my library. I will give out passages from books that I consider very precious and give my interpretation of them as well. A lot of people write to me for advice, especially women, and so I think this book will be useful. In a way, Beloved Witch 2 will also be a culmination of all the questions raised in Spirits I Have Known . Reshmi Sengupta What would you like to ask Ipsita? Tell t2@ abp. in

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Rituparno Ghosh was curious about life after death
Courtesy | Indo-Asian News Service | June 02, 2013 15:27 IST (Kolkata)

 

For master storyteller Rituparno Ghosh, who died on May 30, 2013 , the craft of Wicca - a modern pagan and witchcraft religion - was a "great draw" as it appealed to his intellectual side. The filmmaker also exhibited a pronounced curiosity about "life after death", says renowned Wiccan exponent Ipsita Roy Chakraverti. Rituparno was Chakraverti's first student from the film fraternity.

"He had a strong urge to learn Wicca. He used to often ask me questions about life after death.

"He was doing a lot of research on Rabindranath Tagore, and one aspect of Tagore was experiments in life after death... like planchettes (producing automatic or mysterious written messages giving rise to the belief that it fosters communication with spirits)...

"Not that he was going to do automatic writing, but he was very interested in talking about evidence of survival of the soul," Chakraverti told IANS.

"He was always a part of our programmes... As a speaker, as a participant. (He was) always very interested in learning the craft. In fact, he was my first student from the film fraternity," said Chakraverti.

Dubbed as the pioneer in bringing back the educated middle and upper middle class people to the theatres to watch Bengali movies, Ghosh won 12 national awards and some from international fests for his bouquet of films. (Also read: Bengal's brave young director)

He also got acclaim for acting in movies like Memories in March and wrote scripts which were hailed by the critics.

A patient of pancreatitis, Ghosh died on Thursday following cardiac arrest. He was 49.

Among his laudable Bengali movies were Unishe April, Dahan, Bariwali, Asukh, Utsab, Shubho Mahurat, Chokher Bali, Dosar, Shob Charitro Kalponik and Abohoman.

He made Hindi films Raincoat and Sunglass, and his only English movie was the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer The Last Lear, which even won a National Award.

In 2006, Chakraverti launched the Wiccan Brigade as a platform for those interested in studying Wicca and using the branch of knowledge to holistic effect.

Though Wicca was predominantly practised by women, the Wiccan Brigade welcomes men as well. Ghosh had been associated with it since its inception.

"He was interested in it from the time we began in November 2006. My association with him went back to his school days at South Point. I used to teach English and he was my student. I knew him as a young boy," says Chakraverti.

In later years, he became Chakraverti's student and as a learner, the use of crystals piqued his curiosity.

"These are not the crystal balls...These crystals are used for focus and betterment of mind and body.

"Rituparno was very interested in the use of crystals. He used to bring back crystals from his trips abroad and ask about them. He was very affectionate," said Chakraverti.

The ace lensman was so inspired by the craft which, Chakraverti says, "needs serious study and research" that he wanted to adapt stories narrated by Chakraverti in her bestselling books "Sacred Evil: Encounters With the Unknown" and "Beloved Witch: An Autobiography."

"He wanted to do something from stories in 'Sacred Evil' and a bit from 'Beloved Witch'.

There is a narration of a victimised woman called Sushma in 'Beloved Witch', and he called up actress Jaya Prada in front of me and told her he wanted her to play the role," said Chakraverti.

"I had agreed, but he left too soon. We conducted a prayer session from the Wiccan Brigade the very evening of his death," Chakraverti added.

Terming Ghosh as a "very strong individual" and a "thinking man", the Wiccan priestess says his questions were of an intellectual nature.

"He was drawn by the intellectual aspect and the kind of questions he asked was from an intellectual angle," said Chakraverti.

click http://movies.ndtv.com/regional/rituparno-ghosh-was-curious-about-life-after-death-374288

উইকা শ্যাল ওভারকম
‘উইকা মুভমেণ্ট’ কী? কলকাতার অভিজাত মহলের ফ্যাশন স্টেটমেন্ট না উইমেন এমপাওয়ারমেণ্ট-এর নব হাতিয়ার? কেন ‘এক থী ডায়েন’ – এর বিরুদ্ধে সরব ‘বিলাভেদ উইচ’-এর লেখিকা ইষ্পিতা রায় চক্রবর্তী? দীপ্তা রায় চক্রবর্তী

Courtesy | Sambad Pratidin | 18 April 2013 |

‘‘উইকা’ নিয়ে একটা আবছা ধারনা আছে সাধারনের মনে । ‘উইকা’ কী, এই বিদ্যার সঙ্গে শুভ অশুভর কোনো যোগাযোগ আদৌ আছে কি না এই নিয়ে কল্পনাপ্রসূত নানা ভাবনা কাজ করে মানুষের মনে । ‘উইকা’ হল মানুষের সবচেয়ে প্রাচীন ধর্ম আর এর অতি প্রাচীন শাখা প্রায় ২৫,০০০ বছর পুরনো । একদিকে যেমন অ্যানথ্রোপলজি, পদার্থবিদ্যা এবং জিওলজি এর অন্তর্গত, তেমনিই এই বিদ্যার মধ্যেই পড়ে বিশ্ব-সংস্কৃতি, সাইকোলজি, কম্পারেটিভ রিলিজীয়ন এবং জাদুবিদ্যা । কেবলমাত্র বই পড়ার মধ্যে দিয়ে ‘উইকা’-য় পারদর্শী হওয়া যায় না। এর জন্য প্রযোজন যোগাসন অভ্যাস এবং মানসিক ও শারীরিক শৃংখলা কিন্তূ ‘উইকা’-র ট্রেডমার্ক হল এর ফিলোজফি । যা ভাবতে শেখায় যে, ‘আমাদের কিছূ লাভ করার নেই এবং কিছু হারানোর নেই। জীবনে কোনও কিছুই এত গুরুত্বপূর্ন নয় যা আমাদের সর্বতোভাবে আচ্ছন্ন করে, প্রভাবিত করতে পারে । এবং এই জায়গা থেকে ‘উইকা’ নিজের মুল্য এবং ‘সেলফ এম্পাওয়ারমেণ্ট’ শেখায়।

আমার মা ঈপ্সিতা রায় চক্রবর্তী যখন ‘উইকা’ নিয়ে তাঁর কাজ শুরু করেছিলেন তখন এই পুরুষতান্ত্রিক সমাজে তাঁর পাশে দাঁড়ানোর মত কেউ ছিল না। সে প্রায় চল্লিশ বছর আগের কথা। সে সময় পুরুলিয়ার প্রত্যন্ত অঞ্চলে গিয়ে তিনি প্রত্যক্ষ করেছেন কীভাবে মেয়েদের ডাইনী অপবাদ দিয়ে মারধর করা হ্য়। একবার এমন এক ঘটনায় সাক্ষী থাকার সময় তাঁকে ইঁট পাথর ছুড়ে মেরেছিল গ্রামের লোকেরা। তারপর অনেক সময় পার হয়েছে। মাযের লেখা বই ‘বিলাভেদ উইচ’ পাঠকদের কুসংস্কার অনেকটাই দূর করতে পেরেছে। ‘উইকা’-র অন্তর্নিহিত ভাবনা কে বূঝতে সাহায্য করছে। ‘উইকা মূভমেণ্ট’-এ তাঁর পাশে এখন অনেকেই।

‘উইকান ব্রিগেড’ বিভিন্ন স্তরের মানুষ রয়েছেন। নাথানিয়েল জোসেফ একজন সফ্টওয়্যার ডেভেলপার। তিনি ‘উইকা’-র সদস্যা হওয়ার পর বলেছিলেন, ‘উইকা’ আমার ভিতরে শৃংখলাবোধ তৈরি করেছে। আমি এখন শুধুই সমস্যা দেখি না, তার সমাধানগুলি খুঁজে বের করতে পারি। অভিনেত্রী চান্দ্রেয়ী ঘোষ আমায় একবার বলেছিলেন ‘উইকা’ তাঁকে নিজেকে গভীরভাবে বুঝতে সাহায্য করেছে। ম্যানেজমেন্ট প্রফেশনাল দোলন দত্ত চৌধুরীও জানিয়েছিলেন, ‘উইকা’ কীভাবে তাঁকে জীবনের ইতিবাচক দিকগুলি দেখতে সাহায্য করেছে। প্রতিটা দিন দোলনের কাছে একটা নতুন অ্যাডভেঞ্চার । এই সংখ্যাটা প্রতিদিন বাড়ছে। প্রতিদিন আমার সঙ্গে এই মানুষগুলির দেখা হ্য়। দেবযানী কুমারের নিজের ব্যবসা রয়েছে। ‘উইকা’ তাঁকে অন্তর থেকে শক্তিশালী করেছে। আগামী দিন নিয়ে তিনি আর দুশ্চিন্তা কারেন না। দেবয়ানির মধ্যে বদল এতটাই চোখে পড়ার মতো, যে তাঁর মেয়ে তিথি তাঁকে বলেছে, ‘মা তুমি আগের থেকে আরও সুপ্রতিভ, আত্মবিশ্বাসী হয়ে উঠেছ। পিনাকী বিশ্বাস স্কূলের সিক্ষক। তিনি একবার আমায় বলেছিলেন ‘উইকা’ কিভাবে তাঁর আত্মবিশ্বাস বাড়িয়ে তাঁকে নতুন জীবন দিয়েছে। অঞ্জন দত্ত’র স্ত্রী ছন্দা দত্ত-ও ‘উইকান ব্রিগেড’–এর সদস্য। ছন্দাদি কথায় কথায় প্রায়ই বলেন তাঁর বিশ্বাসের কথা। ‘উইকা’ তাঁকে মানুষ হিসাবে শক্তিশালী করেছে। জীবনে এমন কোনও কঠিন সমস্যা নেই যার সমাধান তিনি করতে পারবেন না। আর এই বিশ্বাসের মধ্যেই তিনি মুক্তি খুঁজে পেয়েছেন। একদিন হাসতে হাসতে বললেন, ‘জানো, অঞ্জন যখন আমার সঙ্গে কথায় পেরে ওঠে না, কোনও তর্ক হেরে জায়ে তখন বলে, ‘তুমি জিতে গেলে কারণ তুমি একজন ট্রু ‘উইকান’। ‘উইকা’ নিয়ে মানুষের অনেক ভূল ধারনা আছে। অশুভ, অন্ধকার, ভুতপ্রেতের সঙ্গে গুলিয়ে ফ্যালেন অনেকেই। সেটা হয়তো দূর হবে একদিন তখন মানুষ বূঝবে যে এই ধর্ম মানুষকে কিভাবে আধ্যাত্মিক নীয়মানুবর্তিতা শেখায়। ডিট্যাচমেন্ট শেখায়। জীবনবোধ পাল্টে দেয়। ম্যানেজমেন্ট প্রফেশনাল সৌভিক দে ঠিক এই কথাগুলিই বলেছিলেন।

জেনারেশান ওয়াই-এর যুগে ‘উইকার’ তাত্পড়র্য বা সাফল্য এখানেই যে এই পথ চলতে গিয়ে আত্মমর্যাদা এবং আত্মসম্মান তৈরী হয়ে যায়। এই মূল্যবোধগুলোর বড় অভাব আজকের দিনে। ‘উইকা’ সেই মূল্যবোধ মূল্যবোধ প্রতিটা ছাত্রছাত্রীর মধ্যে নতুন করে প্রতিস্থাপিত করতে পেরেছে। যেদিকেই তাকাই সেদিকেই মহিলারা আজ নিগৃহীত হচ্ছেন। পুরুষতান্ত্রীক সমাজে মেয়েরা ‘পাওয়ার প্লে’-র শিখার। সমাজের নানা স্তরে একটা ভারসাম্যহীনতা যেন পেয়ে বসেছে। ব্যালান্স-টা আর নেই। তা সে ধনী-গরীব হোক, বা এমপ্লয়ার-এম্প্লয়ী হোক বা নারী-পুরুষই হোক না কেন। কোথাও খূন হচ্ছে, তো কোথাও ধর্ষণ। আমাদের ন্যাশনাল ক্রাইম রেকর্ড বলে, ২০০৮ সালের পর থেকে আটশোরও বেশি মহিলাকে ডাইনি অপবাদ দিয়ে মেরে ফেলা হয়েছে। এই অরাজকতা, কুসংস্কারের মধ্যে দাঁড়িয়েও কিভাবে অন্তর্নিহিত শক্তি দিয়ে লড়াই করা যায়, প্রতিবাদ করা যায়, ‘উইকা’ সেটাই শেখায়ে।

ঠিক এই কারনেই ঈপ্সিতা সম্প্রতি আসন্ন হিন্দি ছবি ‘এক থী ডায়েন’ নিয়ে প্রতিবাদ জানিয়েছিলেন। যেখানে মহিলাকে ডাইনিরূপে দেখানো হয়েছে। এবং ডাইনির এমন একটা ছবি তুলে ধরা হয়েছে যেখানে মনে হবে নিজেদের লাভের জন্য ডাইনিরুপি মহিলারা অশুভ শক্তির দ্বারা অন্যের ক্ষতি করে। যে দেশে ডাইনি অপবাদ দিয়ে মেরে ফেলা হয় সেখানে দাঁড়িয়ে এমন ছবি একটা ভুল বার্তা পৌঁছে দিতে পারে। যেখানে পরিসংখ্যান বলে দিচ্ছে যে, ডাইনি অপবাদে নারীমৃত্যুর সংখ্যাটা বাড়ছে। তবু ইন্ডাস্ট্রিতে এমন অনেক লবী থাকে যারা এই দুঃখজনক মৃত্যু নিয়েও অর্থলাভের উপায় খোঁজে। এইসব কুসংস্কার থাকলে যেন তাঁদের আরও সুবিধে হয় তা হলে তাঁরা কুসংস্কার বিক্রি করে অর্থ উপার্জন করতে পারেন। যে দেশে আমরা আশিক্ষা আর কুসংস্কারের সঙ্গে লড়াই করে চলেছি ক্রমাগত সে দেশেই মহিলাদের দিয়ে কুরুচিকার ছবি হচ্ছে। আর সে দেশেই আটশোরও বেশি মহিলা মারা যাচ্ছেন স্রেফ কুসংস্কারের শিকার হয়। সংখ্যাটা নেহাত কম নয়। তাই না!

লেখক আইনজীবী, উইকান ব্রিগেডের-এর সদস্য

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Sambad Pratidin

Women can’t be portrayed as sex objects, daayans: Wiccan Ipsita
Courtesy | Delhi Times - Time of India | 13 April 2013 | Nupur Chaudhuri

 

Filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj recently said that showing the film Ek Thi Daayan to other bodies (the National Commission for Women) undermines the position of the Central Board of Film Certification. The NCW asked the makers to show the film to them after a complaint was registered by Wiccan priestess Ipsita Roy Chakraverti who alleged that the film is showing women in a derogatory light. Even as the controversy continues and goes back and forth, Ipsita is happy with one outcome: “The secretary of the I&B Ministry has sent a note to the Cabinet Secretary to plan an eventual law that in India, films should have less obscene content, should have no material that is derogatory to women and they should show more respect towards women. They have also mentioned the ‘daayan’ theme so this is a positive outcome so far,” she says.

Tell her that the makers have added a disclaimer that the film isn’t derogatory towards anyone but Ipsita holds her ground and says, “This they have done now. Right from the beginning they were saying it is based on facts. There’s a line in the film where Emraan Hashmi says it is based on ancient texts. He also says that a witch may be good looking but her feet are turned inwards and she is evil and that there is a witch in every highrise. Men, both in the rural and urban areas, are going to react to this. It is going to have a negative effect. As it is atrocities against women are at an all-time high.”

Ipsita is not in touch with the filmmakers post their initial interaction wherein they wanted her to promote the film. “This is not what I have been working for, for decades! When the director (Kannan Iyer) contacted me, he told me that the film will be dark from the beginning to the end and that it is based on a real cult. Then a member from the production unit called me and said, ‘We are perpetuating the myth’,” she revealed. Stressing that she doesn’t like the attitude of the makers in portraying women in this negative light,she added,“I’m surprised that Konkona Sen Sharma’s father can write a story like this and depict women in a dark way. The attitude towards women has to change. They cannot be portrayed as sex objects, item girls or daayans.”

Mention the argument that it is creative licence and Ipsita says, “You can say it is creative licence but you have to agree that in a country like India, there are social problems. In the west, there’s no witch burning, but in India, there’s witch torture and killing. They shave their heads, strip them. Our country is riddled with superstitions and a film like this will only rake up more superstition.” She feels that she has done her bit by registering a complaint. “Mamta Sharma (chairperson of NCW) is very concerned. I don’t know what they will do and what the eventuality will be now,” Ipsita adds.


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Delhi Times
Times of India

Women cannot be portrayed as sex objects, item girls or daayans
Courtesy | Pune Time - Time of India | 12 April 2013 | Nupur Chaudhuri

 

Filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj recently said that showing the film Ek Thi Daayan to other bodies (read: the National Commission for Women) undermines the position of the Central Board of Film Certification. The NCW asked the makers to show the film to them after a complaint was registered by Wiccan priestess Ipsita Roy Chakraverti who alleged that the film is showing women in a derogatory light. Even as the controversy continues and goes back and forth, Ipsita is happy with one outcome: “The secretary of the IB Ministry has sent a note to the Cabinet Secretary to plan an eventual law that in India, films should have less obscene content, should have no material that is derogatory to women and they should show more respect towards women. They have also mentioned the ‘daayan’ theme so this is a positive outcome so far,” she says.

Tell her that the makers have added a disclaimer that the film isn’t derogatory towards anyone but Ipsita holds her ground and says, “This they have done now. Right from the beginning they were saying it is based on facts. There’s a line in the film where the actor Emraan Hashmi says it is based on ancient texts. He also says that a witch may be good looking but her feet are turned inwards and she is evil and that there is a witch in every high rise. Men, both in the rural and urban areas, are going to react to this. It is going to have a negative effect. As it is atrocities against women are at an all-time high.”

Ipsita is not in touch with the makers post their initial interaction wherein they wanted her to promote the film. “This is not what I have been working for, for decades! When the director (Kannan Iyer) contacted me, he told me that the film will be dark from the beginning to the end and that it is based on a real cult. Then a member from the production unit called me and said, ‘We are perpetuating the myth’,” she revealed. Stressing that she doesn’t like the attitude of the makers in portraying women in this negative light, she added, “I’m surprised that Konkona Sen Sharma’s father can write a story like this and depict women in a dark way. The attitude towards women has to change. They cannot be portrayed as sex objects, item girls or daayans.”

Mention the argument that it is creative licence and she said, “You can say it is creative licence but you have to agree that in a country like India, there are social problems. In the west, there’s no witch burning, but in India, there’s witch torture and killing. They shave their heads, strip them. Our country is riddled with superstitions and a film like this will only rake up more superstition.”

She feels that she has done her bit by registering a complaint. “Mamta Sharma (chairperson of NCW) is very concerned. I don’t know what they will do and what the eventuality will be now,” she said.


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Pune Times
Times of India

টাকা দিয়ে আমার বিশ্বাস কেনা যায় না
‘এক থি ডায়েন’য়ের বিরুদ্ধে সরব হয়েছেন ডাকিনী বিদ্যার শিক্ষিকা ঈপ্সিতা রায় চক্রবর্তী। কেন? জানালেন প্রিয়াঙ্কা দাশগুপ্তকে

Courtesy | Anandabazar Patrika | 8 April 2013 |

চারদিকে ‘এক থি ডায়েন’য়ের বিরুদ্ধে আপনার তোলা আপত্তির চর্চা চলছে। এই বিতর্কের শুরু কোথায়?

প্রায় দু’মাস আগে ছবির প্রযোজকরা একটা প্রস্তাব দিয়েছিল, যাতে আমি একতা কপূরের ছবির প্রোমোশনে যোগ দিই। আমার প্রথম প্রতিক্রিয়া ছিল ছবিটা সম্পর্কে তো আমার কোনও ধারণাই নেই। শুধুমাত্র কিছু অভিনেত্রীর নাম জানতাম। শুনেছিলাম তাঁরা ওই ছবিটি করছেন। আমাকে ছবির প্রোমোশনে থাকতে গেলে, আমার তো সিনেমার গল্পটা জানা প্রয়োজন। উল্টো দিক থেকে সঙ্গে সঙ্গে প্রস্তাব আসে যে, আমাকে সেটা ই-মেলে জানানো হবে। তার কিছু দিন পরে, আবার একই প্রস্তাব। তখন ইউনিটের এক মহিলা আমাকে জানান যে, তিনি ছবির ডিরেক্টরকে আমার সঙ্গে যোগাযোগ করতে বলবেন। কথা প্রসঙ্গে এই মহিলা আমাকে এটাও বলেন, ছবিতে “উই আর গোয়িং টু পারপেচুয়েট দ্য মিথ”। তার অর্থ হল আমরা কুসংস্কারটা বজায় রাখব। এর পর ডিরেক্টর ফোন করে আমাকে বেশ সোজাসাপ্টা ভাবেই বলেন যে, ছবিটা নাকি প্রথম থেকে শেষ অবধি পুরোটাই ‘ডার্ক’।



এই শুনে আপনার কী প্রতিক্রিয়া ছিল?

আমি বলেছিলাম যে ছবিতে যদি কিছুই ভাল না থাকে, তা হলে আমাকে সেটা প্রোমোট করতে কেন বলা হচ্ছে? আমার এত বছরের পড়াশোনা এবং চর্চার বিষয় থেকে তো এটা ভিন্ন মেরুর চিন্তাধারা। আমি এটাও ওঁকে বলি যে বারবার আমি ছবিটার গল্প জানতে চেয়েছি, কিন্তু আমাকে কিছুই জানানো হয়নি। প্রায় দশ দিন আগে আমার কাছে আবার ফোন আসে, বলা হয় যে, ৬ তারিখে ছবির প্রোমোশনে এই সিনেমার সঙ্গে জড়িত টিমটি কলকাতায় আসবে। আমি তখনই জানিয়ে দিই যে, আমি ছবির প্রোমোশনে থাকতে পারব না।



প্রোমোশনে থাকার জন্য কি আপনাকে টাকাপয়সা দেওয়ারও কথা হয়েছিল?


ঈপ্সিতা রায় চক্রবর্তী
কী আর বলব! আমাকে বলা হয়েছিল, টাকাপয়সাটা কোনও সমস্যাই হবে না। এটা শুনে খুব অপমানিত বোধ করেছিলাম। টাকা দিয়ে আমার বিশ্বাস কেনা যায় না। ওঁরা কী ভাবে টাকা দিয়ে আদর্শ জলাঞ্জলি দেওয়া যায়! আমি গল্পটা জানি না। পরে একটা ই-মেল পাঠানো হয়েছিল। যাতে ছবিটার একটা ট্রেলার ছিল। সেটা দেখেই আমি ওঁদের সঙ্গে টেলিভিশন চ্যানেলে চ্যানেলে ঘুরে বেরিয়ে বলব ছবিটা দেখুন। আমি ইন্টারনেটে ছবিটার সিনপসিস পড়েছি। বুঝেছি এ রকম ছবি দেখানো হলে গ্রামে গ্রামে ডাইনি সন্দেহে মেয়েদের উপর অত্যাচার আরও বেড়ে যাবে। সমাজের ক্ষেত্রে এটা খুবই ক্ষতিকারক। মেয়েদের প্রতি অ্যাটিচিউডটাই ঠিক নয়। আমি আশ্চর্য হয়ে যাচ্ছি যে, কঙ্কনা সেন শর্মার মতো একজন শিক্ষিত মহিলা এই রকমের একটা ছবি করতে রাজি হয়েছিলেন।



আপনি সেন্সর বোর্ডে কথা না বলে সোজা ভারতের রাষ্ট্রপতির নজরে এ বিষয়টা নিয়ে এলেন কেন?

দেখুন, আমার মনে হয়, বিষয়টা শুধু মাত্র একটা সিনেমাকে ঘিরে নয়। আমার মনে হয়, এটাকে সামগ্রিক ভাবে দেখা দরকার। কুসংস্কার আরও বেড়ে যাবে, এই সব ধারণা প্রচার হলে। তাতে মেয়েদের উপর অত্যাচার অনেক বেড়ে যাবে। তাই আমি রাষ্ট্রপতিকে আমার উদ্বেগটা জানাই। এবং উনি জাতীয় মহিলা কমিশনকে বিষয়টা রেফার করেন।



অনেকে বলছেন আপনি ফার্স্ট লেডির খুব কাছের বলে সোজা রাষ্ট্রপতির কাছে নিজের ক্ষোভটা জানিয়েছেন। এ কথা ঠিক?

এটা অতিরঞ্জিত একটা প্রচার। মিডিয়ার সৃষ্টি। আমাদের রাষ্ট্রপতি বাঙালি। অনেকের কথাই উনি শোনেন।



আপনি নিজে এখন কী চাইছেন? ছবিটা ব্যানড্ হয়ে যাক?

আমার নিজের চাওয়া না-চাওয়া নিয়ে কোনও কথা বলতে চাই না। সে রকম কিছু আমি বলিওনি। আমার আদর্শের সঙ্গে ছবিটির বিষয়ের একটা সংঘাত রয়েছে। এবং সেটাই আমি জাতীয় মহিলা কমিশনের সচিব মমতা শর্মাকে জানিয়েছি। এর পর ব্যাপারটা ওঁরাই খতিয়ে দেখবেন।


অনেকেরই প্রশ্ন ডাকিনী বিদ্যা আসলে কী?

এটা পৃথিবীর সবচেয়ে প্রাচীন ধর্ম। কুসংস্কারের কোনও জায়গা নেই এই বিদ্যায়। আমি বহু বছর ধরে এই নিয়ে চর্চা করছি।



আপনার পিটিশনের ফলে ছবিটার তো অনেক প্রচারও হচ্ছে। সেটা নিয়ে আপনি ভাবছেন না?

গ্রামে গ্রামে ঘুরেছি কুসংস্কার দূর করতে। কখনও ডাইনি সন্দেহ করা মেয়েদের রক্ষা করতে গিয়ে নিজেও আহত হয়েছি। পুরুলিয়ার গ্রামে ঢিল ছুড়েও মারা হয়েছে আমাকে। আমি ছবিটির ট্রেলার দেখেছি। মনে হয়েছে ছবিটি কুসংস্কারাচ্ছন্ন। কোনও বিশেষ ব্যক্তির প্রতি আমার কোনও ক্ষোভ নেই। যদি আমার মত প্রকাশ করার ফলে ছবির প্রচার হয়, তাতে আমি কী করতে পারি?



আপনার লেখা গল্পের উপর ভিত্তি করে তো অঞ্জন দত্তের ছবি করার কথা ছিল। কী হল সেটার?

একটা টেলিফিল্ম বানানো হয়েছিল। নাম ছিল ‘দ্য ম্যানিকুইন’। একজন অভিনেত্রীকে নিয়ে যিনি কিছুতেই বিশ্বাস করতে পারেন না যে তাঁর স্টারডমটা আর নেই।

টেলিফিল্মের কথা বলছি না। একটা পুরোদস্তুর ফিচার ফিল্মের কথা উঠেছিল, যেটায় অপর্ণা সেন আর ঋতুপর্ণ ঘোষের অভিনয় করার কথা ছিল... দেখুন, আমি কিন্তু অপর্ণা বা ঋতুপর্ণ কারও নামই সাজেস্ট করিনি। অঞ্জন বলেছিল আমাকে একটা গল্প লিখতে যেখানে, একজন বয়স্ক অভিনেত্রী খুব চেষ্টা করেন তাঁর যৌবনকে ধরে রাখতে। উনি চান যাতে নতুন কোনও অভিনেত্রী ইন্ডাস্ট্রিতে এলেই তাঁদের জীবনে একটা বিপর্যয় ঘটে। এই বয়স্ক অভিনেত্রী সুপারন্যাচারাল পাওয়ার দিয়ে তাঁর কার্যসিদ্ধি করার চেষ্টা করেন। অঞ্জনের সঙ্গে এ নিয়ে কথাবার্তা হলেও শেষ পর্যন্ত আর কিছু হয়নি।



ভবিষ্যতে আর ছবি করতে চান?

‘সেক্রেড ইভিল’ বলে আমার একটা গল্প নিয়ে ছবি হয়েছিল। তাতে আমি যে খুব খুশি হয়েছিলাম তা নয়। ভবিষ্যতে চাইব যদি এমন একটা ছবি করা যায়, যেখানে সুপারন্যাচারাল আর সাইকোলজিকে ঠিক মতো ব্যাখ্যা করা যায়। তবে ছবি করাটা আমার উদ্দেশ্য নয়।



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Anandabazar Patrika

Women cannot be portrayed as sex objects, item girls or daayans
Courtesy | Mumbai Mirror | 4 April 2013 | Soumyadipta.Banerjee@timesgroup.com

Ekta Kapoor has often happily courted controversy to promote her films, but this time her strategy may have backfired.

Balaji had sent a cordial invitation to Kolkata-based self-proclaimed Wiccan priestess, author and social activist Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, asking her to be a part of Ek Thi Daayan's promotional cam-paign. Not only has Chakraverti refused to be a part of the drive, but has taken offence with the way witches are allegedly portrayed in the film. She met President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday, and con-vinced him to refer the matter to the National Women's Commission chief Mamta Sharma.

Sources confirmed that the com-mission has taken up the case as a "matter of national interest" since the recommendation has come from the President's office and Balaji will soon receive a notice.

Mirror has got copies of emails exchanged between Balaji Telefilms Ltd and Ipsita, as well as a copy of the petition forwarded to the President in which Ipsita states that the film will incite violence against women and "lead to further witch hunts which are already rife in our rural areas".

"I met the President at 7.15 pm at Rashtrapati Bhawan on Tuesday with my petition. I explained to him why such a film should not be released in India. I reasoned that the portrayal of witches in the film supports the age-old prejudice of burning women after branding them as witches," she said adding: "I am totally in the know of the contents of the film. The company had forwarded a detailed brief and I had had a chat with the director too." In the petition, Ipsita expressed her surprise that a national award-winning actor like Konkona Sen Sharma, is part of the film.

It is one of the rare cases where the President has taken cognisance of a compliant against a Bollywood film. Many are of the view that Chakraverti's voice may have been heard because she is a close friend of the President's wife Suvra Mukherjee. Ipsita argued: "It is true I am a family friend of the Mukherjees but that is not why I approached him. I strongly believe that such films should not release in India. I have been told that my complaint will be forwarded to the National Women's Commission by Wednesday evening."

Ekta Kapoor and her team were unaware of the developments till we contacted them, but Ekta confirmed that she had contacted Ipsita to pro-mote her film. "How can somebody say that Jam degrading women? My film is a work of art. I need to consult my legal team," she said.

The conversation was soon followed by a text message from Tanuj Garg, CEO, Balaji, saying that the production house will not comment on the issue any further unless they receive an official communication from the Commission.


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Mumbai Mirror

AN AFTERNOON OF MYSTERY, MAGIC & REVELATIONS WITH IPSITA ROY CHAKRAVERTI
Courtesy | T2 The Telegraph (Kolkata) | 19 Mar 2013 |

 



From a haunted fort in Rajasthan to a sun temple in Rome, the Wiccam Brigade, led by Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, time-travelled through mystery and magic at The Park on Saturday. The Brigade shared its experiences of the two psychic investigations at Bharigarh (inset) in Rajasthan. —act-4'4,r "Bhangarh proved to us that there is a life beyond, that there can be souls trapped like residual energy The spirit world has a consciousness which manifested to us in the form of orbs in photos," said the wiccan high priestess at the session, 'Revelations from Ipsita and the Wiccan Brigade'.

A guest picks a charged crystal to meditate with. "In Wicca, we call it communication," said Ipsita.

THE PYTHIAS OF APOLLO: With smoke swirling arotmd them—as lore says it had when the Oracles sat on their tripods at Delphi on Mount Parnassus — The Park's Ebony hall was transported to 14th century Rome in the second-half of the session. Dressed in black robes, nine women members sat in clusters of three, recreating a lost tradition of "mediumship". "The Pythias were the priestesses of sun god Apollo. They were talented mediums who would receive messages, read the signs and convey it to those who sought their advice. This session is an evocation of that time. It is not prophesying because Wicca does not believe in fortune-telling," said Ipsita. An invocation and healing ceremony concluded the session.

Guest Speaks

"What I saw today was a remark-able sense of discipline in the members following a spiritual path, something that I feel Ipsita Roy Chakraverti has instilled in them. In today's times of social degrada-tion, it is a very different and enriching experience," said actress Gargi Roy Chowdhury

"The findings from the Bhangarh inves-tigations were very interesting as was the Oracles of Delphi session. This is the first time I attended a wiccan healing session and I loved it. especially when they did the chants. All in all, it was a very peaceful one-and-a-half hours," said musician Neel Dutt.


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T2 The Telegraph

Casting a spell
Courtesy | Hindustan Times (Kolkata) | 18 Mar 2013 | Sanya Panwar

KOLKATA:
WICCA POSITIVE

More and more people are taking up contemporary witchcraft, which they claim, gives a better hold over their life & destiny

At first glance, she seems like any other woman, charming, witty, and thoughtful. But corporate lawyer Deepta Chakraverti is a real life witch who practices Wicca. Wicca, which is emerging as a popular faith in the city, is also known as contemporary witchcraft or simply the craft. It believes in the supernatural. It underscores the worship of earthseen as a living goddess, who cares for us and must be nurtured in return.

Ipsita Roy Chakraverti

“Unlike the cruel witches in the movies, the members of my faith are human and live by the principle of not harming anyone,” says Chakraverti, who doesn’t shy away from being called a witch.

“Yet, for centuries witches have been maligned and misrepresented; Wicca symbols and practices have always drawn suspicion from outsiders,” adds Chakraverti, who was introduced to Wicca at a tender age.

However, her mother and Wiccan high priestess Ipsita Roy Chakraverti stresses this notion of Wicca is slowly changing. While some continue to practice secretly, many others are joining covens — groups of like-minded people who meet and worship the divine together.

“Coming clean, perhaps, even a decade ago would mean ostracism; hence, many were forced to mask their faith, even from family and friends.But, now they face fewer backlashes,” says Roy Chakraverti, who has been associated with the craft for almost five decades.

“Given today’s challenges, people from all walks of life are looking for directions. Young people in particular seek answers from the spiritual world,” adds Roy Chakraverti, who started Wiccan Brigade in 2006 for sincere seekers of the craft.

Active members of the brigade, totalling about two dozen in the city, carefully selected by Roy Chakraverti, don’t just burn incense, chant and draw circles in the air when they meet every week. They also study ancient Indian, Greek or Egyptians texts and way of life.

Once considered a fringe religion for social misfits, Wicca is now attracting so many in the city that one Wiccan even jokes that “the brooms are suddenly coming out of the closet.”

With the obligatory broom joke out of the way, Wicca remains a bane for most who associate it with black magic. But ardent Wiccans in the city, who are in part captivated by the powerful and glamorous new avatar of witches portrayed on television shows, in movies and books (the Harry Potter series, for instance, has made magic seem a force of good) are doing all they can to portray it as a positive creed.

Dolon Dutta Chowdhury, a MNC employee, who joined Wiccan Brigade four years ago after years of being fascinated with witchcraft, maintains that learning the craft influenced her profoundly - it made her patient, calm and determined. “Outsiders see Wiccans as people who perform satanic rites. But to dispel this common myth about Wicca, we choose to be upfront about being Wiccans.” “I am proud of the fact that my family, friends and colleagues accept me for what I am,” adds the 20-something.

Wicca members chanting prayers

Actress Chandrayee Ghosh agrees Wicca still faces a struggle for acceptance, but is no longer hideous or restricted to folklores and fairytales.

Like others, Ghosh, who became a Wiccan in 2011, did so as she found the promise of power over others and the ability to control her own destiny irresistible. “Wicca is open-minded, inclusive, respectful and tolerant of differences. But people have all the wrong notions about us; neither do we worship evil nor do we do black magic,” says the proud Wiccan.

Homemaker Alokananda Ray, a new entree to the brigade, too was drawn to the ‘live-and-let-live mentality’ of Wicca. “Being a witch doesn’t mean you look different from others. It means having one’s own set of beliefs and moral framework and standing outside the notion of acceptable behaviour,” says the mother of two teenage daughters.

Businessman Debabrata Saha calls Wicca a ‘buffet-style faith’ that gives one the freedom to do as he/she please - it’s all about finding what works for them, what they relate to and identify with. “We are not the kooky ones; we simply challenge what is accepted,” says Saha, who found belonging and purpose in the craft.

Myths about witches

  • They are all evil and worship Satan
  • They use witchcraft to cast evil spells or put curse on people
  • They have green skin, big noses and a wart
  • They only wear black and pointy hats
  • They all own black cats and ride around on broomstick

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Hindustan Times

THE WICCAN COMES TO IIM CALCUTTA
Courtesy | T2 -The Telegraph | 18 January 2013 | Malancha Dasgupta

What comes to mind when one thinks of a witch? A woman in a black cloak, conical hat with a broomstick, doing hocus pocus? Maybe characters from Harry Potter? Those ideas are sure to be transfigured if you meet Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, the Wiccan priestess in India.

Ipsita Roy Chakraverti

Draped in a black cloak, Chakraverti put 70-odd students of the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, under a spell on January 9 as she spoke about ghosts and planchettes and decoded Wiccan symbols.

“Black is a witch’s favourite colour. It stands for enigma and dignity in Wicca. The broom signifies a woman being liberated from household activities and flying away in search of identity. The conical hat is a symbol of concentration and free flowing thought,” she explained.

Questions about planchettes flew thick and fast but Chakraverti dismissed them with: “I have never tried planchette because I feel it has become a parlour game and people are misusing it.”

Her experience at Bhangarh fort, Rajasthan, a place known to be one of the most haunted in India, was another point of interest for the budding managers.

Chakraverti, along with a 13-member team from Wiccan Brigade, went to Bhangarh in January last year. She shared her experiences and the evidences they brought back. “Our camera captured orbs, opaque blobs of light during para-normal activities, in the corridor of the main fort and two temples. In one of the areas, though it was day time, there was a distinct green light. When I was walking down the corridor, those who were behind me saw a shadow that came up and pointed at me. All these prove that it is a haunted place,” said Chakraverti, who conducted a second round of investigations at Bhangarh last weekend.

Some Feedback

“Wicca is interesting.I believe there are spirits but have never experienced anything unnatural.I would love to have the experience she had in Bhangarh fort” — VISHAL RATHORE, second year

“This is a completely new dimension for me.She is the only certified witch from India.It was great to hear about her experiences.Though I am a rational thinker,I sort of believe in what she said”— SAURABH MITTAL, first year


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