Vol. 5 Num 295 Sat. March 26, 2005  

A welcome to rains
Indigenous people demand laws to protect culture

Rajshahi: Indigenous people at a gathering at Kakhonhat in Godagari upazila have demanded enactment of laws to protect their language and traditional culture.

The demands were made at a day-long cultural programme, held at Laldhighi Para school ground on Thursday, marking Bhaha and Sharol festivals, welcoming the rainy season.

The programme was organised by Adivasi Sangskritik Unnayon Sangstha (ASUS).

A large number of indigenous people including Santal and Monipuri men and women from northern districts joined the programmes.

The days programme began offer worship of Bhaha and Sharol idols, followed by a big colorful procession.

The processionists paraded different roads in Kakhonhat, chanting various slogans and carrying banners and fastoons highlighting their demands.

At the meeting, Rajshahi district president of National Adivasi Parishad Bimal Chandra Sarker read out a resolution containing the demands, which were approved by the indigenous people.

Indigenous leader Haram Baneshar Saran presided over the meeting.

Godagari Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Hawlader Zakir Hossain was

present as chief guest while Kakhonhat municipality chairman Abdul Majid, Rishicul Union Parishad Chairman Zahangir Alam Sarker, Godagari municipality commissioner, Godagari Press Club President Nazrul Islam and ASUS Executive Director Rajkumar Shaw were special guests.

The speakers said the indigenous people have a distinctive culture and heritage, but those are fading away due to lack of government patronisation and "aggressive" attitude of local Bangalees.

Their rights are often violated.

They demanded return of their lands grabbed allegedly by Bangalees and steps to ensure their right to education.

The colorful cultural function after the meeting included Shantal and Minopuri dances welcoming the rainy season, drama and songs.

Noran Kiskue, a Shantal dancer told this correspondent that without Bhaha and Sharol Puja, indigenous people can not arrange marriage and other festivals.

Godagari UNO later distributed prize among best performer.

Santal and Minopuri women presenting Bhaha and Sharol dances at Laldhighi school ground in Kakhonhat under Godagari upazila in Rajshahi on Thursday welcoming the rainy season. PHOTO: STAR