Vol. 5 Num 315 Sat. April 16, 2005  

Swadeshi Poshak Utshab 1412
A blend of tradition and modernity

There have been many additional attractions to the celebration of Pahela Baishakh this year. Apart from the traditional joyous music and spectacular dance pieces or attending Baishakhi Melas or even eating panta bhat (fermented rice) with green chillies and hilsa fish, there have been some welcome innovations. Such one event on this year's Pahela Baishakh was a fashion show titled Swadeshi Poshak Utshab 1412. Organised by fashion house Neelanjana Palli, the show was held at the Winter Garden of Hotel Sheraton.

Neelanjana Palli is the brain-child of Farzana Yasmeen Neela. Having started its journey in 1997, the aim of the organisation is to popularise traditional handloom apparel in the local as well as the international markets. Neela began her career as a designer by developing designs of the indigenous group Rakhain in Barisal.

Neela's urge to conserve and promote the local tradition was in evidence in the materials and even the choreography of the fashion show. Models walked the ramp with traditional musical instruments like mandira and dhol at the beginning of the parade. Young and enthusiastic models Dola, Apurbo, Shubhro, Laj, Shorna, Mithila, Mim, Iti, Nisho, Brishti, Rayna and others presented the gorgeous traditional clothes to the delight of the audience.

Jamdani saree and salwar-kameez collections with magnificent colour, texture and combination charmed everyone. Cotton collections which included fatua, panjabee and children's wear also attracted attention. The ramp turned kaleidoscopic with a medley of popular Bangla songs, varying from Rabindra Sangeet to folk and modern to Baul: Esho amar gharey esho, Orey sampanwala, Prosno tomay amay kothay rakho, Jhingey phul and Shohag chand bodoni dhoni.

Another delightful performance was by a group of children wearing rose-red sarees dancing to the song Lal jhuti kakatua. In another part of the show, young models presented a humorous tale with the song Tui kene kada dili.

Celebrated Indian singer Arati Mukhopadhyay presented three of her most popular numbers--Ek Baishakhey dekha holo dujonar, Ei mom jochhonay and Tokhon tomar ekush bochhor, while popular Bangladeshi singers Sanjeeb Chowdhury and Mahmuduzzaman Babu rendered their hit numbers Ami Banglar gaan gai, Bioscope and Ei nashto shahorey. However, live performances instead of lip-synching with the recorded versions of the songs would have been more enjoyable.

Models present a comic anecdote (left) and a model clad in a magnificent Jamdani saree (right) walks the ramp at the fashion show