Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 58, Tuesday September 26, 2006



Festival Weekly Planner


If you haven't really been very disciplined of late, now would be a good time to start trying to get yourself into some kind of daily routine. Try to get to bed by ten each night so you can make an early start. This will help you wake for sehri on time and also give you some time to prepare before going to work later.


Fasting takes a few days of getting used to. During this transition, it is important to drink enough water and take things slowly. Don't pig out at iftar on the very first days and don't try to run a marathon while fasting. Take it easy and let your body make a comfortable transition.


Last year we waited until mid Ramadan to get to the tailors but the race this year has just gained speed. What with the rains sweeping us off our feet and making our roads even more difficult to tread, it's best to get a head start on those Eid clothes. If you don't have the materials yet, now is the time to make a run for it.


Pooja is on the way and if you have never been to one to share in the festivities, you really have been missing out on a LOT. The colours, flavours, saris and flowers of the Puja season can take your mind off the worst blues. Contrary to popular belief, we have always been a secular nation where the different races and religions coexist in harmony and share in each others' joys and sorrows. So after Iftar and prayers do take the time to go see Puja being performed and remember that besides sacrifice and abstinence, Ramadan also teaches us a lesson or two in tolerance.


If the mosque nearest you is too far away and you are tired of watching the same replay of a Hajj scene on TV when the Azaan plays just before Iftar every day, then it would be good to get a radio to get the Azaan on time. It might sound old fashioned in the age of Mp3s and cell phone ringers but you'd be surprised what quaint things can do for your lifestyle.


Saturdays are usually great days to squat in front of the TV with your dinner and watch one movie after another on the various movie channels. Although for us the week does start the day after, we end up enjoying weekends with the West and getting to work tired and groggy on the first day of the week! And with Ramadan, all it does is make you wake late for sehri, so do yourself a favour and skip the movie nights until the end of the month. Unlike architects or journalists you are likely to have the day off anyway for watching as many movies as you can. So do that instead!


Fasting is likely to drive you insane daydreaming of food that you can't have until iftar.
Take some time to meditate. If you have a camera, go up to the rooftop and try photographing the urban jungle around you. If you are into gardening, cut off those dead leaves from your plants. If nothing else works, there is always music and books to fall back on. Try reading something soothing like Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukov, which gets you thinking about the intangible and gets your mind off petty sufferings like hunger!

By Diya

Puja tidbits

Last minute shopping
Puja is literally at our doorstep, leaving us very little time to collect all the little things needed for the ceremony and festivities. So, here at Lifestyle, we decided to give you a hand with the stuff and tell you where to go and what to get:

Although worn by married women as a symbol of their marriage as well as for the protection and long life of their spouses, Shakhas can be worn by anybody and are available at affordable prices at Shakhari Bazar in Old Dhaka.

Also available at Shakhari Bazar as well as in any cosmetic selling store in New Market or Gausia, Sindoor or Vermilion is also worn by married Hindu women. Sindoor can be used for drawing tips for other occasions as well.

Puja Cards
If you want to wish some of your loved ones and friends a happy and prosperous puja season and don't know where to find the right greeting cards, Ideas is the place for you. Located in the Aziz Super Market, the store offers a variety of gifts, clay items, etc as well if you're on the lookout for those.

A number of new flower places have sprouted up in recent times but when you need flowers in large amounts and want variety, the best place to get them is from the street side vendors who sit on the footpath under the tree opposite The National Museum. If you live around Gulshan or Banani though, the vendors on the Kamal Ataturk Avenue would have the same stuff only at higher prices.

Khaja, gaja, batasha
These snacks handed out at every puja ceremony are found all over the place. Certain sweetmeat stores make these specially for the season as well as the special puja laddoo. Batashas can be found from street side vendors near the Dhaka University, in Old Dhaka as well as in stores like Olympia bakery.

Two types of lentil, moog and motar, fragrant rice, any vegetables available in the market, green chilli, turmeric, bay leafs, ghee or oil, salt, paach-foron, sugar.
The daal is soaked for a few hours. The oil is heated up and chillies, turmeric, salt, sugar and bay leaves are added as well as paach-foron. After they are cooked for a bit, the vegetables are added followed by the daal and then the rice. Everything is cooked together and water is added as required. The result is a delicious combination of rice, daal and veggies similar to bhuna khichuri.

Coconut Naroo
Grated coconut, sugar or molasses, cardamom.
Put the coconut in a pan and toss it around for a bit. When it has browned a little, add the rest of the ingredients and keep stirring. When all the juices have dried up, take the pan off the stove. Make little balls out of the mixture and then leave them to cool. Makes a great snack.

By Diya and Sultana

On the cover

Our Ramadan resolution this year is to stay fit and look our healthy best this Eid. Helping along is a selection of low calorie recipes for iftar on Pg-5.
Photo: Amirul Rajiv



This is the month of festivities and religious devotion. On the one hand, Ramadan is here with its traditional rituals of fasting and the much anticipated iftar parties. On the other, the subtle seasonal manifestations of "Shorot" foretell the advent of the Durga Puja (not to mention the mystic Kirtan music and the orange-yellow laddoos). In a perfect world, this would have been the perfect month- one of spiritual harmony and inter-religious brotherhood. But alas, the world is as perfect as Bush Administration's foreign policies and this is a month for religious friction.

A "problem" that is really no problem at all is being blown up into a huge issue- the question of whether or not the Hindus should be allowed to celebrate Puja over the course of Ramadan. In theory, the answer may seem ridiculously obvious. Then again, considering the fact that Bangladesh is a country with a Muslim majority, the question needs to be pondered in a different light. Some of these people have advocated the ban of Hindu music and "uulu" at both dawn and dusk (as it coincides with iftar time), while others have gone the distance to request the local authorities for a complete prohibition of these activities for the month of Ramadan. Surprisingly, a large portion of such nonsense is coming from the "mullahs". This again raises the question as to whether they really are educated when it comes to Islamic and other religious issues. The great irony is that Ramadan is the time for piety and moral uprightness. Does wrinkling eyebrows at other religions constitute "uprightness"? Does our religion really preach such discrimination?

We may individually call ourselves "enlightened". We may say that we are educated enough not to single out Islam. It is true that most of us urbanized beings have become more open to differing views. But collectively, this view is not being implemented.

We cannot blame our government policies either. Religious discrimination of this sort is strongly discouraged. The fallacy lies in the implementation- no charges are being drawn up and the offenders are not being penalized. Religious freedom is a fundamental human right. But sadly even in a time when gay rights, women's rights and labour matters are being highlighted, little attention has been paid to this subject. Contrary to popular belief, a perfect world is not too much to ask for… so give it a try!

By Shahmuddin Ahmed Siddiky



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