Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 31, Tuesday August 12, 2008




Embracing Shab-e-Barat

Jessica, a Junior Lecturer, shares her earliest memories about Shab-e-barat. "There were a lot of sweets, and halwa, and the family gathering together to observe the occasion. My aunts and grandmother would tell us how this was the night that Allah decided our destinies, and thus urge us to pray. While we weren't quite convinced about this, we offered our prayers just the same."

Her colleague, Muntaser, argues 'We never observed this occasion at our home, because Shab-e-baraat isn't considered to be a part of our religion. You won't find them observing it in the Middle East. It's more of a cultural thing."

Thus the debate wears on. Religious festivals are undoubtedly the best and most favoured part of every culture. Be it is Eid or Puja, Christmas or Hanukah, festivals are what people all over the world look forward to; the few precious days of the year when tradition and celebration go hand in hand. These are days that bring about joy and fervour among everyone's lives, be it the rich or the poor, the young or the old. To Muslims here, one such upcoming festival is the much-awaited Shab-e-Barat.

The fact that this day is considered a somewhat festival is debated upon among some people, but it is also undeniable that Shab-e-Barat does carry traditions along with it, at least in the context of our country.

Regardless though, the first images that flash across the mind when thinking of Shab-e-Barat, are that of mouth-watering halwa. For years, the making of different types of home made sweets, such as vermicelli and especially the halwa, has been a ritual that is carried out with great dedication and devotion.

The preparations for the various types of halwa usually start a day or two ahead. As is customary, the halwa is distributed among friends, families, neighbours, and of course, the poor.

Accompanied with these delectable sweet treats is another item, the chaaler ata ruti, or chapattis made out of rice flour; patiently prepared and rolled out throughout the day by the women of the household. As delicious as these may taste with halwa and other sweets, in many families, these chapattis are also saved for dinner, to be enjoyed with a traditional beef or duck bhuna.

Apart from food, Shab-e-Barat also brings along a fair share of fun for younger family members. On the eve of Shab-e-Barat, youngsters in groups of friends or cousins come out into the streets or go up to their roofs and light fireworks to celebrate the coming of the next day, which however is not very legal. And of course, after the day has passed and all the chores have been completed, people sit down for their namaz, many offering prayers throughout the night.

At the end of it all, this is the day when the wealthy share some sweets with the poor. This is the night when many Muslims come together in seeking the divine blessings of Allah. Thus, be it for religious, traditional or historical reasons, Shab-e-Barat is no doubt, a day that has a great deal of significance in almost all of our lives.

By Farina Noireet

Budget smart

Star gazing

Name: Aloha Rahman
Occupation: Doctor
Desire: To buy a telescope for her 16 year old son
Budget: Tk 6000

Seeing the fascination and craze of her son Imran regarding astronomy, she decided to gift him a telescope. However, there are certain things she should first consider. Many people paint colourful pictures in their minds when they think of looking through a telescope. Actually, only the most powerful ones are able to provide such colourful and detailed images that we see in atlases and on the television., the high level of air pollution in Dhaka makes images blurry and thus the sky is usually difficult to observe. A person buying a telescope should therefore decide how frequently he goes, or is prepared to go, outside Dhaka. Due to these problems, it is important to have the experience of using a telescope beforehand.

Bangladesh Astronomical Association arranges sky observation sessions through telescope every Saturday, after sunset to 8:30pm, at Dhanmondi Playground in Road # 8. It is free of cost. Before Aloha buys a telescope, she should ask her son to participate in that program to decide whether he actually wants a telescope or not.

Baitul Mukkurram, New Market and Gulshan two are some of those few places where telescopes are available. Prices of telescopes here do not vary to a great extent, but Baitul Mukkurram offers variety and quite a good number of shops. Unfortunately, given her budget, she won't be able to buy any telescope! The cheapest and shortest one available, called Mystery, which has a diameter of 50-60mm, will cost around Tk 11,000-Tk 15,000 whilst a telescope of diameter of 80mm will cost about Tk 18,000-Tk 25,000.The shops provide warranty of one to two years. Besides the diameter, prices vary greatly depending on the length of the telescope as well. A telescope of 114mm diameter is considered appropriate by many sky-gazers. But the price will be wildly high for Aloha, at around Tk 1 lakh.

Aloha can switch to a pair of powerful binoculars; and for beginners, it is a good instrument to start with. Binoculars costing around Tk 4,000 will be quite satisfactory, but if she stretches her budget a bit more, she can get really powerful ones that will enable the buyer to identify and observe planets, the craters of the moon and many other objects. Such binoculars, offered by companies Bushnell and Minolta, manufactured in Taiwan, cost around Tk.8, 000-TK.10, 500.


By M H Haider


Snappy negotiations!

Snap presented a dynamic workshop on how to negotiate, something we find ourselves frequently involved in. Snap which has been the strategic partner of Grameenphone is a team of dynamic young talents that aim to create a podium for the youth who seek out inspirations and possibilities. They create and promote new ideas, businesses, products and services, targeted especially to the youth. The company also aims to provide platform for young entrepreneurship by encouraging new initiatives and new businesses that will in turn benefit the community and bring about positive changes.

It deals with a variety of activities related to commerce. “Snap is not basically an HR firm, as business has a lot more to it” said Navine Mendes, the co-founder. Jointly with Grameenphone, they had also introduced Bangladesh's first nationwide competition called Project dYouth that tied in both business and community service in 2006.

The contest reiterated their goal to inspire a dynamic youth generation proud to be Bangladeshi. Earlier on, they had launched Project Bangladesh with the belief that patriotism is actively taking steps to make a difference, in the summer of 2005. After the success of this project, which popularized the red and green Amra Bangladesh wristbands, the team decided to go further.

Even though the workshop held in Heritage restaurant on the 9th of August focused on negotiations in the corporate world, all were encouraged to participate and learn the essentials and best-kept secrets from one of the leading experts in this field, Mr. Mahatab Hasan, Product Group Manager, Skin Cleansing, Unilever, Bangladesh.

He started his career with Grey advertising and after spending three years in Account Management, he pursued his career in Unilever looking after the media function. Invitations were sent to Transom, Apex and several other organisations to join the illuminating workshop. With several years of experience under his belt, Mr. Hasan offered this crash course, from 10 am to 5 pm, compromising of case studies, techniques to boost communication, situation analysis and the like to help his participants to successfully negotiate so that the next time the stakes are on the table, they are prepared to get what they want.

With the overwhelming response of this workshop, Snap is planning to arrange another enlightening workshop on popular topics in the upcoming weeks.

By Zion Ara Hamid

On The Cover

Shab-e-barat is around the corner. While this is a night of prayers, on a lighter note, there are more festive aspects to look forward to. The tradition of preparing halwa has trickled down through generations, and still offers us much excitement. For some special halwa recipes, turn to Pg 3.
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Special thanks to Khazana


At the doctors'

The doctor-patient relationship (yes, there is such a thing) is often misunderstood. True, doctors are there to serve but it is just like architects, engineers and lawyers- they serve and in exchange deserve proper remuneration.

This however brings in a lot into the picture. Sincerity comes first and truth be told the whole medicine fraternity can, and should do a lot more showing their integrity to the profession. Negligence is rampant, so is apathy.

Patients on the other hand have their own set of problems. We always choose to go for the best, failing to realise that the best does not necessarily mean seniority, fame and endless degrees along with the modest M.B.B.S.

The family physician is a lost identity in today's society. A physician must know the whole medical history of an individual in order to make a correct diagnosis. Sometimes, it is pivotal. But the trend is to rush to the specialists, even for simple remedies, which family physicians can take care of easily. The specialists are, by definition, supposed to deal with special cases, properly referred by a general physician, or another specialist. When bombarded with random cases of common ailments, the few specialist doctors that the country has, are bogged with trivial cases resulting in negligence to the ones who indeed require their services.

The time is right to bring a social change. Every family should consult a general physician before signing their name to consult a specialist. Care however should be taken while choosing the all-important GP (general physician). Reference works best but one must also judge competence and the most important factor- integrity.

The step has to come from both sides of the table. We are accustomed to following in a medical hierarchy starting from the general physician while seeking medical help abroad. It is a system proven to work.

Explain your problems in detail to the physician. But first, choose a physician who would listen to you. The initial step maybe trial and error but the end should surely produce some productive result and good health.

By Mannan Mashhur Zarif



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