Chittagong Shilpakala Academy premises turned into a festival ground yesterday, the first day of a weeklong gala featuring Boat Technology and Culture in Chittagong and in Bengal.
The opening ceremony was an event to be remembered by the participants for years as the stage was set in the form of a boat, with a real Shampan (a type of colourful boat) placed behind the podium for display.
Spectators shook their heads in wonder, one of them saying: "We've never seen anything like this before."
Titled “Tora Kon Kon Zabi Aar Sampanat, (Who want to board my boat)," the event is being jointly organised by The Daily Star and Alliance Française de Chittagong (AFC).
The festival is a sequel to The Daily Star-Odommo Chattagram Festival organised last year to promote the rich history, culture, heritage and economic prospects of Chittagong.
Samuel Berthet, director of AFC, said boat technology was part of Bangladesh's heritage. But with rivers dying out and changing technology, boat technology is gradually disappearing.
Yves Marre, a renowned French sailor famous for inventing safe boat-making technology, thanked The Daily Star for organising the festival.
Marre, who has been living in Bangladesh for more than 15 years, said he had been making boats at TaraTari Shipyard in Kalurghat to help fishermen sail safely.
Speaking on the occasion, Mahfuz Anam, the editor and publisher of The Daily Star, said the message of the festival was tolerance -- tolerance of diversity in culture and opinion.
About the rich heritage of boat technology of Bangladesh, he said it was a matter of marvel that people invented the science of boat technology and through which they made voyages 2000 years back.
Terming the 21st century a century of communication, he urged all to shun the path of intolerance to be able to achieve collective humanity.
With a traditional drum performance by a group called "Joy Baba Loknath," the festival offered a local flavour in the afternoon.
Mahfuz Anam later inaugurated the photography exhibition at Shilpakala Academy Gallery.
In the evening, the Ritwik Ghatak film “Titas Ekti Nadir Naam" was screened on a giant screen on the academy premises.