A HALF-COMPLETE ENCYCLOPAEDIA FOR THE FRESHER
By Jawad Mahmud
Photo: E R Ronny
Flip side of ragging: Pushed too far, people will crack
The Ragging survival guide is your, the innocent and carefree fresher's, key to survival against the welcoming parade your most beloved and respected seniors are planning, even at this very moment. This is to be your first lesson before you step into the realm of Higher Studies. In some exhaustively comprehensive manner, we will guide you through almost everything you need to know about ragging: what it is, how it is handed out and how to make your university/college life more fun.
Ragging: What and Why
Rag [verb]: somebody (about something): to laugh at and/or play tricks on somebody -Oxford Advanced Learners' Dictionary
For the freshman starting his university life, the word 'rag' has a special meaning. Again, for the newly turned senior student, the same word has a totally different, yet equally special meaning. Perspective defines the merit of it. For the new student, most often ragging is something to dread; where some bored seniors makes them do or say embarrassing stuff as a form of public entertainment. It can very rarely be enjoyable. On the other hand, rag to the seniors is quite a harmless way to shake off some of the boredom of university life. They get a laugh out of the new students and feel the sensation of seniority. But the main purpose of ragging, as many would probably tell you, is to build the 'connection': getting acquainted with the seniors. Inexperience from both of the parties may bring about traumatic experience for some.
Usually during the first two-three weeks of the new semester do you have to stay prepared to get ragged. Sometimes, they may even continue for the length of the whole term, although those cases are very rare and happens only to a few lucky people.
Usually the campus; in some cases the classrooms and the corridors.
The Ragger and the Ragged:
According to statistical data and first-hand experiences, it has been widely proven that the persons who have been ragged are the ones most eager to give something back to the society. Usually the batch which got in the previous year is the one most enthusiastic about the whole thing. You can identify them by:
a) The hungry look in their eyes,
b) A mixture of euphoria and nervousness on their faces and
c) Lame tricks and indecisions.
The more experienced the raggers are, the more fun it is to watch, participate and perform.
Ragging in Bangladesh
Like many other trends, the culture of “welcoming someone into a group by making him do embarrassing stuff” i.e. ragging has also made its way into our universities. When we fail to emulate the creativity, we make do with obscenities and bullying. At many public universities, ragging is not to be taken lightly at all. Night raids in resident halls are often taken to extremities that can provide enough traumas to last a lifetime. In such cases, you are encouraged to report to the authorities (remain anonymous though).
What to Expect
When you see yourself surrounded by some unfamiliar, battle-worn and grim looking seniors, note that you are probably going to be ragged in a few minutes. You will be expected to do a lot of things, starting from stating your name to canvassing for some special medicines; from measuring the volume of a brick with the help of match-sticks to dancing to Bangla movie songs (the rage this year is “I have a boyfriend” from a Shakib Khan film, YouTube it); from confessing love to an unsuspecting senior to passing roses without the use of hands. These trials will test your mettle and prepare you for the long and perilous journey ahead.
You should expect the seniors to find mistakes in anything you say, do or gesture. You should also brace yourself for harsh criticism.
You should also expect a treat at the end. It is suggested to predetermine a good nearby restaurant and your preference in food. Etiquette suggests the raggers treat the ragged.
Dos and Don'ts
Answer the questions as truthfully as your wit allows you to. Remember, even a simple question like “What is your name?” can have varying degrees of loopholes for an answer. And also remember, whatever you say, it will be wrong. Any expert at this craft will find a loophole to your answer, even if you research for the perfect one.
Remember, most of the time 'revenge' has nothing to do with the persecution you are put through. The seniors usually want to have some fun. Be witty. But don't be disrespectful.
Think on your feet. You should not expect to know all the trick questions and their answers beforehand. Keep a wide and open mind. Work on your sense of humour.
You should NEVER lose your temper.
Don't go to extremities. Be polite. This goes to both parties.
An Ideal Rag
An ideal ragger will be considerate to the juniors. The ideal rag will not exceed the limit to reach 'bullying'. It should be more about breaking the ice between them than to destroy any sense of respect. Creative stuff (singing, dancing, canvassing, acting) should be the norm. At the end of the rag, the ragged should be treated with good food and an encouraging smile.
The Hunted shall become the Hunter
Do you fear bitter experiences at the very start of your university life? Don't lose hope. Better times will come in a year when the new semester starts.
We expect you to be reasonable and sympathetic to your juniors. Remember how apprehensive you are feeling now. Don't make them do stuff you yourselves wouldn't do in good humour.