Journey through Bangladesh
The Charak Festival
FOR hundreds of years, devotees have been celebrating the Charak festival. The traditional Charak Puja of the Hindu community has been celebrated too this year with religious fervor at the village Bothor in Chatmohar upazila under Pabna district. The traditional Charak festival begun on Chaitra 30th of the Bangla calendar (Saturday, 12/04/2008). The weeklong fair resumed at Bothor village marking the Charak festival.
“The Charak festival begins at Chaitra 30th of the Bangla Calendar and ends on Pahela Baishakh every year. But the Charak festival does not end there. Typically the Charak tree is kept in front of Bothor Shib Mondir for the devotees. Devotees lay down the wreath and devour the milk. The Charak tree would be closed on Chaitra 13” told the Sangit Saha Kinshuk, a member of the Charak festival celebrating committee.
According to the mythology, the God Mohadeb once arrived at the root of the Charak tree to convey the message of freedom of the Hindus. Since then Charak Puja has been held. The historical Charak tree stands at the center of the traditional Charak Festival.
Once upon a time when the lower classes of the Hindu communities celebrated the Charak Puja but now richer people also participate. In this Puja, Devotees devour milk and sugar on the root of Charak tree. Devotees from different areas of the country and the abroad too come to this festival every year. The traditional Charak festival is an example of communal and cultural harmony.
“Devotees come every year to the festival from Sri Lanka, Burma, and India. Upper class Hindus also come here celebrate the festival. The people of this region prepare themselves for this traditional festival. Not just the Hindu communities, the cross-section of the society and the visitors from different areas of the country come every year to celebrate the festival,” said Kinkor Kumar Saha, the secretary of the Charak Festival celebrating committee.
“I have come from Natore. When Chaitra comes, I wait eagerly for the Charak festival. Numerous people from different areas of the country come here to celebrate the festival. It is a mass assembly of a cross-section of people,” said 70 years old devotee Sibnath Sutradhar.
Not just the Hindu devotees but also several thousand people from different areas to this carnival. “I have heard many things about the Charak Mela. It is part of our heritage,” said Md. Shadier Rahman, Professor of Dulai College in Pabna District.
Useful household materials such as toys, handicrafts and other materials are sold in this fair. But the traders do not get the expected business this year as due to the excessive prices of the necessary commodities.
“I used to participate in this fair every year and earn a handsome profit. But I do expect business this year. Most of the rural people of this region would come and buy the materials. The excessive price rise of the daily necessities causes the sufferings to the rural people,” said Tarapada Malakar, a toy shop owner.
The Hindu community women come to the fair and buy the vermilion. Shikha Rani is one such housewife who went to the fair from the district head-quarter. There's a lot of ornamentation on display and for sale. This attracts huge crowds.
(R) thedailystar.net 2008