Journey Through Bangladesh
Chalanbil's Race Horses
Horse Racing Festival is organized every Baishakh a tradition that has been alive for decades. For the people of Chalanbill region (Pabna, Natore, Sirajganj, Bogra, Naogaon district), the love for horse racing is embedded in their tradition.
Ahmed Humayun Kabir Topu
We don't know how many years ago the traditional horse race competition began in Chalanbiil region. I have been participating in horse race competitions organized in different villages of Chalanbiil region for the last 30 years. Before that, my father also participated in horse race competitions in this region for about 35 years. This is a generation-old tradition to the people of Chalanbill region, says Md. Golzar Hossain, 50, a villager of Notabaria village in Bilchalan union of Chatmohar upazila. He added, “It is the inherited pride of my family that I, my father and grandfather participated in horse race competitions. I hope my next generation will keep the tradition alive.”
Like Golzar, there are many people in Chalanbill region who love horse racing festivals. For the people of Chalanbill region (Pabna, Natore, Sirajganj, Bogra, Naogaon district), the lure of excitement surrounding the game of speed is in-bred. Although there is no record of when the festivals started in this region, the villagers organize it regularly in Baishakh. “People of Chalanbill organize the traditional horse race competitions every year at Notabaria village of Chatmohar upazila. Horse owners from different districts of Chalanbill region participate in the race every year,” said Md. Azad Hossain Khalifa, the president of the Horse Race Organizing Committee.
The three day long horse race competition of 2011 ended on 23 April, Saturday. A colorful fair was also organized at Notabaria field marking the traditional festival. Over a hundred shops were set up in the village fair. These sorts of fairs typically link the villages and their inhabitants in one area. According to organizers, over two dozen horses from Pabna, Natore, Sirajganj and Bogra districts came to the festival this year. The competition was held in two categories: sprint using leg combination (Mill Dour) and hurdle race of horses (Dhap Dour).
“The traditional horse race festival is an assembly of the people of Chalanbill region. Although the natural wealth of Chalanbill is not as before, the people are still lively and keep old traditions alive,” says Md. Alek Sarkar, member of the festival organizing committee. The players of the horse race competition trained their horses for a whole year to participate in the competition and prove their supremacy. Md. Sarkar also said that without any assistance from any organization, the villagers organized the traditional festival this year. He urged organizations to patronize the traditional festival to enhance its grandeur.
Azad Hossain, a key organizer of the festival chaired the discussion of the prize distribution program. Sajedur Rahman, Abul Kalam Azad, Mohammed Ali, Hossain Ali spoke among others on the occasion. Two winners, Salim Hossain (Faridpur, Pabna) and Shajahan Ali (Sirajganj) received a television each as the winning prize.
(R) thedailystar.net 2011