Volume 7| Issue 03| February 09, 2013|



  
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COVER STORY

Upholding Bengali Heritage

This year like the previous years, the attractions in these fairs included horse race, lathikhela (mock fight with sticks), Ha-do-do (Kabadi), Boat race, Jhapan-khela (risky game using several snakes), Kabigaan (light songs in the form of questions and answers between dueling poets) and Jatrapala (folk opera) at night. These fairs attract a large number of enthusiastic visitors every year, which is a positive sign since it continues to uphold our national culture. It is very important to have these fairs when there is a widespread practice of city based foreign culture that threatens to devour our cultural heritage to oblivion.
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Hossain Seraj

With the advent of winter, after harvesting of various crops like Aman paddy, people in rural areas usually have some money in their pockets to spare. In most of the villages of Magura district, this extra inflow of cash is spent with style. The people of the villages here engage in arranging some events for their recreation. These events comprise of elements that are taken from age-old traditions of Bengali culture.

Most of the events are arranged centering a mela (rural fair). These fairs attract a huge crowd. Enthusiastic people assemble to seize these rare occasions for recreation. The mela may be small or big depending on the occasion. But the attractions in the fairs appeal to the entire village. The traditional events of Bengali cultural heritage which are now fading away in rural Bangladesh recreated in their own initiatives by the rural people in Magura.

This year like the previous years, the attractions in these fairs included horse race, lathikhela (mock fight with sticks), Ha-do-do (Kabadi), Boat race, Jhapan-khela (risky game using several snakes), Kabigaan (light songs in the form of questions and answers between dueling poets) and Jatrapala (folk opera) at night. These fairs attract a large number of enthusiastic visitors every year, which is a positive sign since it continues to uphold our national culture. It is very important to have these fairs when there is a widespread practice of city based foreign culture that threatens to devour our cultural heritage to oblivion.

To observe these fairs, the venue and the adjoining villages wear a joyous festive mood. People from different parts of the country assemble at their relations' and friends' houses in the adjoining villages on the occasion of these traditional events of Bengali culture. Women, young or old, of almost all the houses in the villages are mostly seen busy in making sweets, indigenous cakes and other delicacies to entertain their guests.

"It's observable that in most of the rural festival like mela (rural fair), traditional events of Bengali culture have been arranged which is very much positive for Bengali culture as general people in their own initiatives have come forward to rear our cultural heritage", talking to this correspondent, a renowned cultural personality in Magura as well as a language veteran, Khan Ziaul Haque, said.

In their latest initiatives villagers of Beerpur under Raghobdair union in Magura sadar upazila held a day-long mela where apart from horse race and Ha-do-do (Kabadi), one of the traditional events of Bengali culture Lathikhela was also arranged. These events are rare even in villages, let alone in cities. With the relentless efforts of the organizers, w can hope to spread these events to the mainstream districts and have the entire country have a taste of the local heritage that have mesmerized our people since time immemorial.

These attractions have been present in the Magura district for a while now. Somehow the p0eople here have been consciously making efforts to keep these traditions alive. By the huge turnout of the young and the old, the male, the female and the kids, we can definitely say that these fairs have been a success.

People of all ages irrespective of their gender were seen assembled to enjoy the events held at the village.

“We organise the event every year mainly to save our age-old tradition from extinction as now a days our Bengali culture has been facing challenges by the foreign culture:' said Kabirul Islam a union parishad member in the area. He is also one of the organizers of the event.

Earlier, during the ongoing winter season, villagers of Khalia and Jhama in Mohammadpur upazila, Pukhuria, Vitasayeer, Barashia, Parla, Moghi, Sitarampur, Chandpur, Bhaina and Tengakhali in Magura sadar upazila, Goalpara and Bothiakhali villagers in Sreepur upazila also held fairs that featured similar events in the villages where hundreds of people flocked with much enthusiasm.

Commenting on the initiative of Magura villagers to hold traditional events like lathikhela, horse race, central Abritti Samonnoy Parishad's organizing secretary Mazharul Haque Lipu said, “They are now playing a key role in revitalising and also to expand the horizons of the Bengali cultural heritage". We hope these events will continue to take place for ages to come, so that our future generations can experience what it was like to be Bengali and proud about our culture.


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