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The Big Day for Chakmas

Every year there is a day when we, Chakmas after getting up at daybreak find the air, the sunlight or even the cloudy sky unique in its own sort of way. On that day we, the pichchi polapain of the family do not get grounded for holding belching contest or anything odd as everyone gets too busy celebrating the BIG day or simply put our Eid, that we affectionately call 'Biju'.

Well, the name is sort of weird but once you get to know more about our culture and language these words will get placed among your everyday words like… kothin and pankha! There is even a place in Rangamati that is called 'Peda Ting Ting'. And yes, a bomb explodes in my tummy too every time I utter that name! Anyway the thing is I am getting PAID to write about Biju so, the lacklustre stuff follows.

Biju is observed mostly by the hill-people of the Chittaong Hill Tracts on the day before Pahela Baishakh. This is actually a three day celebration that starts two days before and ends on Pahela Baishakh. Each of these days, has its own name too! The first day is called 'Fool Biju', the second 'Mool Biju' and the third day 'Gorjje Gorjje Din' (Here is a leak, I am writing down all these hazardous words for teeth in this piece so more of you lot break your teeth trying to pronounce those and end up writing to the 'Dental Wise' column).

There is a traditional saying that if a young boy or girl gets up really early on the day of 'Fool Biju' and goes for a dip to the nearest river, the boy or girl might find something like a fruit called 'Bijugulo'. Finding this is supposed to be very good luck for the finder. But no one is really dumb enough to try the stunt. The 'Mool Biju' is the focal day of the celebrations which is also the last day of the Bengali month Chaitra.

The teen Chakma people celebrate this day just like Eid. We put on fancy clothes, walk with a swagger (!) and hold belching contests in our room resulting in the double digit number bottles of carbonated beverage getting finished within two hours time. By the way, this contest is just for fun and by fancy clothes I do NOT mean primitive one piece dresses that we put on and go ulala! We have our fair share of Levi's, Role Model and Bangobazar too! But the girls usually dress up in uber hot traditional dresses that are called 'pinon khadi'. Aside from that, there is a special delicacy that every family cooks on this day, named 'Paachong'. This is predominantly a vegetable dish. The twist is that it has not one but at least five vegetables in it though these days most people prepare it with more than a dozen vegetables usually avoiding meat.

On the 'Mool Biju' day people try to visit each and every household in the neighborhood and have a taste of the Paachong from every one of them. After so much feasting and visiting on the Mool Biju day the next day is supposedly kept for rest and thus named the 'Gorjje Gorjje Din' that if literally translated stands as 'Rolling Rolling Day'. How amusing!

Biju ROCKS in so many ways I can hardly get it all in this article. For example, when it comes to shopping for Biju we do not have to put up with the unnecessary price rise of everything that shoppers face just before Eid or Christmas. At that time whether you go to buy a pair of jeans from Bangobazar or from Levi's, the price of the product usually show off four digits in it without a dot within. I know that you know but still there might be some people who do not know!

Sadly, except for us, most people do not know that such a celebration even exists in Bangladesh. Also if it falls on a working day, we do have to get our bottoms inside school as our parents are not kind-hearted enough to let us bunk the classes for that day. Still some friends who got invited for a taste of Paachong the year before do remember the day and send us wishes. Amazingly those are the ones who usually champion in forgetting birthdays!

Biju is nothing religious though. It is just a cultural celebration our ancestors had celebrated, we are celebrating and hopefully will our offspring too. Lastly wishing a very happy Biju to everyone!

By Hitoishi Chakma

Dub Poetry

Originating in Jamaica in the 1970s, Dub Poetry is a form of performance poetry, spoken over reggae rhythms. A Dub Poet will normally have his performance prepared beforehand, and often even performs accompanied by a band.

Dub Poetry is very political in nature, and raises many socio-political questions while, true to its roots, also fights authority.

The style of Dub poetry was, in its early days, a distinctive form of Black Power rhetoric, Rasta imagery, and ghetto talk, forged into word chains with furious rhymes and fired by exploding reggae rhythms.

Having emerged as one of the most important militant voices of Black people, dub poetry continues the African oral tradition with a combination of the spoken word and the hip-hop sound of drums to help drive the rhythms of the poems. It largely ignores the official English language, preferring instead to use a combination of Creole and Rasta forms to give voice to their concerns.

Some famous Dub Poets: Linton Kwesi Johnston who made dub poetry famous in Britain, Oku Onuora and Mutabaruka who are Jamaica's best known Dub poets. Toronto has a wealth of Dub poets who mix their lyrics with jazz, Ahdri Zhina Mandiela, Lillian Allen and Clifton Joseph.

The foundation of dub poetry is word, sound and power and its themes are similar to those sung by reggae legend Bob Marley: white domination, western oppression, life in the ghetto, police brutality, racism, equality, justice and current economic issues. For example, in Jean Breeze's poem 'Aid', she writes: Four hundred years from the plantation whip / To the IMF grip / Aid travels with a bomb / watch out / Aid travels with a bomb / They rob and exploit you of your own / then send it back as a foreign loan / Interest is on it, regulations too / They will also / decide your policy / for you.

The purpose of Dub Poetry is not only to portray inhuman living conditions and injustice but also to counter-attack 'the enemy', which more often than not is the government (for example, Lillian Allen's 'I Fight Back').

Zephaniah a British Dub poet has written novels as well as poetry. He was put forward for the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry in 1989 and UK Poet Laureate in 1999, and was also offered an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2003, which he declined.

Many of the Dub Poets have published their work as volumes of written poetry as well as albums of poetry with music.

By Ahsan Sajid

Campus News

Independence commemorated @ Dhannmondi Tutorial School
That specific morning, we wake up with the sound of 21 cannon shots reverberating through the March air. The day is the 26th, our Independence Day. With a tinge of patriotism in the air, Dhanmondi Tutorial- like most other schools- has not lagged behind. To commemorate this day, the school published a wall magazine and hosted an art competition. Alongside, the students sang the National Anthem in chorus, remembering and paying respect to those who lost lives in those harrowing nine months. The ceremony was drawn to an end, with the teachers and the students taking oath to hold onto the pride of Independence and make the country proud, each on their own stand.

Onnesha reliving the glory of Independence….
In the month of Independence, a day long program was arranged in the Onnesha International School and College's Mymensingh premises. This was to encourage the students in promoting native cultural activities. The program was conducted in two segments.

The first segment comprised of three debates, recitation, jokes and acting. There was also a quiz contest for the audience to enjoy. The second phase had a more aesthetic side- with dance performances, singing and storytelling.

The well-organised and the entertaining event concluded with the distribution of prizes among the winners of the quiz and debate competitions. The program was inaugurated and chaired by the Principal, Ms. Nasreen Monem Khan. Many thank yous go out to the honourable guests, parents, students, teachers and staff for making the program a success.

Interschool debate competition ends
Holy Cross Debating Club arranged two-day Seventh Interschool Debate Competition ended on March 31. Twenty schools took part in the fray that started on March 30 through the opening speech of Sister Philomena Quia, headmistress, Holy Cross Girls' High School.

Motijheel Government Boys High School came out first and Motijheel Government Ideal School stood second. Thirteen best speakers from the previous competitions also participated.

Renowned writer Dr Muhammad Zafar Iqbal was the chief guest. Major (Rtd) Hamidul Hossain Tareq Bir Bikram was the special guest. Renowned rhymester Onik Khan; Namita Hasan, an artist of Shadhin Bangla Betar Kendro, Lily Haq and Group Captain Abu Zafar Chowdhury were among others.

The sponsors were Sena Kalyan Shangstha, Pubali Bank and Coca Cola. BDF gave technical assistance to the competition.


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