Thursday, September 21, 2023

Chaitra Sankranti, Pahela Baishakh in rural Bangladesh

Most communities in rural Bangladesh celebrate Chaitra Sankranti and Pahela Baishakh following the age-old traditions. The celebrations bring together people, irrespective of their creed and social differences.
Usually rural people arrange weeklong programmes to celebrate the end of a year and the beginning of another. The preparations start a month before Chaitra Sankranti and Pahela Baishakh. An interesting aspect of these festivals is that Chaitra Sankranti has more colour than Pahela Baishakh.
The festivities begin with ‘Gajoner Mela’ and ‘Charok’ — two major elements of Chaitra Sankranti celebration. Among Bengalis and other ethnic minorities (also known as indigenous people) the nature of the celebrations may vary, but the spirit is the same: well wishes, merriment and festivity.
Events usually included in such festivals can be categorised in three groups: ritual based performances, customs and traditions, and entertainment.
Various ritualistic performances reflecting the age-old belief of rural people are important aspects of the Chaitra Sankranti festivity. In the rural areas, the Hindus perform several ritualistic art forms such as Kanta Bhanga-Hajrapita, Ashtogaan and Gourakkho Puja throughout the Bengali month of Chaitra, particularly on Chaitra Shankranti.
On the eve of Chaitra Sankranti, Sanyasis demonstrate their ability to endure extreme pain and discomfort by piercing their bodies with sharp objects.
Sanyasis of the Baishna Kapali Sampraday (a Hindu cult) believe that the ritualistic Hajrapita-Kanta Bhanga on the Chaitra Sankranti eve has the effect of exorcism— believing that it would free them of evil in the coming year.
With painted bodies, and wearing long hair and carrying tridents and other sharp objects, they give a horrifying and hypnotic performance by climbing on top of khejur trees and smashing thorns with their bare toes.
Ashtogaan is another kind of ritualistic kirtan-based performance practised throughout the month of Chaitra by the Hindu communities in the rural areas of southwestern Bangladesh. Ashtogaan highlights the essence of divine love for humanity through narrating the myths of the four great epochs in Hinduism: Satya Jug, Treta Jug, Dwapar Jug and Koli Jug. Leela (feats celebrating divinity) of Lakshmi-Narayan, Ram-Sita, Radha-Krishna and Gaor-Nitai are performed as representations of the four ages.
The artistes involved in these performances narrate Leelas with painted faces outside houses. During the narration, artistes enact the roles of Narayan, Ram, Krishna Lakshmi, Sita, Radha and other divine beings. The tune is similar to that of kirtan. Typical instruments like harmonium, dholok, kartal and bansi are used. The choir presents a part of the performance at one house and then moves to another house – a practice which can be likened to travelling theatre.
Another type of ritualistic performance is Gourakkho Puja which is usually performed at the cowsheds on the Pahela Baishakh eve by ringing bells and chanting for the well being of the cattle owned by both Hindus and Muslims in the South-West part of the country. The tune of performance is also similar to traditional kirtan.
Such celebration of the Chaitra Sangkranti and Pahela Baishakh, one after the other, creates opportunities for the artisans to sell handicrafts at the ‘Chaitra Sankranti Mela’. The mela is the most colourful event on Chaitra Shankranti and Pahela Baishakh. People from all communities participate in the festivities.
Though this type of mela is popularly known as Baishakhi mela in the urban areas, in the villages these fairs begin on Chaitra Shankranti eve and continue for a week. They are also known as ‘Gajoner Mela’.
Agricultural products, traditional handicrafts, handmade toys, as well as food and sweets are sold there. These events also provide entertainment — with singers, dancers and jatra. Snake charmers display their prowess over hooded cobras.
A highlight of Pahela Baishakh is to open a halkhata (a new book of accounts), which has been a tradition since the times of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Initially it was a financial affair but now halkhata has become an inseparable custom of Baishakhi celebrations.
The traders and businessmen close their old account books and open new ones. They invite their customers to share sweets and renew their business ties. Traders of all communities observe the day.
Music is definitely the main attractions during the period presented in melas and at times by a ghat or under a big tree. Alongside baul songs, traditional artistes perform other folk genres such as pallapalli gaan, jari gaan and Gazir gaan.
The rural people also enthusiastically participate in several traditional sports like lathikhela, ha-du-du and dariyabanda. Professional lathials display their prowess and mettle in this game where the players combat with bamboo sticks, swords and spears with the beats of dhol and kansha.
Indigenous groups living across the country also celebrate Chaitra Sangkranti and Pahela Baishakh.


Courtesy of New Age

Related News

Shilpakala Academy organizes exhibition of artist Ismail Chowdhury’s artwork

Cultural Desk : Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy organized a solo painting exhibition of painter Ismail Chowdhury. Painter Ismail Chowdhury has participated in more than half a hundred solo and joint exhibitions in various countries including Bangladesh, Japan, USA, Italy, Nepal, and Bhutan, reads a press release. The elite and talented artists of the country have ... Read more

Feroza Begum’s 9th death anniv today

Cultural Desk : Today is the ninth anniversary of the death of the legendary Nazrul Sangeet singer Feroza Begum. Feroza Begum was born on July 28, 1926 to Khan Bahadur Mohammad Ismail and Begum Kawakabonnessa. Drawn to music at an early age, Feroza Begum started her formal music education under the tutelage of Chitta ... Read more

Bhupen Hazarika’s birth anniv today

Cultural Desk : Today is the 97th anniversary of the birth of eminent singer, lyricist and musician Bhupen Hazarika, who is still popular among music lovers in Bangladesh. He conquered the heart of thousands in Bangladesh rendering timeless songs, including Manush Manusher Janya, Ami Ek jajabar, Amra Korbo joy, Bistirna Duparer, Megh Thom Thom ... Read more

IUB organises musical evening to celebrate Rabindra-Nazrul Jayanti

Cultural Desk : A musical evening was organised at the Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB) campus in Dhaka’s Bashundhara Residential Area on Thursday (27 July) to mark the birth anniversaries of Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam. Renowned singers Adity Mohsin and Bijon Chandra Mistry performed Rabindra Sangeet and Nazrul Geeti respectively. IUB’s Kazi Nazrul ... Read more

Dhaka Theater to celebrate golden jubilee this year

Cultural Desk : Marking the golden jubilee of one of the prolific theatre troupes of the country, Dhaka Theater will celebrate its 50 years on July 29. Established in 1973 by freedom fighter and noted cultural personality Nasir Uddin Yusuff, along with some brave freedom fighters, the troupe earned acclaim in both nationally and ... Read more

Sourav Chowdhury’s 5th solo exhibition underway at AFD

Cultural Desk : The 5th solo art exhibition of Sourav Chowdhury titled “Eternal Existence” has begun at Alliance Française de Dhaka. The inaugural ceremony of the exhibition was held on Friday, 21 July 2023 at 6 pm at La Galerie. Eminent artist Prof. Rafiqun Nabi, Chargé d’affaires of the Embassy of France in Bangladesh, ... Read more

Ten Years After Rana Plaza show opens at Drik Gallery on Friday

Cultural Desk : Ten Years After Rana Plaza, an immersive exhibition marking ten years of the Rana Plaza disaster through interdisciplinary works on the subject by Bangladeshi photographer and filmmaker, Ismail Ferdous, is set to begin on Friday (21 July) at Drik Gallery, Dhaka, said a press release. Following the tragic collapse of the ... Read more

Bangla Academy pays tribute to Dr Muhammad Shahidullah

Cultural Desk : Bangla Academy paid tribute to educationist, writer, philologist and linguist Dr Muhammad Shahidullah organising a commemorative programme at its Syed Waliullah Conference Room on Tuesday. The academy organised the programme marking the 138th anniversary of the birth of Dr Muhammad Shahidullah, which was also streamed on the Facebook page of the ... Read more

25th National Fine Arts Exhibition 2023 ends July 15

Cultural Desk : The 5th National Fine Arts Exhibition-2023 is ongoing under the management of the fine arts department organised by Shilpakala Academy. The opening ceremony of the 25th National Fine Arts Exhibition was held on May 28th. The exhibition in which artists from all over the country have participated is coming to a ... Read more

Parents should encourage children pursue dance: discussants

Cultural Desk : Discussants have said that children should be encouraged to pursue dance so that they can grow up healthy individuals. The made the remarks while speaking at a programme organised by dance organisation Nrittangan at the auditorium of National Music and Dance Centre of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on Wednesday. The organisation arranged ... Read more

Shilpakala stages ‘Hamlet’

Cultural Desk : Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy staged its acclaimed production titled Hamlet at the National Theatre Hall of the academy on Friday. The play, written by William Shakespeare, has been translated into Bangla by Syed Shamsul Haq. Thespian Ataur Rahman has directed the production. Set in Denmark, Hamlet depicts Prince Hamlet and his attempts ... Read more

Renowned Indian author Samaresh Majumdar dies

Cultural Desk : Renowned Indian author Samaresh Majumdar died in a hospital in Kolkata of Indian state of West Bengal on Monday late afternoon, reports Anandabazar Patrika Online. The report said that the author died at about 5:45pm on Monday. He was 81. Samaresh was suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for more than ... Read more

Tagore’s 162nd birth anniversary today

Cultural Desk : Today is the 162nd birth anniversary of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, one of history’s most revered poets and writers, towering above all others in the Bangla canon. Kabiguru Rabindranath, was born at Jorasanko in Kolkata on 25 Baishakh, 1268 (May 7, 1861). He became Asia’s first Nobel laureate after winning the ... Read more

Fourth anniversary of Subir Nandi’s death today

Entertainment Desk : Today is the fourth anniversary of the death of Ekushey Padak-winning singer Subir Nandi, whose contribution to Bangla songs made him a household name, affecting the way how music lovers perceive songs and singing in the post-independence Bangladesh. On November 30, 1953, Subir Nandi was born at Teliapara Tea Estate in ... Read more

The musings of sway

Endless dance to the universal rhythm Sudeshna Swayamprabha Tathoi Arts allow for a semblance of normalcy, an escape from the otherwise cruel realities and crises of the present world. One would find solace in the embrace of arts, diverting the mind to provide a means of reflection, to find beauty in life, to enable self-expression. ... Read more

Sisimpur celebrates its 19th anniversary

Cultural Desk : Popular children’s television series Sisimpur will celebrate its 19th anniversary in Bangladesh on April 15, said a press release. Sisimpur began its journey with the aim to turn learning into a more enjoyable experience for pre-primary and primary level children. Sesame Workshop Bangladesh initiated Sisimpur in Bangladesh with the support of ... Read more

A modest step towards former greatness

Cultural Desk : The Lalbagh Kella, also known as the Lalbagh Fort, was built by Prince Muhammad Azam, third son of Emperor Aurangzeb, and is arguably the most magnificent 17th-century structure still standing in Dhaka. Attracting thousands of visitors every day, this tourist destination has undergone numerous renovations over the centuries, but perhaps few ... Read more

Posthumous Swadhinata Padak awarded to Selim Al Deen

Cultural Desk : The Swadhinata Padak, Bangladesh’s highest civilian award, the Cabinet Division announced awardees for this year yesterday. Nine individuals and one institution have been chosen for this year’s Swadhinata Padak, across several categories. Playwright Dr Mohammad Mainuddin Ahmed (Selim Al Deen) has been nominated posthumously for the award under the “Literature” category, ... Read more

“Glory of Women” features sculptures and paintings celebrate womanhood

Cultural Desk : In her sculptures and watercolor paintings on display in her solo art exhibition at the Abinta Gallery of Fine Arts in Badda in the capital, artist Sigma Haque Angkan has portrayed womanhood, motherhood, and nature. She has displayed 40 sculptures and 22 watercolour paintings in the two-week exhibition titled Glory of ... Read more

Sixth Dhaka Art Summit gets underway on Friday

Cultural Desk : The biggest exhibition platform for art and architecture in Bangladesh, Dhaka Art Summit (DAS)will start on Friday (February 3). The sixth DAS will have the Bengali theme of “Bonna” (flood) as its basis. The event will feature over 160 local and international artists. Topics like climate change and gender relations will ... Read more