Abdus Shakoor Shah
Artist Abdus Shakoor Shah is widely recognised for folk motifs and visual ballads in his paintings.
The artist reminisced on his childhood at Nishindhara in Bogra district.
“When I was a child, Bogra and the entire northern region were greatly neglected in terms of economic development. There was a big Eidgah Maidan by our village where people from different parts of the area used to come for Eid prayers. I went to the Eidgah with my cousins and uncles.
“There was a big pond in our village where villagers washed themselves on Eid day. The pond was deep and the water was clear. We enjoyed taking a dip early in the morning with relatives and neighbours.
“Before going for Eid prayers, we used to eat dudh-shemai. Bogra’s shemai was very popular in the country. On Eid day, we would wear new clothes and roam around the village with friends. In those days, Eidi was not a custom in our area, as northern Bengal was underdeveloped and badly off.
“For the special Eid meal, we would all gather at our yard and sit on a big mat. The meal consisted of korma, begun bhaja, potol bhaja and pulao. The day after Eid, villagers would play danguli, a rural game. At least 30 players took part in the game. We enjoyed it thoroughly.”
Painter Mohammad Iqbal has earned acclaim for his moving works on children. He is currently teaching at the Drawing and Painting Department, Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka.
The artist grew up in Chuadanga district. Recalling past Eids, Iqbal said: “Wearing new clothes was the best part of Eid. I have many siblings and my father would buy new clothes for all of us.”
“Chand raat (Eid eve) was very exciting for us. We would chat till midnight and make plans for Eid day. Back in the day, Eid meant spending time with cousins and friends and enjoying special dishes. Even going to relatives’ homes was fun, as it meant more food and Eidi.
“Eid, during childhood, used to be more special and joyous than they are at present. I feel that our Eid days were far more exciting than those of my children. In Dhaka, people have become very mechanical. Children do not have ample space to play. They are becoming more sedentary and isolated. Nowadays, kids don’t even seem interested in watching the moon on Eid eve; they’d rather stare at the television.”
Eid celebration has gone through some changes. Our parents made sure we had new clothes and shoes for the auspicious occasion. Sometimes we had tailor-made clothes and it was exciting watching the tailor working on our clothes at the shop. After they were ready we would invariably hide it from our friends so that we could surprise everyone on Eid day.
Apart from that, there was the excitement of visiting the elders and collecting salami from them. When we lived in Jessore, it was customary to visit our grandfather on Eid day.
My siblings — Shuchanda, Champa — and I had a lot of fun together. Suchanda apa, as our eldest, would dress me up for the day. We had a competition on who could get ready earliest. We also used to watch newly released films at the theatres in Jessore. Later, when we shifted to Dhaka, this trend of watching films continued: we would go to Naaz and Gulistan. It is hard to forget those days.
My childhood Eids, spent with my parents, grandparents and siblings, are unforgettable. Other than wearing new clothes, on the special day we would make beautiful designs on our palms with mehdi. During Ramzan, we would often compete on who fasted on the most number of days. After the tenth Ramzan we would be more focused on the big occasion ahead. On the eve of Eid we would all gather on the rooftops to see the new moon.
Every year Eid comes and goes. But undoubtedly the gusto and the entertainment associated with it are gradually diminishing. There are times when I think about the past and wonder where those days have gone. I have a feeling that most people, even after they grow up, look back to their carefree days and beautiful childhood memories.
I still go back to those days: when we caught a glimpse of the new moon, all the children would gather and start jumping and screaming in excitement and that was how we would express our joy.
The entire night we would work out plans of where to go and how to spend the day. After paying a visit to the neighbours we would spend the Eidi that we had collected. During Eid we would usually wear panjabi-pyjama in the morning and shirts and trousers in the evening. We still do enjoy Eid holidays, but definitely the carefree life was the best of all.
My memories of Eid days are truly unmatched. I was raised in Tangail and the environment was purely pastoral. I remember several occasions when we would all go to my nana-bari (maternal grandfather’s house) on an ox-cart. On Eid day, a special menu of pulao, korma, and desserts (pitha, payesh etc) was invariably served up. Relatives would come visit us in new attire while we would go to their houses flaunting our new clothes as well.
Moon sighting was another important aspect on the eve of Eid. The moment someone sighted the crescent moon, excitement filled our hearts.
Wish I could go back to those days.
During Eid most of my uncles and aunts would come to our house. Since I was the youngest among the cousins, everyone got nice gifts for me. This way every year during Eid I had a huge collection of clothes. What I liked most was after the Eid prayers it was customary to greet the elders and they would in return give us Eidi.
Eid celebrations for me were very important and filled with excitement till the age of seven. Buying new clothes, taking them to the tailor to have them stitched and then putting them under our pillows so that others didn’t get to see them was quite common for the children. Wearing a tupi (cap) on the last three days of Ramzan was a must for me. But at the age of eight, when my mother passed away, Eid celebrations lost their appeal. I still manage to participate in the grand celebration but somehow the same satisfaction is missing.
I was born in Borguna town and lived there till my HSC exams. Celebrating Eid was fun during those days. The most important thing of all was buying new clothes and flaunting them on Eid day. Now my son is five years old and I try to find the same excitement through him. I go back to my early days when I observe his excitement during Eid.
My father was in the government service and he was transferred several times to a lot of districts. So, we’ve been to a lot of places in the country and experienced Eid in different settings. New clothes and shoes were a must have for us during the two Eid celebrations. Director-actor Salauddin Lavlu and I have been great friends since childhood; our fathers worked together. On Eid day we would both roam about and enjoy ourselves to the fullest. Even now we do enjoy Eid day, but somehow as a child it was much more fun.
Courtesy of The Daily Star