Uncommon festivals across Bangladesh have their own stories to tell
Bangladesh is a traditionally and culturally rich country. Uncountable festivals are celebrated throughout the country every year. Among them, some are not only famous locally but globally as well, like International Mother Language Day. However, there are still some festivals which are not as well-known.
Book exchange festival
In order to not let books die in the dust after they have been read once, and to allow the books to come back to their worth again by handing them over to a new reader, a day-long book exchange festival was held on February 26, 2021 at Dhaka’s Rabindra Shorobor.
Around 2,000 book lovers had participated in this festival and exchanged a significantly large number of books among themselves, amounting to 12,000 books. “Boi Bondhu,” a social service organization and the organizer of the book exchange festival, expressed that they wanted to organize such festivals throughout the country at divisional and city levels as well in the future.
A festival to celebrate a fruit! Yes, that’s right. In 2019, a festival was held in Dhaka’s Narsingdi district to celebrate a fruit named longan (locally known as “lotkon”), which is not only a fruit to those who were celebrating. It was something they were proud of and known for all over Bangladesh. Every participant of the festival was entertained with soft and sweet-sour longans.
A longan-eating competition was also held, and had a prize set for the winner as well. An organization named Himu Paribahan organized this festival on July 24, 2019 at Narsingdi Government College, with a view to further uplift the popularity of Narsingdi’s longans throughout the country.
Paddy seed exchange festival
As the staple food of the people of Bangladesh is rice, which comes from paddy, over the centuries numerous types of paddies have been invented by farmers and scientists on the soil of Bangladesh.
With a goal of saving those paddies from going extinct and securing the agricultural heritage of the country, farmer and extinct paddy seed collector Yusuf Molla introduced a paddy seed exchange festival that he has been organizing every year since 2015 at his Barendra Krishi Beej Bank situated in Rajshahi.
This festival is also held to discover and promote new types of paddies invented or discovered by farmers across the country. This year, the festival was held on January 26. As of then, the farmer had 310 types of paddy seeds in his collection.
The name of this festival says a lot about its uniqueness. It was held on December 31, 2019 at Nurpur village of greater Dhaka’s Munshiganj district. To strengthen the bonding among the villagers and have them spend some quality time together, Nurpur Bastobayon Parishad organized this festival, where the youths of Nurpur decorated their village with colourful papers and clothes.
There were pitha stalls where the pithas came from different homes in the village.
Stalls were set up for kids’ toys and various other kinds of snacks, too. In this festival, there was no rich, there was no poor. All the villagers enjoyed this festival together with full contentment and a resolution to live in harmony and remain united ever after.
The festivals discussed above are not known to a lot of people. But, one common factor among these festivals is that they are or were not celebrated for the sake of enjoyment only -- each of them had a purpose e.g. the purpose of spreading knowledge, saving or uplifting the image of a heritage, or solidifying social ties. These uncommon festivals have their own stories to tell and learnings to give, bringing some of them into our acclimatization will not only allow us to enrich our knowledge hub but also realize the importance festivals can have in our lives.
Nafis Ehsas Chowdhury is a freelance contributor.