CHAITRA SANKRANTI CELEBRATIONS
A touch of tradition in urban lifeCultural Correspondent
Chaitra Sankranti is an age-old tradition of saying goodbye to a year and welcoming the new year, in the rural areas of the country, by organising melas (fair) featuring ritualistic, traditional and entertaining performances, with a display of the arrays of traditional foods, ornaments and household goods.
The celebration ends with Pahela Biashakh celebrations, and brings together people, irrespective of creed and social class in the rural areas. Usually, rural communities arrange a weeklong programme to celebrate the end of a year and the beginning of another. The preparations start a month before Chaitra Shankranti and Pahela Baishakh.
These days, however, such celebrations of Chiatra Sankranti are a part of urban culture on a limited scale only, basically focusing on cultural programmes on the last day of the Bangla calendar.
Organising of such celebrations by various cultural organisations dates back to a decade. Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation and music school Surer Dhara have been celebrating Chaitra Sankranti for the past decade by holding cultural programmes on the last day of the Bangla year.
This year, the newly formed organisation Choitro Sankranti Alliance also celebrated Chaitra Sankranti by arranging a daylong programme on Friday at the Kalabagan Krira Chakra Ground.
Surer Dhara chalked out a colourful programme this year at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Agargaon, Dhaka, instead of its usual venue at the Lalmatia Government Girls School premises.
‘In response to the huge gathering in previous years, we’ve organised this year’s programme at a larger venue, jointly with Channel-i,’ chief of the organisation, Rabindra Sangeet diva Rezwana Chowdhury Bannya, told New Age.
‘Besides customs and traditions, we try to follow the philosophy of Tagore behind the celebration of Chaitra Sankranti. According to Tagore, Chaitra Sankranti is an occasion when we should look back and revise the whole year, with the notion to pick out the flaws we’ve made, to give a better start to the upcoming year,’ she added.
This year, BGTF celebrated Chaitra Sanktranti through a cultural programme at the Experimental Theatre Hall of BSA. Theatre activists from different troupes presented music and poetry while dance artistes presented dance recitals.
BGTF chairman Liaquat Ali Lucky, also the director of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, said, ‘Chaitra Sangkranti is a major occasion in our tradition. But in the life of city dwellers it was missing for a long time. As we began to observe the merriment, we found warm response from the urban people.’
Convener of the Chaitra Sangkranti Alliance, Maqsoodul Haque, said ‘Although the festival is still celebrated in rural communities around the country, it has been ignored in Dhaka. We are organising this festival this year to bring about a cultural revival of Bangla culture to urbanites.’
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