Bangladesh's busy urbanites taste traditional, rural culture during Nabanna Utsav festival

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-17 17:21:01|Editor: Xiang Bo
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by Naim-Ul-Karim

DHAKA, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- People living in rural areas of Bangladesh are now extremely busy as the harvest season is in full swing.

Paddy fields have turned golden with the beginning of the harvest season in many rural villages and winter is a high time for traditional celebrations.

These days men are busy husking paddies into rice while women grind the new harvest into powder for making pitha (winter cakes) during the long, cold winter nights, after finishing household duties during the day.

For centuries there has seemingly been no change to the time-honored routine of extracting juice from the date palm tree, with the process ending in making jaggery to be used to make pitha during the traditional Nabanna Utsav festival time.

For many busy urbanites, it is not always possible to go to their village homes to join Nabanna Utsav, to mark the harvesting of the new crop.

It was for this reason that Nabanna Utsav was celebrated on Wednesday in Bangladesh's capital city of Dhaka, so busy city dwellers could have a break from their daily grind and youngsters could experience some traditional culture.

Hundreds of people, attired in traditional dresses, attended the main Nabanna festival ceremony held at the Institute of Fine Arts on Dhaka University campus Wednesday morning.

As always, the Nabanna festivities started in the morning with music, dance and food offerings, as well as a procession of cultural personalities and members of different organizations who marched along the streets of the university's campus.

Nabanna, however, is celebrated across Bangladesh, particularly in rural areas, on the first day of Agrahayan, which is the eighth month on the Bangla calendar, that falls on Nov. 15.

Rural Bangladeshi people typically celebrate Nabanna during the whole month of Agrahayan (November-December), while urban-based celebrations are usually limited to a single day's program.

As with previous years, hundreds of people, particularly cultural activists and their family members gathered at the main celebration venue on Wednesday morning to enjoy the Nabanna festival programs that featured solo and group renditions of folk songs, dance performances, recitations and such like.

The main attraction of the Nabanna celebration, however, are the varieties of handmade pitha.

Professor Akhtaruzzman, vice-chancellor at the Dhaka University, among other noted personalities, was present at the festival held at the university in the capital.

Jatiyo Nabanna Utshab Udjapan Parshad or National Harvest Festival committee has been holding the festival in Dhaka since 1999 to reintroduce urban people to the age-old cultural heritage of rural Bengal.

Visitors had the opportunity to enjoy many rural delicacies.

"I'm very glad to have the opportunity to come to this Nabanna festival. I had no idea what it was about, but now I understand," said Nahid Hossain, a university student who was born and brought up in the city.

Rural life is quite amazing, he said and added that the arrangement of such seasonal festivals in cities and towns will build bridges between rural and urban gaps.

Another student, Rafia Akter said Dhaka dwellers could get a taste of traditional delicacies, which is a rare opportunity for busy people living in the city.

The festival is also celebrated by staging Nabanna mela (heritage fairs) that impart an image of rural Bangladesh.

Nabanna is one of the numerous Bangladesh festivals that gave the name "baro mase tero parban" (thirteen festivals in twelve months) to the land of Bengal.