Dhaka, Oct 4 (UNB) - Sharadiya Durga Puja, the iconic celebration of the Hindu community both in Bangladesh and West Bengal, has its roots deep within the cultural heritage. No other festival of the Hindu religion is observed as widely as the celebration of the victory of the goddess Durga over the demon king Mahishasura.
However, the true origin of Durga Puja in Bengal varies according to different schools of historians and scholars.
It is widely believed that the celebration of Durga Puja began in the late 14th century when Raja Kangsha Narayan, ruler of the current Tahirpur, organised the festival in Autumn Durga Puja in Bengal.
Currently, Tahirpur is a municipal town of Bagmara Upazila in Rajshahi. It is said that Kangsha Narayan spent Tk 9 lakh to arrange the puja.
According to another source, the landlords of Dinajpur hosted the first Achala Durga Puja in then Bengal.
A third school states that the first Durga Puja was organised by Raja Nabakrishna Deb of Calcutta in honour of Lord Clive in 1757.
Although in earlier days the Puja was organised by a handful of aristocrats on both sides of the border, from the late 19th century this culture started declining in favour of ‘Baroari’ Durga Puja. It is a celebration where each locality celebrates the festival collectively.
According to legends, Ballal Sen built Dhakeshwari Temple in the 14thcentury which subsequently started Durga Puja in Dhaka. However, the construction of Dhakeshwari Temple by Ballal Sen is not yet proven as the ancient structure of the Dhakeswari temple that still stands was built during the British period.
The context of Durga Puja was somewhat unfamiliar to the locals of Dhaka as it was arranged and attended by wealthy families. However, following the partition in 1947, many wealthy Hindu families were forced to migrate to West Bengal and slowly the Hindus in Dhaka began to celebrate the festival as a community.
Over the course of time, the celebration of Durga Puja has seen growth everywhere and people of all religions see the festival as an opportunity to connect and be a glaring example of communal harmony.
“Although Goddess Durga is worshipped by the Hindu, the festival of Durga Puja is for everyone,” said Nirmal Kumar Chattarjee, General Secretary of Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad.
Nirmal Kumar Chatterjee said this year Durga Puja will be celebrated around 31398 mandaps across the country. “Within Dhaka city, a total of 237 mandaps have been set up to celebrate the occasion,” he said.
He told UNB that there have been several meetings with law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders to ensure no unwanted occurrence will take place amid the festivity.
About the vandalisation of idols in separate areas, he said these are the acts of miscreants who are looking to deviate the nation from the path of religious harmony.
According to statistics provided by the Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad, the Puja will be celebrated divisionally with the highest number 7,271 mandaps in Dhaka. Rangpur emerges as a major centre for the ‘sanatan dharma’ in Bangladesh with 5,304 mandaps.
Of the rest, there will be 4456 in Chattogram, 2546 in Sylhet, 4936 in Khulna, 3512 in Rajshahi, 1741 in Barishal and 1632 in Mymensingh.
At a meeting with police officials in early September, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Md Javed Patwary instructed all the officers to ensure foolproof security during the Durga Puja this year.
Aside from tighter security, the law enforcement agencies are closely monitoring social media to thwart any plot of spreading hate speechand hurting religious harmony.
The ceremonies of Durga Puja began on Friday through “Shashthi Puja” and it will reach a crescendo before drawing to a close on Tuesday (Oct 8).
Sunamganj, Oct 3 (UNB) – As women have grown more and more empowered to venture into new roles previously off limits to their gender, even the most ultra-conservative societies have been forced to accommodate them.
In Bangladesh, rowing boats by women to earn their livelihood is still not a common scene.
But Sumitra Rani Das, wife of Suken Das, of village Raghunathpur of Bahara union under remote Shalla upazila is one such woman who sets a distinctive example to maintain her poverty-stricken family just by rowing boat.
She does not have any house, nor even a piece of land and so she is just staying by the side of the river and ferrying people by rowing boat.
The UNB Correspondent while crossing river by her boat, Sumitra Das with tears rolling down from her cheeks, said, “My husband at home is old and suffering from respiratory problem…I Had no other option than to take oars to row the boat to maintain the family along with my three daughters.”
“At first, I was embarrassed to row the boat but now I don’t feel uncomfortable to do the job. Despite all this, I managed to marry off one of my daughters. However, she came back after failing to endure husband’s torture. I’m still facing problem with my remaining two daughters,” she further said.
Sumitra finds it difficult to purchase food, clothing and medicines for their three daughters. “Finding no other alternative, I’ve to ferry people in my boat from one side of the river to the other from 6 am to 11 pm every day and in this way I’ve earned my livelihood for the last four years,” she pointed out.
There is no such poverty in their locality, Sumitra said adding that “Being a woman, I’ve to row boat as I’ve no financial ability. I’ve no homestead, and so I’m living by building a thatched house on a small piece of government land by the riverside. In this situation, there’s no one to look after me. I heard that the government is building homes for people. But I’ve no house at all. Though they’re aware about my problems, our union chairman and members do not enquire about my welfare.”
On enquiry it was known that the name of Sumitra Rani is not there on the list of beneficiaries of the government’s ‘Asrayan’ project.
Bidhan Chandra Chowdhury, number 3 Bahara UP chairman, told UNB that he is extending all kinds of humanitarian assistance whenever she comes to him.
Advocate Dipu Ranjan Das, the Upazila Vice Chairman, said, “I think Sumitra Rani Das of Raghunathpur has proved that there is no difference of capability between men and women when it comes to struggle for life. I’ll go to the house of the woman and will try my best to help her out.”
Khulna, Oct 2 (UNB) – Amid the soaring prices of onion, the government has decided started to sell onion through the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) from October 1 to stabilise its overheated market.
But Khulna TCB chief Robiul Morshed says he does not know if onion will be sold in the district.
Onion prices have soared in the local market after India banned its export from Sunday to “improve domestic availability”.
The move pushed up onion prices to over Tk 100 at many places across Bangladesh.
In a swift move, the government decided to sell onion through TCB from Tuesday at Tk 45 per kg and the commerce secretary said there is an adequate stock. He said TCB will sell onion until the price becomes stable.
The government also moved to import onion from Myanmar, Turkey and Egypt.
But the assurances seem to have had little impact.
In Khulna, TCB started selling goods such as sugar, pulse and oil at nine points of the city, including Moylapota, from Monday. Many people had gone to the TCB truck hoping to purchase onion but had to return empty-handed.
Jashim Sarkar, a rickshaw puller, was one of them. “I was told that TCB is selling onion,” he said. “But there’s no onion here.”
Jaytun Begum, a resident of the area, was similarly disappointed. “I came here seeing a TCB truck but it’s not selling onion,” she said.
Rabiul Morshed, chief of Khulna TCB office, said onion is currently being sold in Dhaka. “There’s a possibility that it will be sold in Khulna through TCB after Dhaka,” he said.
The local variety of onion was being sold at Tk 120 per kg while the Indian variety cost Tk 90-95 at various markets in the city. At the wholesale market, local onion is being sold at Tk 100 per kg and the Indian variety at Tk 95.
Saiful Islam, a trader of Borobazar area, said India’s export ban pushed up the onion prices.
Milon Farazi, an importer, said: “Twenty truckloads of onion (400 tonnes) is needed every day to meet the demand in Khulna but only three truckloads were imported on Sunday. No onion was imported on Monday.”
Dinajpur, Oct 2 (UNB) – Thin aromatic rice is gaining popularity among farmers in the district with its high profit margin and low production cost.
Farmers in the area have been showing interest in cultivating the aromatic rice for the last few years, said sources at Dinajpur’s Department of Agricultural Extension.
The DAE sources said farmers have cultivated aromatic paddy in 90,000 hectares in the district and the BR-34 variety in 84,000 hectares.
DAE fixed a target of cultivating 273,790 hectares in 13 upazilas in the district while the farmers cultivated 259,033 hectares.
Local farmers told UNB that they used to cultivate BR-11, Payjam, Najirshail and other type of paddies and stored them for whole year but now they are cultivating aromatic thin rice for its high price and relatively low cost of cultivation.
Farmer Abdul Karim of Shaloki Boijjakuri village in Sadar upazila said he cultivated aromatic Jirashail rice in three acres and thick rice in one acre only.
Cultivating thick rice costs more while aromatic rice costs less but brings more profit, he added.
Farmer Mozammel Haque of Chuniapara under Sadar upazila, said “I’ve been cultivating aromatic rice in two acres for the last two years as it brings more profit than the other rice variety.”
Farmer Motahar of the same area said the price of aromatic rice remains high and stable around the year. Aromatic rice brings Tk 12,000 to Tk 16,000 profit per acre after meeting all costs for cultivation.
Local farmers also said they have already increased cultivating aromatic thin rice for more profit. Now they are cultivating this type of rice in 20-30 percent land.
Md Touhidul Iqubal, deputy director of Dinajpur Department of Agricultural Extension, said cultivation of aromatic rice has increased in the last few years because of its high profit.
Farmers in Dinajpur Sadar Chirirbandar, Birol upazilas and some other areas are cultivating aromatic rice on 80 to 90 percent land.
Farmers can produce four tonnes of rice in each hectare, he added.
Cumilla, Oct 1 (UNB) - After selling off sand and earth from the vicinity of the Gomti River, now encroachers have started selling off its land illegally, posing a serious threat to its protection dam and destroying its beauty.
Local people alleged that powerful people are now selling government land at Tk 1 lakh per decimal among the poor through stamped papers.
During a recent visit from Alekharchar Amtali Bridge area to Tikkarchar Bridge, the UNB correspondent found over a hundred houses, shops on both sides of the river and on the dam.
Talking to the correspondent, the so-called owners of the houses and shops said they bought the lands from some local influential people through stamped papers where there is a mention that nobody will claim the ownership of the land property but they will have to go away if the government wants them to do so.
Rafiqul Islam of Shahartali Chanpur area said six people, including Rafique himself, bought a land from Raja Mia at Tk 1 lakh per decimal a year back, and they have settled over there.
Mizanur Rahman also bought a piece of land from a man in Pachthubi union at Tk 1.5 lakh per decimal and set up a grocery shop over there.
Md Abdul Latif, executive engineer of Cumilla Water Development Board, said they prepared a list to evict establishments set up on the riverbank protection embankment after visiting the area and the list of 317 illegal structures was submitted to the Deputy Commissioner on September 22.
“If the land cannot be reclaimed from the encroachers right now, the embankment will be at stake,” he said adding that they will soon start the eviction drive as a letter in this regard has already been sent to the Deputy Commissioner.
Deputy Commissioner of Cumilla Abul Fazal Mir said they have got the list of illegal structures on government land from the Water Development Board (WDB) and the magistrate and police force are ready to assist the WDB in this regard whenever they want.
He said it has become difficult to save the country's many rivers due to illegal sand dredging and large-scale industrial pollution.
On Jul 1, 2019, the High Court declared the country's rivers as ‘living entities’, aiming to save them from encroachment.
The court appointed the country's River Conservation Commission as the legal guardian of all the waterways and directed other state agencies to fully assist them.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) carried out a massive eviction drive along the banks of the rivers around capital Dhaka, demolishing over 4,000 illegal structures.