Eid-ul-Fitr, the biggest religious festival of Muslims, means happiness and festivity: People buy new dresses and enjoy the day with special dishes.
But not so for over three lakh families in the 165 char areas ( river shoals) of Gaibandha district. They are too poor to buy new dresses and make special meal for the festival.
This year too there won’t be any joy as the char people can hardly manage three meals a day. Eid-ul-Fitr will be celebrated in Bangladesh on Tuesday.
Eid means no special day for them as most of the people in the char areas are jobless and landless.
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It is difficult for them to arrange good food and new dresses on the occasion of Eid.
They have no lands of their own and so they migrate to different districts to work as day labourers.
The char people are deprived of their basic needs including education, work, food, health and shelter. The residents are living in abject poverty.
Besides, they struggle to survive are natural disasters like flood are common.
They are also deprived of getting any relief under government programmes.
There are four chars along the Teesta river—Kapasia, Belka, Sripur and Haripur in Sundarganj upazila of the district.
During a recent visit to Kapasia char, north-east of Gaibandha district town, this correspondent spoke with some families.
The residents of Lalchamar village claimed that they did not receive any relief materials.
As a result, the men have to go to different other districts during paddy harvesting season to work as day labourers to earn a livelihood.
Moyna Begum, a woman of the village, said her husband Moynul Mia had gone out for work and did not return yet. “I could not buy anything for my three children for Eid. My husband has promised to return soon and buy everything.”
The condition of many day labourers' families in Haldia of Saghata upazila, Phulchhari, Gazaria, Uria, Kanchipara of Phulchhari upazila, Kamarjani, Mollarchar, Arendabari of Gaibandha Sadar upazila and 16 unions of the district is no better.
People of the char areas in a group had gone to other districts where they stay for months.
On the night before Eid, they usually return home to celebrate the festival with their families.
Ainul Haque from Lalchamar Char said this year too many people from the char areas have gone to many brick kilns and paddy fields but they are yet to return home.
The women from many of such families could manage to buy sugar and vermicelli, a special Eid food, after taking loans. They hardly can manage to get pulao and meat or buy new dresses for their children.
Saiduzzaman, chairman of Mollarchar union of Sadar upazila, said it is difficult to meet the demand of all with whatever little relief received from the government.
Aminuzzaman Rinku, chairman of Ghagoa union, said the people of char areas have no job and most of the time the male person of a family remains out of home for work in other districts.
Eid here does not bring anything special for them, he said.