In the Bengali way of life folk arts, crafts and religious and cultural festivals are very important. Although some of these traditions are beginning to die out, it is through such skills as the making of Noshki Katha that a record of the old practices can be kept.
Contribution of Folk culture in shaping the Culture of Bangladesh
Bengali folk arts, crafts, festivals and games are interrelated. Traditional art and craft, festivals and games seem now to be process of extinction. The most popularly practiced festivals are the religious ones.
Folk art and crafts include making of ornaments, clothes, toys tapestry, utility items, etc. Each item that is produced is the outcome of the inner creativity of the artist and made the gifts that nature offers in the day to day rustic life. Bengali art and craft has an extraordinary power of influencing onlookers, which include both adults and children.
Every single piece of the famous Nokshi Katha, the hand embroidered tapestry, has a touch of the delicate fingers and workmanship of at least four female artists working at a time. THE Nokshi Katha depicts the Bengali rustic life through needlework, examples of which range form the Shapla or the water lily (the national flower of Bangladesh) floating in the ponds, rustic boys flying kites, an abolescent shepherd playing his flute while the animals graze by or even a young girl taking food for her father or her husband who is busy harvesting the crops in the fields.
Every little aspect of village life is presderved amog the threads of the tapestry. This is indeed a God-gifted quality acquired by these workers, as few of the artists have ever been to school or have had any vocational training.
Hand made ornaments are designed and worked upon both by male and female craftsmen, who produce exotic and intricate designs and sell these at very cheap rice in spite of the tremendous effort put in. Other utilitarian products like hand fans, utensils, clothes, handicrafts, also display intricate workmanship and ornamental designs.
Folk artists of Bangladesh use bamboo, cane, clay, shells, fabrics, fibre, grass, horns, leaf, leather, seeds, wood, etc to make various traditional crafts. the fascinating items made from these raw materials have, for ages, been preserved in the various museums of the country which, at the same time, are being used by the different strata of people living in Bengal. Most essential domestic objects, such as posts and pans made of clay, are available in miniature sizes to be used as toys by the rustic children of Bengal.
As the older artisans concentrate on making utensils and other products, their children imitate their parents and improve their own creativity. People of the influential class decorate their gardens and the interior of their houses with clay paraphernalia and terracotta. The people of Bangladesh have excelled in the production of pottery through a high degree of a craftsmanship.
The silt deposits carried by great rivers like the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghan form clay, paving the way to the artistic production of clay objects. Hand made pottery is predominantly the art of rustic women.
The Hindu community, comprising the Kumar and Patua castes, specialize in making a variety of dolls and toys. The big clay jars and vases are the creations of the Kumar and patua menfolk.
Religious and cultural festivals
Bangladesh enjoys a variety of festivals. The Bengali word for festival is utsob, which means assembly of people and merry-making. Traditional folk festivals have variety, colour, fun and entertainment. Other than the religious ones, most festivals are seasonal and are secular in nature.
The religious festivals are practiced to attain divine blessings, some of which are parts of religious traditions. Devotional lyrics addressed to the beauty of nature and the philosophy related to it serve as an inspiration to life.
Melas or festivals could also include an exhibition of handicrafts of the cottage industries, folk crafts and games played as competitions, carnivals, dances, musical performances, comic plays, jatra (open stage Bengali drama), circus, fireworks and gambling.
Some of the religious festivals and fairs of the different religions are:
Muharram (Islamic New Year), Eid-e-Miladunnabi (birth and death anniversary), Eid-ul-Azha, Eid –Ul-Fitr
Dhol jatra, Durga Puja, Saraswati Puja, Laxmi Puja
Baddho Purnima, Maghi Purnima, Tithi Puja, Ashwri Purnima
Pahela Bishakhi (Bengali New Year), Bijoy Mela of 16 December (Victory celebration), Ekushey Boi Mela Ekushey February, Nabanna Utshob (Festival to celebrate the harvesting), chaittra sankranti
Noboborsho, Rth Tana Utshob
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