Held every year on the last day of the Bengali month of Paush, kite festival has gained traction among the people of old Dhaka
Bappi, a class XI student, was going to Jinjira from Mirpur in the capital with a group of 5-6 friends to partake in traditional Shakrain festival (kite festival) at one of their friend's house.
Besides, the flying of kites and fireworks that they would enjoy, the DJ party was the topic of their discussion which is an added dimension to the traditional festival observed every year in old Dhaka.
The century-old Shakrain festival of Bengal was celebrated on Thursday with the slogan -- Let's fly kite and cherish Bengal heritage.
Held every year on the last day of the Bengali month of Paush, this festival has gained traction among the people of old Dhaka, however, the DJ party is now the centre of interest among the youth in the festival, which has a history and tradition of almost two hundred and fifty years.
The mood of Laxmibazar, Bangshal, Tatibazar and Sutrapur residents was very vibrant on the day of festival.
Although the flying of kite is less during the day, when the night falls, festival takes a more joyous turn with the addition of DJ party that goes on till late night.
While walking from Laxmibazar in the capital to Sutrapur, several youths from the area were seen climbing up the roof of their houses with party equipment at night.
When asked, a person named Sajjad said he along with his friends would arrange various events together.
"Everyone was flying kites in the afternoon, and at night, there would be dance, songs with the arrangement of food on the roof."
The locals in old Dhaka said a myriad of artistic patterns had been added to the making of Shakrain kites for ages.
"If you can't make a kite in the right size, the kite will not be able to match the blue colour of the sky," they said.
This is why colorful kites are made at the Festival. Gowadar, Chokdar, Masdar, Garudan, Lejlamba, Charbhuyadar, Pandar, Lenthandar, Gayel dragons are some of the kinds made of colorful paper, polybags and bamboo parts.
Alim Uddin, who ferries kites on the way, said he mainly does it as a seasonal business.
"I have been selling the kites for a few days. The business is fairly good. There would be a little more business on Thursday and Friday."
The demand for colourful kites is high, the seller said, adding that he sells the product at various fairs outside Dhaka.
The Dhaka residents have been observing the kite festival for ages at the end of the Bengali month of Paush and the beginning of the month of Magh.
Amulya Chandra Das, a local resident at Sutrapur, told The Business Standard that the culture relating to Paush Sankranti (End of Paush) was once limited to the followers of traditional religions, but now it has turned into a festival for all in old Dhaka.
The competition of kite flying is always followed by winter cake festival -- pithapuli.
Now the boys and girls organise parties to have extra fun. However, as a result of youth participation, lantern-flying, fireworks, decorative lighting are now added dimension to the occasion, he said.
Meanwhile, the Shakrain Dragon Festival has been organised in old Dhaka at the initiative of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC). The two-day event was inaugurated by Dhaka South City Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh.
The mayor also flew a kite at the inauguration of the festival at Patla Khan Lane in old Dhaka Thursday afternoon.
He spent the afternoon flying kites with his family and attending the cake festival with local political, socio-cultural leaders and journalists.
Taposh said: "An initiative has been taken to spread the festival to the people of the entire city and present it to the world."
To this end, Dhaka South City Corporation will organise this festival every year from now on, he said, adding that through this the culture of the capital would be showcased to the world.
"This is the first time that a kite festival has been organised in 75 wards on Thursday at the initiative of the city Corporation," said the mayor.
A total of 10,000 kites had been provided to the councilors to hold this festival on a larger scale.
Commenting on the coronavirus, Taposh said the pandemic has done a lot of harm since last March. "We want to let the world know that we know how to celebrate and enjoy."
Speaking at a kite festival at Dhupkhola ground in Gandaria on Thursday, Information Minister Hasan Mahmud called upon all to emphasise the need for preservation and nurturing of the culture of Bengal in order to preserve the country's indigenous heritage in the era of satellite culture.
Describing the dragon festival as part of Bengali culture, the minister said, "We have to preserve the cultures of the entire Bengal to preserve the cultural heritage of the country."
Many cultures are now under threat due to the violent grip of satellite culture, added Hasan.
"Earlier in our country, folk songs were sung on various occasions including yellow festival prior to the weddings, but now that is changing, which is a blow to the culture of Begal," said the minister.