Historically speaking, Bangladesh is an agricultural country which has always enjoyed celebrating a variety of festivals. Each festival pays homage to a different aspect from their daily lives – from the end of the harvest to their abundance of gods. In particular the Nabanna festival is a cultural festival which is practiced predominantly by rural society while the city dwellers in general have not adopted this as a standard practice. This has caused minor controversy between the two particular groups.
However an initiative has been started by the University of Dhaka, in association with the department of Fine Arts. During this time much excitement and color characterizes the traditional recitations, drum-beats, music, dance, songs, Shari and Jari which are presented along with Payesh, Pitha as well as many other delicacies that can be tasted throughout the day. This age-long tradition is slowly being welcomed back much to the delight of the surrounding rural peoples whose beliefs are so deeply rooted in this ritual. By this great undertaking the people of the city are now showing their respect and gratitude for those who work such hard, long hours often struggling with crop failure, pestilence and erosion in their endeavor to producing enough sustenance for the entire country. It is through their efforts that the people of the cities are able to feed their families. This is now being fully realized as they assume responsibility to their cultural backgrounds.
“Nabanna”, can be translated as ‘new food’ and this is a most suitable term as it is a time of cultivation practiced at the beginning of the autumn season. During this period the farmer fills the granaries with the newly harvested crops making them ready for the winter months. However, when you look at the Bangladesh a little more closely, you will begin to realize that an overwhelming number of people in rural areas live below the poverty line. This makes the occasion marked for the new harvest a bitter reality. However, this, fascinatingly, does not come through as one would think; instead the opposite is felt with the receiving of the Nabanna festival with great joy and believe in the new season. It is such a great lesson for us as we observe such sincerity and humbleness characterizing the Bengalese people.