Navanna Festival in Bangladesh

As in many other countries, Bangladesh has a history of folk festivals that originated from rites and celebrations that were held to keep the gods happy. Human sacrifices have not taken place in centuries, but some festivals have survived the ages and are still celebrated, such as agricultural festivals for fertility of livestock and for a good crop. These festivals appeal to gods for rain, sun and fruitful crops. One of the ancient festivals that used to take place in Bangladesh was Navanna. It is still celebrated today, but some of the rituals have changed.

Many festivals were created to ensure good crops and healthy livestock for the coming year, but the Navanna festival, also sometimes called the Nabanna festival, was a rite that was created for after the harvesting of the crops. It used to be a massive event that began before sunrise and would involve the entire community, even the children, who recited rhymes. It is therefore a new crop celebration, as the name describes, with Nava meaning new and Anna being a word referring to grain. It is a time of joy as the smell of newly harvested crops rise into the air, and rice paste is used to decorate gardens and homes. Offerings used to be made to the animals, to the deities or gods and to fire, and the community would open their homes to their neighbors allowing them to entry and serving them with rice cakes that were made from the new crop. Preparing dishes from the new crop is a symbol of respect towards the goddess of crops, Laksmi. Crows are also lured to homes with food, as their flight path is significant to the festival. The festival was always accompanied by dance, singing and music.

There are similar celebrations that also take place in the tribal regions of Bangladesh after the harvesting of the crops. Where Navanna is celebrated in the autumn month, Agrahayan, the Soharay Festival takes place during the winter months, and is a festival of the Santhals. The Mailukma Festival is unique to the Usui, Wangalla is a Garo tribe festival and the Mru have the Charmoinat festival – all of which are harvesting festivals.