Volume 2 Issue 60 | June 20, 2009 |


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Journey through Bangladesh

From Bogra

The Mohasthangor Urash

Hasibur Rahman Bilu

"CAME here for the first time with my elder brother Jahangir, I am feeling great, it is impossible to express this feeling in words", says a smiling 25 year old Mohammad Raju. Raju, along with his 33 year old brother Jahangir, has come to Bogra's Mohasthangor from Bagerhat's Gambuj Masjid to take part in an unusual gathering.

Some of the locals refer to the urash that takes place each year, on the last Thursday of the month of Baishakh, on the courtyard of the shrine of Hazrat Shahsufi Mahmud Bolkhi (RA) as the “Cannabis Conference”. This is not say that the all participants are consumers of this illicit drug.

This tradition goes back many years, but we were not able to find out who first organised this gathering, nor the purpose behind its organisation each year. Like the previous years, there were apparently no organisers for this year's gathering, yet everything went along smoothly without any disturbance.

According to the local residents, along with visitors of other parts of Bangladesh, this year's gathering attracted its usual number of foreign visitors. Rana, a young local journalist, says that according to what he heard from his forefathers, this day marks the triumph of Hazrat Shahsufi Mahmud Bolkhi (RA) over the Hindu King Porshuram, and since then, Muslims have marked the day as an occasion for festivities and merriment. It is not as if the hundreds of thousands of devotees who visit the shrine on this day come bearing bongs in their hand, most come simply to visit the shrine, and some come out of genuine devotion and the desire to seek blessings from the almighty.

There are those who have come with the purpose of puffing the fumes of the illicit drug with complete abandon. One comes from Rangpur, an area adjacent to Carmichael College. He arrives three days before the event, and he informs us that, of the 77 years he has been living, he has been here 42 times.

From Rajbari zilla's Douladia comes Achia, along with her husband Abdul Hamed. They also arrive three days in advance at the shrine of Roborhan Uddin. She tells us that she has been here five times already, mainly because of her husband's enthusiasm for it. “It is not possible explain to somebody who has not been here himself the feeling one gets from taking part in this", says Achia.

For the local businessmen, this event represent a major occasion on their business calendar, says a local kotkoti vendor, Rafiqul Islam. The proprietor of "Nasir Kotkoti", Rafiq says, this year the local kotkoti makers shall be producing at least two hundred thousand kilos of kotkoti. He alone makes around twelve thousand kilos of this snack from ground rice grains and local brown sugar (gur). Of the many businesses that get noticed, one is the sale of hand-made fans. Ektaras, a musical instrument, are also sold on this occasion. Singers sit in their circles, with their newly bought instruments on their laps. The occasional punctuation of the thousands of visitors by these singers only emphasises the festive atmosphere of the occasion, and the festivities, after all, is what it is all about.

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