What started as an initiative to instill the spirit of Liberation War among youths around 30 years ago in Chattogram, has transcended the boundaries of the city and become a compulsory event throughout the country during the month of victory.
This prestigious traditional fair -- Muktijuddher Bijoy Mela -- is being held every year to celebrate the nation’s liberation from the Pakistani occupation forces after a nine-month bloodstained war for freedom.
This year, the organisers in port city will also celebrate the fair’s 31st anniversary. Initiated back in 1989, Bijoy Mela -- the first of its kind -- is being held at the Outer Stadium.
Besides numerous stalls exhibiting an array of local products, eateries and performances, a “Bijoy Mancha” has been set up at the venue to arrange programmes on the Liberation War.
Muktijuddher Bijoy Mela Udjapan Parishad organises this monthlong fair in Chattogram every year.
“We started it to spread the spirit of Liberation War among youths,” said Faruk-e-Azam Bir Pratik, one of the initiators and co-conveners of the first fair.
“It was the first of its kind. Following our initiative, the fair is being held countrywide,” he added.
Remembering the first Bijoy Mela, he said, “A bunch of youths born on December 16, 1971 inaugurated it in front of Chattogram Circuit House on December 11, 1989.”
“At the second edition, Shaheed Janani Jahanara Imam was given a reception on December 14, 1990. That day, she also inspired people to mobilise the movement against war criminals,” he said.
Badiul Alam, co-chairperson of the fair committee, said they have set up around 200 stalls and pavilions.
Visiting the fair recently, this correspondent found the venue abuzz with visitors. People of all ages from the city and upazilas were seen thronging the stalls, buying clothes, utensils, appliances, jewelleries and toys.
Yesterday being a holiday drew a huge number of people to the fair.
“I have been visiting the fair since 1996. I used to come here with my parents when I was in school. Then back in my university days, my friends and I came here. Now I bring along my husband and daughter,” said Nasrin Akter.
Nasrin said she had visited many fairs including the international trade fair but this one is special. “When I come to Bijoy Mela, I feel proud,” she added.
Her husband, Zillur Rahman, echoed the same. “We bring our daughter here so that she can also learn about the country’s glorious history.”
Amid the stalls, “Bhabir Sukher Sangsar” drew attention of many with their traditional kitchen appliances such as “korai” (fry pan), “boti” (a curved cutting instrument) of various shapes and sizes, “jal chouki (wooden stool), janti (nut-cracker), “pata” (stone slab for grinding spices), “haman dista” (metal mortar) and many more.
The items were selling at Tk 100-500, depending on size and quality, said stall attendees.
Rehana Akter, a Patharghata resident, was seen buying a haman dista. “I bought it for my mother-in-law. “But these,” she said while showing this correspondent a bunch of household goods, “are for myself.”
Md Faisal, a vendor of handicrafts and cottage goods, set up his stall in a corner of the fair ground. He said he made most of the products such as doormats and carpets by himself. Faisal said his daily sale is around Tk 4,000 on average.