The neighbourhoods of old Dhaka took on a festive look yesterday evening, as people celebrated Poush Sangkranti, also known as Shakrain. The last of the Bengali month Poush was celebrated with daylong kite flying, partying and food.
The winter twilight sky was adorned with spectacular laser light shows, fireworks and lanterns.
Shakrain is a traditional festival for the people of old Dhaka. The streets of Sutrapur, Kaltabazar, Shakharibazar, Lalbag, Faridabad, Tatibazar, Laxmibazar, Narinda and Gendaria remained abuzz throughout the day. Enthusiastic children started flying kites from the morning.
People gathered on their rooftops with kites in a myriad of colours, shapes and designs. Some brought loudspeakers to play music, and made sure to use those speakers to challenge people on neighbouring rooftops to a kite-fight.
Crowds were gathered in front of shops selling kites. Plastic strings seemed to be more popular among kite flyers.
"Earlier, we used powdered glass to sharpen strings…. But the process is labourious and time consuming. That's why people prefer plastic strings over cotton," said Hafizur Rahman, a motor parts businessman at Dholaikhal.
Ahasanullah, a private university student, said they have been celebrating Shakrain since their childhood.
Their relatives from different parts of the city visit their house on this day to celebrate the festival along with them. "An open invitation is given to all of our relatives and friends. My mother prepares sweets for guests on the day," he said.
Due to the pandemic, they limited the number of guests this year.
According to the solar calendar, on the last day of the Bengali month – 'Poush', the sun moves towards its southward (Dakshinayana) journey at the Tropic of Capricorn and starts moving towards the Tropic of Cancer.
The day is known as 'Poush Sangkranti', also 'Makar Sangkranti' all over the world. The day is celebrated by the Hindu community in India, Nepal and Bangladesh in many cultural forms, with a variety of names like Maghe sangkranti (Nepal), Saakrat (Delhi and Haryana), Uttarayan (Gujarat), Maghi (Punjab) and many more.
Different kinds of rice cakes, desserts and confections are made for the occasion.
"We have taken Tk 1,000 from every flat owner to arrange the programme including kite flying, singing and dancing, fireworks and dinner," said Mohammad Ripon, caretaker of a house in Shorafotganj.
Mohammad Sohel, a resident of Gendaria said all of their family members took part in the festival and it is a longstanding family tradition.
He said they will fly kites in the morning. In the evening they will hold cultural programmes and fireworks.
"It is a tradition in old Dhaka and we love to stay involved in the festival," said Sohel.
Meanwhile, with the slogan -- "Let's Fly Kites and Foster Tradition," the festival was celebrated in all 75 wards of DSCC.
DSCC Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh inaugurated the Shakrain festival from the rooftop of ward-43 councillor Arif Hossain Chhoton's Patla Khan Lane residence.
"This festival brings some relief to people in the middle of a pandemic. We will surely overcome the coronavirus and move forward in the future," said Mayor Taposh.
DSCC provided all 100 councillors under its jurisdiction with 100 kites each. The councillors distributed the kites to people in their area.