Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Trendy Tangail Through A Lens

“The soul of a journey is liberty, perfect liberty to think, feel, do just as one pleases”~ William Hazlitt ,( 10 April 1778-18 September 1830), Essayist, Literary Critic, Painter and Philosopher

Text and pictures by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai in Tangail, Bangladesh

Magnificent Sunrise in the morning

Tangail is a district in central region of Bangladesh. The population of Tangail district is about 3.2 million and its surface area is 3,414.39 km. Tangail is an important handloom and cotton weaving centre, also serves as a trading centre for the rice, jute, and oil seeds which are grown in the surrounding agricultural area. Sugarcane, wheat and pulses are also important crops in Tangail.

Before partition of Bengal in the year 1942, 12- 14 families of weaving community from “Nowakhali” and Tangail district came along-with their looms and concentrated at Hatsimla, Dhatigtram, and Nasratpur area according to earlier research. They were specialised in weaving of Tangail designed sarees with finer counts of yarn mainly imported varieties. At that time the weavers used to get their yarn from Dhakkai Patti at Kolkata and also sell their finished products to that “patti” only. Each of the weaving manifested areas Kalna and Katwa sub division has its own history as to how weaving activities or industry developed there.

Nine women from Pakistan and Sri Lanka who were the participants of SANGAT XVth South Asian Feminist Capacity Building Course on Gender, Sustainable Livelihoods, Human Rights and Peace visited Tangail in October 2010. The distance from Dhaka to Tangail is 80 Kilometers and the journey takes three hours. We arrived at past midnight in Tangail. We were warmly and traditionally welcomed by the villagers with fresh flowers and songs at night. The traditional welcome is called “Barankore Neua”. The participants had a first- hand information about the activities in the community by the farmers and weavers with the help of UBINIG, which is a policy and action based organisation in Bangladesh. We visited seed houses maintained by the farmers in Fazilhati and handlooms in Nolua. We met men and women farmers and weavers and had a cordial interaction and exchanged experience.

Traditionally cooked village food with home grown green leaves, herbs and vegetables was served with Red Rice during our stay, and we experienced and enjoyed the village life. We started the days with “Goshto Gaan” (singing at dawn) and morning tea with “Muri” (Puffed Rice) and “Khoi” (Fried Paddy), and ended the days with “Dainya Gaan” (singing at dusk) along with the villagers. The sound of “Thak” (the sound of the looms) in the neighbourhood was my daily wake up call at 5am. Weavers are early birds as farmers. "Thak" sound was enchanting .It was an early morning energiser.And it keeps ringing in my ears throughout the day and night, whether I sing or swim or sleep or teach or travel.

We sang and danced together with the extremely hospitable and gorgeous villagers at foggy dawn and mist dusk at UBINIG Centre in Deldur in Tangail. We also enjoyed the “Ban” journey at dusk through alleys and paddy fields in Tangail.

Tangail is famous for trendy handwoven Sarees. Many hand woven Sarees, Shalwar Kameez and shirts captured our eyes and filled our luggage. The experience is awesome and unforgettable and will be treasured by us forever.

An early morning scene as I walk

Scenes as a beautiful day dawns

Wonderfully designed warm welcome with wild flowers

Candle is lit in the courtyard in the morning

Eco friendly entrance of UBINIG centre

“Goshto Gaan” (singing at dawn)

Villagers gather to welcome another day while the Sun rises.They sing songs while seated on the ground cross legged-left leg facing the East which means respecting the women

Candle light and fragrance of incense welcome the day with singing

A helping hand in the morning

"I want my daughter to be a weaver as well" says Fathima Rina (30)

Village cooking in the morning

"I learnt to weave from others" says Fathima Anuara (25)

Preparations for bulk cooking

Simple practices retain and enhance soil fertility and productivity

Women are the force behind the handloom industry of Bangladesh

Various Hindu idols are kept and worshipped

"Weaving is an art. I like to experiment it" says Fathima Shefali (25)

Farming households are willing to take the responsibility to conserve, replant and regenerate

"I compose famous designs brought by men weavers who go to the town" says Sajunu Begum (30)

Jute is kept for natural drying

An idol of a Goddess in a Hindu shrine

Kids wait for their mothers to finish work

Natural fabric dyeing process

"I started to weave when I was 18 year-old.Weaving needs a lot of patience" says Fathima Shreen (32)

Growing food by farmers is integral to keeping seeds for generations

More than 3,000 varieties of seeds and vegetable pulses are preserved here

"Please take our photo also" a polite request from these kids

Farmers do not use pesticide, herbicide,chemicals or poison

An idol of a Hindu Saint

"I help my wife who is a farmer" says Mohamed Hayad Ali (50)

Fresh Sweet Pumpkin shells are used to preserve seeds

Fathima Mubena (4) attended the meeting from the beginning till the end

Mother and child attending a farmer's meeting

Rickshaw pullers on the main road

An attentive listener at the meeting

Strengthening farmer's seed system is essential for innovation and knowledge generation

A view of a Hindu shrine

Semi-domesticated birds are integral part of the farming household

"My great grand parents, grand parents and parents have been farmers. I am happy to follow their footsteps" says Abdul Mannan Mia (65)

Myna on the carpet of Paddy

"I am new to the job and learning while working" says Mohamed Hahmuth (20)

Laundry shop and snack bar along the main street

During a meeting with the farmers

Thulasi Maadam in a Hindu vicinity

Jaganara Begum (44) who is in charge for one of the community seed wealth centres

Freshly plucked Grape Fruit for the guests

The villagers believe blessed metal pendants safeguard the kid from ill eveils

"I have been selling handloom Sarees for 35 years" says Gopal

Captured while walking on the busy street

"I will continue to be a handloom weaver" says Mohamed Alim (30)

Poultry farming is being developed here

Spot to quench thirst

This market is always busy

Bustling fish market

Hot and spicy savoury shop in the market

"I like to make trendy designs" says Mannan Mia (28)

A common village scene

School kids on their way to school

"I want to teach weaving to others" says Sithiq Mia (50)

Sugarcane carrier on his way to the market in the morning

Woman takes a dip in the stream

Vermilion figure to safeguard business

A view of an Eco friendly house

The production of local variety of crops provides fodder for livestock

Meeting of weavers

Freshly caught fish for sale

"I have been a handloom weaver since I was 16 year-old. I love to make beautiful sarees" says Haniffa Begum (40)

Commuters travel on the roof of a bus

Children play with mud at dusk

Mohamed Usuf carries firewood for sale

Community seed wealth centre

Municipality was established in 1887

Heap of Rice straw as fodder for livestock

Traditional fishing in the village

On a livestock site

Fathima Rabia fries "Mori"

Crispy and crunchy "Mori"

"I enjoy making traditional food" says Fathima Suraya

Fathima Suraya and Fathima Shreen grind grains to make traditional food

"Khoi" is being made

Traditional welcome at dark

Beautifully arranged Paddy,Flowers,Grass,Ginger and Lamp are used to welcome the guests

"Barankore Neua"-the traditional welcome is extended by the villagers of Tangail

Wholehearted warm welcome by the villager

"I'm writing a love letter to you.You're mine and I'm longing for your love and warmth" sings Kesali. His song led to fill the eyes of many at dark

An array of oil lamps for the grand welcome

"Do not ask me to leave; I cannot let you go; You are my love; You are my life; Let me live with you" Kesali continues to sing beautifully and emotionally

Devotion brings prosperity

Community singing brings togetherness

This candle is kept lit throughout the day and night

An engrossed listener of Lalon songs

Fakir Lalon Shah composed numerous songs and poems which describe his philosophy

Fakir Lalon Shah's poetry is turned into beautiful songs

"Dainya Gaan” (singing at dusk) is held under one candle light

Kesali and Nolukumar De dance at night

Villagers participate in the event at night

Domesticated Ducks going for a deep dip

Fresh Grapefruit in a home garden

Mohamed Saleem in his tea boutique

Hatching time at noon

Cow dung sticks are used as manure and firewood

Queen of the Night or Night Jasmine (It is called Pavala Malligai in Tamil) in a Hindu residential courtyard.The buds open in the night and the blossomed flowers fall early in the morning. These flowers have a pleasing perfume

“Khoi” (Fried Paddy)

Ash Pumpkin hangs at head level in a home garden

Checking the wellbeing on mobile in the morning

View of a cow shed

“Muri” (Puffed Rice)

Shying away along the way

Mobile vendor balances heavy weight of with kitchen utensils

Paddy field in Tangail

Common scene in a village

Farmers say that Jute can be harvested much more quickly than trees

Dyed materials are kept for drying

"Sekku"- traditional wooden oil extractor

Farming activity at dusk

Kids at play

Scene of a a simple village life

Gym in Tangail

Sunset in Tangail.Clicked this image while travelling on "Ban". It is a wide wood fixed with two wheels and a man cycles through rough alleys,roads and streets


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