Glorious history of liberation war has enriched folk culture of Bangladesh

By Mahfuza Jasmine

DHAKA, Dec 13, 2020 (BSS) – Bangla Academy President Bangabandhu Professor Shamsuzzaman Khan said glorious history of liberation war has enhanced the folk culture of Bangladesh.

He said the socio-economic condition of the particular area affects the folk culture of that region. “Every section of our folk culture has a correlation to the liberation war. Folk literature, folk art or folk song … our folk culture is so rich that it has also acted as an influence in the liberation war,” he added.

Shamsuzzaman Khan, a pioneer of Bangla folklore study, said these in an interview with BSS ahead of the 50th Victory Day of Bangladesh.

He said during the liberation war folk songs, folk rhymes, Puthi, and orally composed songs by the people have started a glorious chapter of folk culture. Folk songs, rhymes, books and stories are written about different movements and struggles of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman have enriched the folklore.

Many elements of folk culture have been formed during wartime. These elements have influenced the freedom-loving people as well as the folk culture.

Former Bangla Academy director Shahida Khatun said, “The contribution of folk music in the liberation war of Bangladesh is foremost. In the words and tunes of the songs composed by our folk poets, the folk society has also been enlivened with the independence-loving people.”

She said folk music artists have composed innumerable songs of various genres like Jari, Sari, Bhawaiya, Bhatiali, Dhua, Bichargan, Kabigan, etc. Bangabandhu’s call in the liberation war, the conspiracy of Pakistani rulers, Bangabandhu’s imprisonment, the tyranny of Razakars and Al-Badars and genocide by Pakistani army were the topics of their composition.

The liberation war is reflected in the works of the poets, where the liberation war and political life of the great hero of liberation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has become a unique source of folk literature.

Folklore researcher and Assistant Director of Bangla Academy Saymon Zakaria reflected Bangabandhu in a book titled `Shadhak kobider rachonay Bangabandhur jibon o rajnetee’.

In the book, songs of Sadhak Poet Shah Abdul Karim depicted the position of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in context of the history of the Liberation War.

Palli gramer kobi ami pollir gaan gai/shadheen deshe shosonmukta samaj gorte chai/ (I am the village singer / I want to build a society free from exploitation in a sovereign country/), in this song, the emotion of the liberating common people have been expressed.

“In various literature, during and post liberation war, we see the indication of Bangabandhu’s historical speech of 7th March 1971, which formally initiated the liberation war. Folklore is no exception, this trend continued in the writings of the post-war generation of folk poets”, Zakaria added.

He also mentioned the Puthi book titled `Oitihashik Satoi March er Vashon’ by Sheikh Mizanur Rahman, who is one of the young representatives of Puthi culture in Gopalganj.

Zakaria said, “Here, the political life of Bangabandhu and the desirable struggle for the liberation of Bangladesh from the suppression of Pakistani rulers have been narrated in such a poetic weave. The poet has documented the speech of 7th March as a `lyrical verse’ written on Race course Maidan.”

Terming folk songs composed during the great crisis of 1971 as our national treasure, Shahida said, Gambhira and Alkap songs of Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj region are invaluable resources of folk culture. These songs narrated various events during liberation war and Bangabandhu. Soon after independence, in 1972, the glorious chapter of the Bengalis liberation war became the main theme of Gambhira songs.

New elements of folklore have been created in the nine months of 1971, like legends, proverbs, and folk rhymes. In the meantime, numbers of new proverbs also have been added besides conventional ones. For example “Nodi Mathe Jongole, amra marbo Kousholey”, (we will kill tactically, in the river, field and forest), “Ostader Mair sesh ratey, amra marbo hatey ar vatey” (The best prove itself in the long, we will kill with our hands and starvation), these proverbs are created locally.

Most of the creators of folk rhymes are rural women. The social picture of that time well reflected in the folk songs written during the war, such as: “Rajakar ar Albadar, jekhane pas shekhane dhor” (anywhere you find, seize Rajakar and Albadar), “Ora mare manush, amra mari poshu” (They execute people, we kill demons).

Folklore expert Shahida Khatun said various liberation war-centric photographs influenced the folk artisan and their creation in many form. Folk artisans, especially potters and carpenters, have depicted Bangabandhu, the great hero of the liberation war in different poses, in their clay, wood, stone, cement and terracotta made sculpture.

As a unique pattern of folk art, Nakshi Katha also illustrated with motifs based on the theme of liberation war.

Every December, Muktijuddher Bijoy Mela (Victory day Fair of the Liberation War) held in different parts of the country. This folk-fair is a remarkable event of the distinctive culture of Bangladesh.

This “Bijoy Mela” was started in Chattogram in 1989 with the aim of reviving the spirit of the liberation war among the mass people in the face of the violence of the anti-liberation forces Jamat- Shibir. This fair was later renamed as Muktijuddher Bijoy Mela.

Freedom fighter journalist and former managing director and chief editor of Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS) Azizul Islam Bhuiyan is the founder of Bijoy Mela.

Azizul Islam Bhuiyan said, “In the ’80s, the normal life of the people in greater Chattogram was ruined due to the hostility of Jamaat-Shibir. At that time, Bijoy Mela was organized to awaken the consciousness of the liberation war among the mass people and to build public opinion against Jamaat Shibir. ”

Shahida Khatun said the literature and other creations during the liberation war are the tone of the common people of Bangladesh. Whether written or oral, these elements carry the signature of the folk tradition of Bangladesh. Therefore, it can be said that the events that took place during the liberation war, the folk culture contains the image of those crucial days.

She said, “Folklore elements will undoubtedly be considered as an important document in writing a true and entire history of the Liberation War, especially in the writing of ‘regional history of the Liberation War.”

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