Memos from Asia

Shakrain: A Kite-flying Festival in Bangladesh

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Shakrain: A Kite-flying Festival in Bangladesh

Poush Shongkranti or Commonly known as Shakrain to the locals of Puran Dhaka is the country’s one of the most colorful festivals. It is also one of the oldest festivals in Bangladesh that carries the symbol of friendship and unity. Shakrain is a festival of light, kite, and fire.

This festival takes place on the last day of the month, Poush, according to Bengali Calander, and that is why this festival is also called Poush Shongkranti or পৌষ সংক্রান্তি in Bengali (refers to the end of the month Poush).

It is common for the Hindus from all over Bangladesh to observe the Poush Shongkranti in winter by making Pitas and other mouth-watering dishes.

People from Puran Dhaka, an old part of the capital, on the other hand, celebrate the occasion with light, kite, and fire. They are also the ones who refer to this festival as Shakrain. People from all religions participate in Shakrain.

The History behind the Celebration

The history of this festival can be traced back to the time of the Mughal Empire.

Many rituals and festivals were introduced to celebrate and honor the fact that the Solar system highly influences the crop cultivation of the country.

Back then people used to fly kites around this time of year to get benefits from the activities associated with flying kites under the mild winter sun. However, the concept has taken turns over the centuries. The mere practice of flying kites has turned into kite-flying competitions.

Day of the Festival

You’ll feel the excitement in the air even before a week from the day of the festival. The preparation goes on for weeks. Rooftops from all parts of Puran Dhaka get decorated in colorful laser lights, papers, and balloons. Young people are the ones who usually do all the works and take the lead in this festival.

Shakrain festival is one of the ancient and traditional annual celebrations in Bangladesh, specifically in the Dhaka region. This culture is carried by the people of Old Dhaka (Puran Dhaka). It occurs at the end of the Poush month according to the Bengali calendar (January 14 or 15 in Gregorian Calendar).

The celebration doesn’t start until the afternoon of the day of the festival. People from all rooftops participate in the kite flying competition. Everyone tries their best to cut their opponent’s strings attached to the kites. After the competition is over, the evening starts with DJs performing in the rooftops.

Beams of lights are thrown into the sky with flying air balloons. People show off their skill of manipulating fire by breathing out flames like dragons from their mouths. The night continues with them dancing, eating, and partying hard until the morning comes.

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