Utshob (Kite Festival), Lohajang, Munshiganj, March 2008
Back to Childhood for a Day:
Ghuri Utshob (Kite Festival), Lohajang, Munshiganj
I first heard the thing from Shihab, it instantly came
to my mind that this is some event that
must not be missed.
Last time the Ghuri Utshob (Kite Festival) was at St. Martin’s
Island. Missed it and was really unhappy about it. This times
things would be different. But I had plans for the same day!
Would it be the same story once again? The registration had
to be completed within Tuesday (18th March). And I was still
undone when 18th passed by. Called up Shihab. He was delighted
and he made arrangements for three of us: me, my other half
and Riad, my little brother-in-law. It clicked in my mind
that other friends of mine might go too. Called up a few
others and got very positive replies. Now there was the problem;
can we take as many as we want? There may be some limitations
regarding logistics. I had to be sure. I decided to contact
the organizers on the morning of the 19th. Incitaa Tourism,
the organizers, assured me that I could still register several
people, provided that pay them by late afternoon. The event
belongs to Chobir Hat community. Incitaa does the organizing
for the whole show.
I went to Incitaa office with Shihab and Farhan, I discovered
that we were quite a few going
together. In fact,
we would be 18 people. Hasan Jaiedi Bhai of Incitaa wondered
at our large contingent and joked that we would require a
whole bus! Anyway, we learned about other activities of Incitaa
and got fascinated. I knew of the Shurjo Utshob (Sun Festival),
but didn’t know that its organizers were Incitaa. Incitaa
also organizes numerous trekking activities with the help
of North Alpine Trekking Club of Bangladesh. We came out
of the office assured and happy, and with a lot of hopes.
The starting time would be 10:00AM on 21st March (Friday)
from Chobir Hat near Charukola (Dhaka University Department
of Fine Arts).
10:00AM on 21st March everything was ready. There were
two buses. Headcounts started. We captured half
of one bus.
But there were problems with seating arrangements. We later
learned from Jaiedi Bhai that a lot of people came in too
late, who could not be rejected, but who also were outside
formal arrangements. This created a bit of congestion, which
didn’t go unnoticed. There were people on the roof.
Though it looked like those people were trying to get a better
view of the surrounding sceneries, that wasn’t in fact
the cause behind their roof-travel. We started by around
quarter past ten. Our destination was the great River Padma.
Actually the river wasn’t the actual destination, it
was an island in the river which would be the place of our
festival. The place is in Lohajang Thana of Munshiganj District.
We heard that it would be only around an hour’s traveling
time. We even heard that some people work in Dhaka City coming
from this place. Not a lot of distance actually. It was a
Friday, a holiday; so, we expected the roads to be free.
A buffer time for leaving the city congestion was not needed.
We were driving south, leaving the City of Dhaka, crossing
the 2nd Bridge across the Buriganga River. Before long our
road was tearing through the green carpet of paddy fields.
The weather was warm. Children were jumping in the cool water,
leaving us feeling virtually stranded! We could do nothing
other than watch and smile. I was envying the people on top
of the bus, because they were supposed to get the best view.
But before I could even start envying, our bus was stopped
by a traffic surgeon. A brutal debate ensured. Some voices
from inside the bus overwhelmed the lone traffic police.
At last the people on top of the bus had to give in. The
bus started again; and after a while, stopped again! We left
the traffic police way back. The roof was filled up once
again! There we go again. After some traveling we were crossing
the two bridges across the River Dhaleswari. We knew we were
near. We were on the road for more than one hour now. On
the way we took a turn towards the right and drove for the
bank of the Padma in Lohajang Thana.
The journey took around an hour
and 20 minutes. When we reached the bank of the Padma,
we could already see
some kites flying across the water. The island was separated
from the shore by a narrow tributary of the Padma. Some people
even called it a canal. I thought it was a little bit more
than a canal. Anyway, there was a small motor boat ferrying
our group across the water. We waited for our turn; some
took their time with some refreshments. This shore was some
sort of a trading point for wood. The wood reminded me of
my last tour to Lawachara National Park. How many trees were
felled to make this amount of wood? My heart sank by the
sight of them. Could do well to leave this place for a brighter
side of life on the other bank. Didn’t have to wait
too long before our turn came up. The journey by boat was
too short to write anything about it. before we could realize
we were on water, we were jumping out of the boat!
The island isn’t a small one. Couldn’t
see any of the other three shores of the isle. There was
a small wooden resort on the island, called Padma Resort.
As far as I could remember, we were told that we would be
20 minutes’ walking distance from the resort. But we
were not too unhappy finding that the festival was actually
just outside the resort. Incitaa didn’t have any tie-up
with Padma Resort, but we could take services from them if
we liked. And the moment we reached the other bank, we started
thinking about a hiring cottage for us. It was very warm
day and there was no other shelter in sight. So, we hired
a cottage for a bargain price of Taka 2,000. And when this
amount was to be shared by 18 people, it was more than enough
of a bargain. We took our time to freshen up. The kites were
already in the air. We were in for a show.
for the heavens......
It felt almost like we went to our childhood.
The kites brought back all the memories. Before long, the
sky was filled up with kites of many colours and shapes.
It was a sight to see. The lizard was way ahead of everyone.
It bought a place in the sky and never came back. The wind
was very good and was enough to support even the most stubborn
of kites. One by one kites began to fly and also began to
compete with each other for height and space. Medusa was
the brainchild of Jaiedi Bhai. It was one of the most graceful
of the lot. We took control of a black-and-white kite; not
the prettiest, but stout and aerodynamic. It took off without
any trouble and stayed up there. We also took control of
a sun-shaped kite. The design was good enough for a long
flight up there, but a small weight problem continuously
pulled it on the right. It needed some careful flying. It
came back several times and also took off several times.
Some kites were really unique.
The parrot-shaped kite was flying well. But the airplane-shaped
to be too heavy for its size. It dived several times and
ultimately broke. The creators didn’t give up; they
repaired it and took it to air soon. It was difficult to
describe so many types of kites. The angelfish was among
the recognizable few. Others were shaped like butterflies,
birds, rockets, etc.
Whatever their shapes and sizes,
and whatever the technicalities, there was something childish
whole affair. These little machines took us to our little
years for the day. We forgot to count time. The sun was already
on the western side of the sky. And we were yet to have our
lunch. The organizers brought lunch from the other bank and
it took some time. The lunch wasn’t the most satisfying
for me, but some others didn’t hate it much. At least
it filled the stomach for a while.
The "Real" Kite!!
During the lunching hours, quite a few kites
(the birds named kites) showed up to compete against the
bunch of crows. They swooped on any available food as if
like catching prey. The kites filled the place with their
high-pitched sound; almost like showing their presence against
the man-made objects bearing their name.
The afternoon session wasn’t too bright
unfortunately. The wind dropped. It became difficult to fly
kites that needed a bit of air. The beautiful mermaid was
up during lunchtime. She clearly showed what graceful flight
meant. But her competition began to wane. The morning session
saw more than two dozens kites filling up the sky; whereas
the afternoon session struggled to find even half of that.
The disappointment in the sky didn’t bring down our
enthusiasm for enjoyment though.
of hard work...........
on to the next generation..........
in the sun............
on the Padma...........
on the green carpet..........
We (me and my other half) took
the riverbank. This is a real rural setting. Paddy fields,
this is what I long for during the busy weekdays. Here’s
enough refreshment for a whole week. The bank had no end.
Quite a long island this one. We walked for quite a while.
The bank was sometimes covered by algae; sometimes it was
covered by cane-mats basking in the sun. The late afternoon
sun provided the pleasant light for a long walk. We could
see the kites flying from a distance.
The kites came down one by one.
The sun followed too. But the event was not finished without
a spectacular evening
show; the show called “Fanush”. This is no other
than flying balloons filled with fume.
The moon was up. It was a night
of full moon. They created fire, not to compete with moonlight,
fill up the “Fanush” (ballons). The balloons
came up and were put on top of the raging fire. The first
balloon took some time before they got filled. But it was
discovered that the balloon had some leakage, which prevented
it from taking off. It was replaced by a second Fanush. That
too, showed the same flaw. Thanks God there was a third one!
This one didn’t disappoint. It took off, along with
the fireplace at its bottom. There was a huge cheer! Claps
all around! We saw it flying way over, crossing the canal,
on towards the mainland.
over the Padma...........
We started off towards the riverbank after
seeing the success of the last Fanush. Others remained there
to play a bit more around the fireplace. But we thought a
quicker getaway to the other side was a better idea than
spending too much time here. We took our steps under the
brightly-lit night sky. We boarded the same boat and made
the same journey, but this time enjoying the reflection of
the moon on the water. The journey was no longer than the
one made in the morning though. We took our seats in the
The journey back didn’t start before it was 8:15PM.
The organizers took some time boarding with all their things.
The warm day’s effects continued during the night too.
The wind didn’t hit our faces before the bus sped up.
We put out the lights in the bus. The moon did the rest.
The surrounding land was lit up by the full moon. It was
not dark even though the lights were out. We were all tired,
but couldn’t miss the moonlight. The journey back was
a journey enjoyed. It was a perfect conclusion to a great
Copyright © Ahmed Sharif,