Similarities and Celebrations of culture between Bengal and Bangladesh during the Covid-19 phases

 

Swapan Banerjee1*, Bhaswati Samaddar2

1Department of Nutrition, Seacom Skills University, Kendradangal - 731236, Birbhum, West Bengal, India.

2P.G in Dietetics and Food Service Management, IGNOU, Behala - 700060, West Bengal, India.

*Corresponding Author Email: sbanerjee90@gmail.com

 

ABSTRACT:

Bangladesh was an integral part of India but separated in 1947. Despite the separation, there is always having a similar culture, lifestyles, food habits, particularly among the people of West Bengal and Bangladesh. The similarity between Bangladesh and Bengal is that everyone likes here typical Bengali music, dance, drama, cinema, reading various novels in addition to diverse literature, arts, painting, and sculpturing. Nurturing the culture is almost every family's tradition, whether as an extra-curriculum activity for a student or self-interest for an adult member. It looks like Bengalis understand, feel, interact, argue, and at last express the cultures in their daily activities. Performing art and cultures are well-practiced since childhood till the last breath in both the places among the majority of the Bengali families. As a result, the great poets, artists, singers, and novelists who are not only making proud the Bengali community but all over the world through their brilliant works. Since March 2020, the world has been facing tremendous health crises and challenges in various sectors due to Covid-19. India and Bangladesh are also a badly affected country like other suffering countries. The risk of infection is more here due to the population (1.38 billion). Similarly, West Bengal, a state in India, was figured at 10.09 cr. Bangladesh showed 16.5 cr. population by the end of 2019. Despite the present pandemic caused by the coronavirus, Bengali and Bangladeshi are still following their tradition of cultures by maintaining the physical distancing. Both the states have been performing and celebrating their arts and cultures, including Rabindra Jayanti (Birthday of Rabindranath Tagore) at home during the lockdown and few virtual celebrations even in unlocking phases. Hence, cultural aspects are bridging the two places even in the COVID-19 crisis, not offline but online, just because of the deterministic attitude of the people towards inherited cultures.

 

KEYWORDS: Bengal culture, Bangladesh culture, cultural similarities, COVID phases culture, Bengali culture.

 

 


INTRODUCTION:

India is an example of a diverse culture that shows different languages, foods, dress, and people belonging to multiple communities1-5. The people of West Bengal, who are also called Bengalis, always traditional cultural-minded. In broader terms, they are defined as the cultural heritage of Bengali people duly succeeding from their predecessors. Bengali and their culture are inseparable from staying anywhere in the world, but their cultural heritage remains undetachable6,7. West Bengal has a rich legacy of great authors, such as Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, many other Bengali personalities. The notable personalities not only won prestigious awards but also received the Nobel prize for their significant and outstanding contribution. Needless to say that Bengalis also have a rich culture of music, theatre, films as well. Bengali people are proud of these personalities, including most incredible pride, Satyajit Ray, the Oscar-winning director, Rabindranath Tagore, winner of Nobel prize, and the national anthem writer8-10.

 

1. Major cultures in Bengal:

Bengali from both the states, Bangladesh and West Bengal, are carrying their traditions through various Sangeet, painting and drawing, recitation, drama, literature, novel, and Bengali thematic movies. Some of the cultures types are discussed here8-12:

 

1.1 Music12-18:

Music is always an integral part of both the community. It includes multiple indigenous Gharana such as Baul Sangeet, Bishnupure classical sangeet, Kirtan, Shyama Sangeet, Rabindrasangeet, Nazrul Geeti.

·       Bishnupure Gharana – This is a sole classical Gharana of Bengal, which was originated in Bishnupur.Tansen was the father of Bishnupur Gharana.

·       Baul Sangeet -This zone is immensely popular in the countryside. They are a group of people performing Baulsangeet using Khamak, Ektara, Dotara 14.

·       Rabindra sangeet- These are very popular and mostly cultured songs, and the type is also known as Tagore songs written and composed by Rabindranath Tagore. It has been an integral part of Bengal culture over a century.

·       Shyama sangeet-This genre includes devotional songs dedicated to the Hindu goddess Shyama or kali.

·       Nazrul Geeti- The typical songs were written and composed by Kazi Nazrul Islam, one of the reputed Bengali and national poet of Bangladesh and India. His songs are dedicated to revolutionary, spiritual, philosophical, and romantic themes.

 

1.2 Literature8,9,19,20:

It was developed over roughly 1, 300 years ahead of time. Rabindranath Tagore, a Nobel laureate, was a world-known figure represented Bengali literature in diversified ways. Kazi Nazrul Islam, a national poet of Bangladesh, was known for his rebel poet. Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Tarasankar Bandyopadhyay, Bibhuti Bhusan Bandopadhyay, Rajsekhar Basu (Parasuram), Syed Mujtaba Ali, Saradindu Bandopadhaya, Subodh Ghosh, Narendra Nath Mitra were the legends of Bengali Literatures. In the early 20th century, Samaresh Basu, Bimal Kar, Sunil Ganguly, Mahasweta Devi, Nabanita Debsen, and some more great authors have left the world kept their works for the Bengali and other literature lovers. Sanjib Chattopadhyay, Rizia Rahman, Samaresh Majumdar, Abul Bashar, and more writers are still with us by delivering their best works of literature.

 

1.3 Drama/Theatre21,22:

It refers to the theatre performed in Bengali or respective language. Bengalis are well known because of drama performed in theatre since the British era. Some famous theatre groups are like Bohurupee, Bratyajon, Nandikar, Chetana. Since the Micheal Madhusudan Dutta, Girish Ghosh, till Soumita Chattopadhyay, Sambhu Mitra is the most significant contributor in the Bengali drama. Satyajit Ray was one of the world-known directors belongs to West Bengal, who accelerated the modern theatre.

 

1.4 Rabindra Nritya Natya10,20:

One famous form in Bengal where the entire story is conveyed by dance. Sometime few dialogues or dramas are also there to accompany some pieces of Rabindra sangeet called Rabindra Nritya Natya. Few famous dance dramas are in this section are Shyama, Chitrangada, Chandalika. Kalmrigaya. Valmiki, Pratibha, Prakriti, Protishodh, Mayarkhela, TasherDesh.

 

2. COVID-19 Crisis and Culture:

The fact is that the year 2020 is not at all going good due to Covid-19 since March. People from all over the world are facing challenges due to the coronavirus issue, which is affecting not only our health but the economy, education, including the cultures. Since 24th March 2020, the people of India were staying home because of the restriction of the outside movements as per the order of the Government of India. It was evident that the lockdown situation also couldn't inhibit people from two countries. They were always ready to entertain with their talents and to nurture their culture overall.

 

2.1 Lockdown phases and quarantine21-25:

Rabindra Jayanti was dated 8th May under this lockdown situation, the most memorable celebration in both the places and the rest of the world. Whatever the reason was but lockdown could not stop Bengalis from celebrating Rabindra Jayanti as they presented their talent via social media. Children and their parents and other people either performed or attended to the various songs, dance cum drama, poetry, etc. and enjoyed posting the pictures of those glorious moments in the social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Few people even conducted an entire program through video conferences and shared with their friends and families. It was indeed awe-inspiring that in lockdown or unlocking phases, we all were learning new things and sharing the same with our families by sparing maximum time. These crucial phases were never being faced and experienced by the people of the globe. However, most of the populations of the two states know how to live their lives even in a devastating situation20-25.

 

2.2 Cultures and social media:

During the phases, we're going with social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. to gossip and showcase their talents. They were making videos on dancing, singing, poetry, cooking according to their capabilities. Senior persons were also engaging themselves in few activities like gardening, singing, or reading books. Parents were engaging their kids with daily fun activities, like drawing, crafts which make them learned by various creative things and creativities26-28.

 

2.3 Rabindra Jayanti in lockdown:

Coronavirus or lockdown couldn't be the barrier for the enthusiastic Bengali community from celebrating Rabindra Jayanti. They choose a digital platform to showcase their talent by performing songs, dance, poetry, etc. and keep posted in their respective social media. Few people even conducted the entire program through video conference or youtube or Facebook live. City people somehow busy with their work schedule that we were unable to take out proper time for their hobbies. So, perhaps the COVID-phases are the best time ever they are getting in their life to nurture their culture as much as possible16-18.

 

2.4 Culture and psychological issues:

Lockdown and post lockdown phases have given so many new lesions, including mental and physical health management. Due to various reasons, mainly the economy and daily earning of the poorest sections, the majority of the people usually have been suffering from depression, mood swings. The scenario is widespread in almost all the developing countries due to no job but sitting ideally at home. Further, a considerable amount of poor people are getting affected by their health and daily nutrition27,28. In city life, nurturing hobbies at home is, in a way helping your selves to come out from depression and staying positive towards this situation. More importantly, food, money, and encouragement are needed for those with no work, no money, and food. They need the money and some food to manage their families temporarily, keeping in mind at least an essential nutrition for their children29,30.

 

3. Unlock Phases –

Bangladesh is the second most affected country in South Asia, followed by India. Bangladesh government announced a lockdown from 23rd March to 30th May, and after that, the lockdown was lifted31. India moved into the unlocking phase from 1st June 2020. The Government allowed a few activities but continuing the safety campaigning 'stay at home and stay safe.' Like other states, the Government of West Bengal also restricted social activities where a maximum of 50 people can attend. Marriage functions or some festivals or other social get-together started with a limited attendance of participants32,33. Recently people of India celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi by following little cultural rituals at home or in clubs cum local business associations by restricting unwanted gathering. Unlocking phases are going on very carefully with some work outdoor and some indoor. Virtual academic classes are continuing for students, and some technical or non-technical webinars are also being conducted for higher education. Large numbers of people are engaged in teaching cum learning on various performing arts through webinars only34-36. In a lockdown, people were living confined at home where no healthy diet possible. Many patients had Diabetes, Hepatomegaly, CKD, Obesity, and other lifestyle disorders without proper treatment. In unlocking phases, people are gradually trying to come back into their regular lives, although unable to involve in full due to the risk of COVID-19 infection. Dietary patterns and exercises were practicing also started zone wise, ritual wise in the country as per people's food habits37,38. Despite so many crises and challenges, people are trying to get into regular cultural practices. This manipulation not only for India but also for Bangladesh slowly recovering their lifestyles, but both are waiting for COVID vaccination to lunch in the market like other waiting-countries.

 

The world bank has taken some initiative to help developing countries, including Indian and Bangladesh. By increasing disease surveillance, improve public health interventions, and focussing small scale industries on growing better by reducing interest or giving some financial assistance. It is projected up to $160 billion in financial support for the coming one and a half years. This is just to help some countries to support businesses, economic recovery, and overall to protect the most impoverished people39

 

Real GDP at Market Prices in Percent – India Vs. Bangladesh (based on $160 billion) 39

Country

Fiscal Year

2019

2020

  2021   

Bangladesh

July to June

8.2

2.0 to 3.0

1.2 to 2.9

India

April to March

6.1

4.8 to 5.0

1.5 to 2.8

 

The people of Bangladesh started outdoor activities in the unlocking phases like visiting Sundarban and boating, cycling, climbing, including local-level football and cricket practice.

 

The people of Bengal also started enjoying various rituals, including Ganesh Chaturthi and preparing for Durga Puja. However, there is always the similarity of cultures and activities between Bengal and Bangladesh.

 

CONCLUSION:

Bengal and Bangladesh both are co-related in terms of cultural heritage and distinct Bengali culture. Therefore Bengalis are enriched with their various arts and culture for decades. The culture includes different songs, painting, recitation, drama, literature, novels. Covid-19 virus infections have snatched so many valuable lives from all across the world, including Bengal and Bangladesh. Phase wise lockdown also caused so many disasters and human tragedies in both countries. Despite several challenges, people of the two states are still following their valued traditional culture and honest relationship. Therefore, culture is not only for celebration but for a proper long-run relation.

 

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Received on 23.09.2020         Modified on 14.10.2020

Accepted on 26.10.2020      ©AandV Publications All right reserved

Res.  J. Humanities and Social Sciences. 2020; 11(4):341-344.

DOI: 10.5958/2321-5828.2020.00053.4