Shakrain celebration in Old Dhaka

Shakrain celebration in Old Dhaka
People flying kites during Shakrain.

Shakrain is a traditional festival that is celebrated around the Old Dhaka of Bangladesh. The celebration day is the last day of the Poush (the 9th month of Bangla calendar) which is known as Poush Sankranti (or Makar Sankranti). This is one of the oldest festival celebrations from Bangladesh. During this day exubarrant people fly kites, do fireworks, blow flames, and many more. Along with people from New Dhaka (like us) lot of foreigners use to go to Old Dhaka during the Shakrain festival. I was able to observe the Shakrain festival twice.

Shakrain celebration in Old Dhaka
Kites are stuck in a palm tree

Shakrain is known as Makar Sankranti to Hindu People, Makar means the Capricorn (14th January), a zodiac sign. It has several names in different parts of this sub continent. For example in Maharashtra this is sometimes known as Til Sankranti, and they use to make Naru from the seed of Til (sesame). It's known as Pongol in South India, and known as Bihu in Assam. This is one of the biggest festivals in India, and they celebrate the day as a holiday. But in Bangladesh Hindus are not the majority, and thus it's only limited among the Hindu people. But in Old Dhaka people celebrate this day regardless their religion.

Shakrain celebration in Old Dhaka

To observe the Shakrain I've gone to the Laxmibazar area around at 4:00pm of the afternoon. Already lot of kites were flying in the sky that time. They were in different colors and sizes. Most of the roofs of those old buildings were occupied by the young (mostly) and few elders. It is hard to manage yourself at the roof of the building if you are not a local, and you would miss if you fail to manage a roof. Somehow, we have managed an old palace type of building with the help of a local boy named Hridoy (later I heard the building doesn't exist anymore).

Shakrain celebration in Old Dhaka
An opportunistic kite catcher.

It was amazing to be with the festive people in Old Dhaka during Shakrain. Lot of loud musics around, everyone were playing their own choice of music on loud speakers. Hindi, Bangla, English, old, new, lot of different genres. It was hard to concentrate any particular music sources if you try. Also the chaos from the people made the situation more amazing. If you want to talk even with your friend on your right he hardly could hear you for that tumultuous situation.

Shakrain celebration in Old Dhaka
Catching kites with Bamboo.

There were three type of groups gathered at the roof top. One group used to fly kites. They were prepared with 8-10 kites an average. Second group used to catch the kites. Using the Bamboo stick they were doing that very easily. Kites use to fall due to low wind under it, or gets loose after fighting with other kites. The third group was the spectators, they don't do anything, like us.

Shakrain celebration in Old Dhaka
Holding flare at a roof top.

When the sunset was about to happen, people used to play with fires. The lit the torch and blow the kerosene oil from their mouth to make the torch inflame. I have seen this kind of works in television, but never got any chance to see in live. One people from our roof did that subtly. This view was identical at all of the roof tops of other buildings.

After the sun down, it was party time with fireworks. Sky used to be bright even at night by the colorful sparkles produced from those. Sounds like gun fire produces from those too. If you see this from roof you would feel like it's a war situation. People use to spent thousands of Taka (local currency) behind those fireworks.

Shakrain celebration,
Old Dhaka,
Country: Bangladesh,
GPS Coordinate (23°42'8.65"N, 90°25'9.97"E).

This article has written by Lonely Traveler,
for the blog

Friday, 14 January 2011,
Saturday, 14 January 2012