In time of a depressing Autumn

Dhaka,  Tue,  26 September 2017
Published : 20 Aug 2017, 21:42:17
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OPINION

In time of a depressing Autumn

Clearly, this Autumn is going to be more than depressing. A large number of the population will have to forego their respective annual festivals. Now the question is, if affluent people in the unaffected areas of the country can do something for the flood victims in addition to sympathising with them. It can be done, argues Neil Ray
Saturday morning made the first impression of what is known as the Autumn in its unalloyed brightness. After unremitting rains for days and weeks together, the pleasant change in weather was quite uplifting too. It was more so for people now struggling to keep them dry from the floodwaters engulfing their homes and hearths in a ferocious sweep across wide swathes of Bangladesh and its South Asian neighbours. 

Autumn in this part of the world is unlike that of the Western world. If the primary colours here are refreshing blue and white, in the West crimson is the dominant colour of the Fall or Autumn. Undulating thick and white kash flower prepares the ground setting while white patches of clouds set against clear blue sky makes up for the top half of a huge canvas. There is something innocent and at times subtly painful about the sight and sound. Another flower without which the Autumn is incomplete is sheuli. It gives the impression of smiling forever. Dew-laden, the flower is really enlivening. 

In contrast, colours run riot with woodlands in the West. Trees prepare for shedding leaves and so resplendent are those that before taking their leave, it seems, those are making their last statement. And here exactly, the underlying pang of separation brings the Autumn of East and West to a meeting point. 

In this part of South Asia, though, it is a festival time. Both the Muslims and the Hindus have before them two of their largest religious festivals -Eid-ul-Azha and Durga Puja. In the flood-hit areas, most people have either been marooned or sheltered in makeshift huts, tents, school buildings and anywhere accommodation is possible. They are struggling to survive the critical period. They cannot afford the luxury of enjoying the beauty of this season. All they are eagerly waiting for is recession of water from their localities. Their economic status seriously jeopardised, flood-stricken people will be in no position to celebrate the two religious festivals. It was reported that cattle-rearing farmers and traders who had at their disposal large numbers of cattle are now counting on bad days ahead. There will be no buyers because of the floods.     

Similarly, the annual festival of Durga Puja will suffer as a result of the inundation of localities along with the temples or the places of worship. Before the five-day ritual, there is an elaborate preparation. Now the floods have invaded at the time of such preparations. When physical survival is at stake, arrangement for the greatest festival of the Bangalee Hindus does not arise.

Clearly, this Autumn is going to be more than depressing. A large number of the population will have to forego their respective annual festivals. Now the question is, if affluent people in the unaffected areas of the country can do something for the flood victims in addition to sympathising with them. Surely, if there is a will to do so, the joyous occasion can be shared with the affected people. Cooked foods -the type prepared on the occasion of Eid -can be distributed among people staying in their temporary shelters. On the occasion both government and affluent people of society can carry out such a food distribution programme in a coordinated manner. 

In the same way, on the occasion of Bijoya Dashami, puffed rice, beaten rice and sweetmeat can be distributed among the Hindus staying at temporary shelters. Such programmes may not replicate the real celebration but at least the flood victims will feel that they are not abandoned but cared for. Such a feeling is important for cementing a bond among the people.     



 
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