Potters in Madaripur district are busy preparing for the upcoming Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bangla year.
They are making various earthen items for the traditional fairs in towns and villages in the four upazilas of the district.
On a recent visit to different potters' villages under Sadar and Kalkini upazilas, this correspondent saw that members of the Pal community were putting finishing touches to the colourful clay items like toys, decoration pieces and animals.
Around 40 families of the Pal community live at Palpara village under Ghatmaji union of Sadar upazila but only 10 are involved with their ancestral profession.
The once-popular trade has dwindled over the years, but the artisans' passion and love for the craft have not, which continue to reflect in their art form.
“I have been making these earthen items since I was a boy. I learnt the craft the same way I learned my mother tongue -- from my elders,” said Bishwajit Pal, 65, of the village.
He said he makes the items for Pahela Baishakh and rest of the year he farms for living.
Rina Pal, 45, a potter at Thana Mor Palpara village of Kalkini upazila, said these items are only in demand during Baishakhi fairs.
Potters Minara Rani, 35, and Sunil Kumar Pal, 55, echoed her.
The potters said a major reason behind giving up their ancestral profession is that, with increasing population, available land is shrinking, and hence clay, the main raw material of this cottage industry, has become scarce and too expensive.
Wahidul Islam, deputy commissioner of Madaripur, said pottery is an age-old tradition and they will try their best to help the potters.
S Dilip Roy, Lalmonirhat
Dozens of craftsmen were busy making various masks and replicas of animals, birds and flowers with "sholapith" (referred to as shola and Indian cork) in Lalmonirhat yesterday, ahead of Pahela Baishakh.
They are happy as they have got more orders than last year's. The cork craftsmen along with their family members were working together round the clock to deliver orders on time.
Ramanus Chandra Barmon, 46, a craftsman in Sadhutari village of Sadar upazila, said he got 15 orders at Tk 70,000 but the figure was 12 last year.
The craftsman said he took help from his wife and daughter for quick delivery.
Basona Rani, a cork craftswoman in the same village, said, “I have been busy for the last two weeks making various masks, replicas and toys.”
Selling such cork accessories is their seasonal business.
Mohan Kumar Mohanta, 48, another craftsman in Khochabari village, said, “We spend less on production but we need to work hard.”
Shafiqul Islam, 21, a student of Lalmonirhat Government College, told The Daily Star that they will celebrate Pahela Baishakh with more enthusiasm this year. “We have ordered 300 pieces of items,” he said.
Taherul Islam, 20, another student of the college, said, “We will bring out a colourful procession and enjoy the day.”
“We will wear masks, dance, eat and exchange sweets,” said Suzata Dutta, 19, a student of Adarsha Degree College in Lalmonirhat town.
Tight security measures will be taken during Pahela Baishakh to avert any untoward incident, said SM Rashidul Haque, superintendent of police in Lalmonirhat.