Heyday for Patnipara kula makers
The people of Bororia village in Sadar upazila are busy making kulas (winnowing fans) as the demand for those increases during paddy harvesting season.
A kula is made of bamboo strips and is used for separating chaff and dust from corn or grains. People of the Hindu community in Patnipara village have been earning their livelihood by making kulas for about one hundred years.
During the off-season, the villagers ply boats or catch fish in the adjacent Elongjani river, a tributary of the Jamuna river.
Mongol Chandra Taranidas, 80, of the village has been making kulas from his boyhood. Nowadays, he is suffering from different old age complications, but he still does the work with his expert hands.
Mongol said he is still engaged in the work as he does not want to be a burden to his sons. “Previously, I had plied boats and caught fish in the river during the rainy season, but I can't do it now due to my bad health. Moreover, the river remains dry for most of the year, while the fish have almost vanished,” he added.
Rakhal Chandra Taranidas, 45, of the village said about 100 people in the small village are engaged in making kulas.
“I can make four to five kulas a day. It takes around Tk 20 to make a kula, and it can be sold for around Tk 70,” he said.
“I buy bamboos for Tk 500 and make kulas worth Tk 2,000 with it. My wife and son also assist me in their leisure time,” Rakhal said.
Rakhal's wife Dolly Rani, their 12-year-old son Apu and 14-year-old nephew Shuvo, students of Class VII and VIII in a local school, were also seen making kulas with him under a tree in front of their house.
“A kula is made by cutting the bamboo in thin strips and then weaving and binding them after processing,” Dolly said.
“The kulas are sold at different local markets, especially at the weekly Karatia market in Sadar upazila,” she added.
“Though the people of the village have been making the bamboo items for decades, none of the community could become solvent, so the children of the local craftsmen have started going to schools for changing their ancestral profession,” said Rekha Rani, 70, of the village.
“Though winnowing fans could not winnow our poverty, we the people of Patnipara are still hanging on to our ancestral profession. We want nothing from anyone and have no complaint against anyone,” she added.