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     Volume 4 Issue 46 | May 13, 2005 |

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Culture Forgotten

Anwar Ali

The festival depicted the struggle to protect culture. The many speeches that were delivered, the poems and songs rendered at the celebration, spoke of the sufferings and deprivations faced by a large section of ignored and tortured people. 'What can one expect these tormented souls to do?' wondered many, who attended this Aborigine Poetry and Cultural Festival-2005 held at the Rajshahi District Council Auditorium last week.

Hundreds of people from tribes, namely, Santal, Orao, Mundi, Raioar and Pahari flocked to the auditorium with a hope within, for fulfilment of their dreams.

A number of renowned poets from Dhaka graced the festival and outlined unanimously that the Bangla culture would be left with no meaning if aborigines' traditions were not protected. Protection of a culture involves not only the preservation of the various elements in our culture, but also ensuring fundamental rights on land, property, education and use of mother-tongue of all citizens, they said.

Renowned novelist, Hasan Azizul Haque, inaugurated the festival, which was organised by the National Aborigine Council (NAC). The president of NAC, Anil Marandi, chaired the function.

Prominent poets from Dhaka such as Habibullah Sirajee, Samudra Gupta, Bulbul Moholanabish, Mohon Raihan, Fazlul Haque Ripon, Nasreen Rahman, Chaitee Sayed, Jhon Kisku and workers party polit-bureau member Fazle Hossain Badsha, Dhaka University teacher Mesbah Kamal, Rajshahi University teacher AHM Zehadul Karim and NAC general secretary Rabindra Nath Saren addressed the inaugural function.

The speakers demanded constitutional recognition of the aborigines and enactment of laws to protect their lands, rights, education, language and culture.

After the discussion, the various tribes delighted the audience with colourful presentations of their culture. However, they also reminded everyone of their deprivations and the demands of the indigenous people.

The writer is the Rajshahi correspondent of The Daily Star.

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