The BUET Rag Wall
Right beside the central cafeteria on the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) campus, a huge wall shines ever so vibrant. Students, alumni and outsiders gather to take pictures with it. But if you look closely past the colours on a brick wall, it's more than just another mural. Each brick on the wall tells a story of this campus.
On the left, you see a darker picture of BUET in its past. Puppets are being forced to bow down to an authoritative figure while another one is being forced down into a pit of fire. This grimy part of the mural portrays the older BUET, one where rag culture and student politics leeched off the campus like a parasite. Just a tad bit to the right, one of the puppets is being pulled out of this perdition and into a much more vibrant and joyful world. Students enjoying a concert together, chatting on the half wall with their friends, celebrating the World Cup together on campus – the mural represents the long-lost freedom of the students of BUET and celebrates their victory in achieving it.
Rag walls have been a part of BUET's tradition for a while now. The final-year undergraduate students undertake the responsibility of painting the wall beside the central cafeteria and leaving their mark on the campus. However, the tradition didn't originate overnight. Back in the '90s, final year batches would paint slogans or caricatures on the walls related to their batch which might have acted as a precursor to the tradition.
However, the "Canvas '06" batch was the first one to paint their logo on the yard in front of the central cafeteria, as far back as I could find. "Lubhdok '07" followed their predecessors and painted the wall beside the central cafeteria with their logo, which is now known as the "Rag Wall" to the students of BUET. With time, the designs on the rag wall became more detailed and now the wall paintings of BUET have reached its zenith.
However, this year's rag wall painted by "Onushurjo '17" stands out from its predecessors not only owing to the design or the quality of art, but also the story it intends to tell. The design team consisted of students from Batch '17 of BUET, the graduating batch this year. It was led by Benzadid M Gani and Rafid Nahian of the Department of Architecture and brought to fruition by many participants from all departments who spent sleepless nights finishing the painting in time.
"The subject matter of this year's rag wall dealt with something that is sentimental not only to this year's graduating batch of BUET but also to the junior and alumni batches. It tells the story of how enforced authority, political suppression, and toxic rag culture were finally uprooted from the campus grounds to traverse into a new era of BUET where an amiable environment and healthy interaction between senior and junior batches exist," said Benzadid M Gani and Rafid Nahian, "All this was possible owing to the sacrifice of Abrar Fahad, who was of Batch '17 himself."
"Over the years, the previous batches dealt with the rag wall designs with a more cheerful approach and would add their respective exuberant highlights," Benzadid and Rafid discussed the planning behind the wall painting and the challenges they faced, "Our design isn't so different in that aspect, except for adding an entirely new atmosphere to the painting that signified the dark ages of BUET. Blending the two was a challenge since we were concerned about whether the two subject matters would be communicated properly. We were able to counter this issue by imposing vibrant bands which were carefully placed to separate the canvases to tell different stories. The design process took more than a month whereas the final painting took about a week to complete before it was unveiled to the world."
Depicting BUET's gloomy phase and the transition to a cheerful campus was an ambitious goal to attain, according to Benzadid. The wall painting also had some concurrent references such as the FIFA World Cup fever and the newly constructed BUET gate. Despite the initial concerns, the design and painting team received rave reviews from the current students and alumni, and from outside the campus as well.
The rag wall is just one of the many walls in BUET. There's the Abrar Fahad wall commemorating his sacrifice. The Hogwarts House wall beside the cafeteria is also widely popular among the students. The premises of the Department of Architecture and the rest of the campus is filled up with walls, each one with a story of its own, as they spread colours of joy in the land of the living that is BUET.
Ifti is a contributing writer for SHOUT and an undergraduate student at BUET. You can reach him at [email protected]