Krishoker Eid Ananda:
Revival of Rural Bengal
During the mid 70s, I started my career as a development journalist in Bangladesh Television. Eid is the most illustrious festivity in our country, and I noticed the three-day Eid special programmes during that period of time on BTV, focusing on the urban audience and leaving the rural people behind the curtain. Since then, I was always confronted with the question, why are there no special programme for the rural people. I kept on thinking, “can't we really produce a TV program for the farmers, the rural people, and for those who have relentlessly given their efforts to ensure food security amidst many odds that we don't even know?”
October 1st, 1999- Channel i started its journey. And, on such a platform we thought of broadcasting special seven-day Eid programs. Everything went well for the audience. However deep inside my heart, I always had my dream to do something for the farmers, especially during Eid occasions when they are neglected by the TV media mostly. Since I started freshly “Hridoye Mati O Manush” in 2004 on Channel i after sixteen years of Mati O Manush (1982-1996) on BTV, I moved slowly but steadily towards my goal.
2007- The year of the execution of my vision. Finally, I unveiled my long-desired dream, “Krishoker Eid Ananda” (Farmers' Eid Delight), a unique Farmers' Game Show. There is nothing more energizing than the farmers' cultural heritage. There is nothing more memorable than to bring the village celebrations of age-old festivities of rural Bangladesh through “Krishoker Eid Ananda” (KEA) on television screen for the first time. KEA stood beside the farmers, gave them abundant amusement and encouraged them against many challenges and it still moves on, backed by the love and passion of both rural and urban audience.
Following the footsteps of Krishoker Eid Ananda, Channel i and “Hridoye Mati O Manush” also introduced “Krishoker Boishakhi Ananda” (Farmers' New Year's Celebrations), and also the century-old boat racing, in which thousands participate with momentous spontaneity and joy. This manifests our true dedication to the rural heritages of Bengal and the real spirit of life.
For nearly three decades, I tried to establish a synergy among the media and the men in the field. Everything focused to the impact on policy makers, stakeholders across all sections of society and most of all, on the mindset of the poor peasants. “Krishoker Eid Ananda” is the powerful-most initiative of that kind.
Our farmers have started their life from tribulations, sufferings and sorrows. Very few have come out from their struggling life…how could they ever think of playing games? Our farmers don't need two-storied building with a luxurious life. What they want is a bit of relaxation, something which would really comfort them and would give them hope to survive in the long run.
Like I said, Eid is the merriest event for Bangladeshi people, and the whole country enjoys these three to five days or even seven days of break. In the throng of urban entertainment programs, which carry luxury, glamour and all those money-spinning terms, I thought of engaging farmers with entertainment and you would easily find Bangladeshi TV audience awakened with new pair of eyes…now they wait for “Krishoker Eid Ananda”, twice each year.
At the beginning I chalked out creative games for the farmers e.g. seed sowing, raft race, climbing oiled banana trees, pillow fight of the elders, beautifying brides, cracking clay pitchers, water polo and chocolate race. I kept the game agriculturally alive as well through fashioning games that would also represent agricultural technologies and their demonstration, for example, implementing granule urea, ribbon retting, drum seeder etc. Farmers learned about a technology while having fun on the field. What better could I expect?
The first three years of “Krishoker Eid Ananda” went in simple fun and games. However, I added the needs for basic fundamental rights of a particular region in the event. With a narrative documentary, the games moved on focusing on the fundamental rights like education, health, infrastructural facility, and how poverty makes a community absolutely immobile, and also how hunger and social frustrations lead people to commit suicide. Krishoker Eid Ananda showed many ways how people can regain their belief. For instance, at the river eroded regions I gave them more water-based games or challenges so that they can beat the water not their opponent on the water. I raised their self-confidence even more when they had to walk over a bamboo on the river Jamuna. “Krishoker Eid Ananda” means to revive the cultural heritage and sow the seed of confidence among the rural hearts.
This year, Krishoker Eid Ananda travelled to Netrokona district, which has an area of approximately 2,810 sq. km, a land of culture, literature, music and farmers. More specifically, I went to Mohanganj upazila, 170 KMs away from Dhaka, which is also known as the capital of the haor areas of Netrokona. The first night, “Hridoye Mati O Manush” filmed the Jari songs of famous Hashem Bayati, where he narrated the chronicles of Netrokona through his mind blowing performance. The haor area is belted around by six districts of Bangladesh. The region also supplies 13% to 15% of rice of the total production (4 crore Mt.tons) to the nation. We went there to play games with farmers and to look inside the realities of farmers. Beside from producing rice, the region is quite capable of producing plenty of fish, but the people barely have any fundamental facilities of communication, education, health, pure drinking water and sanitation. Moreover, child marriage is a big crisis in the region. Farmers here are quite afraid to bear the farm-labour cost for paddy harvest, and thus they left their paddies on the field to rot, due to lack of poor communication and market access, without which the harvest would certainly go in vain.
William Shakespeare must have been a better hand to write a tragedy on the successes of the community against many odds, which always remained in darkness. The land was composed of shattering and untold hopes, deprivation, and a place depicting a grim picture of poverty. The everyday crisis in the region actually made the people wild, that's what I guessed.
On South-East part of Mohanganj, next morning I started off to the “Krishoker Eid Ananda” location, Khurshimul village on the bank of Dingapota haor. Let me tell you, it was fantastic…mother-nature simply adored the region. I felt I was standing beside a sea, without ships, but with boats and plenty of ducks all around. It was simply stunning! “Krishoker Eid Ananda” was all set to take off.
I was warmly welcomed by the local people. The show started off and completed eight games, in two locations, water and land: Pillow fight, Children sprint, Crossing Greasy Bamboo by Hands, Beautifying Wives, Catching Ducks on Water; Grandfather-Grandson Sprint, Reverse Run, Climbing Oiled Banana Tree on land. All the games were pretty competitive which really entertained the participants and the audience.
It was so hectic but amusing for me, for the entire team and I really hope we could deliver all the best for the people of Netrokona. The sun was on its way to the western horizon. At this point, I would really like to convey my readers that though after the filming of “Krishoker Eid Ananda” in Netrokona, and while writing this article, one of the golden sons of Netrokona, the legendary playwright, novelist, famed film-maker, story-teller and the king of Bengali literature, Humayun Ahmed passed away, now it seems to me that the real 'sun' of Netrokona have set and now is at his eternal rest. Mohanganj is where Humayun Ahmed spent his happy childhood times and I thank 'coincidence' for the first time and it's an honour and privilege for me to have filmed “Krishoker Eid Ananda” in Netrokona. Channel i and “Hridoye Mati O Manush” and of course the entire Bangladesh is indebted to this gifted man and we pay homage to the departed soul of a history called, HUMAYUN AHMED.
“Krishoker Eid Ananda” is not just a game show; it's a narrative of a unique community that binds them together from every aspect. It is our responsibility to give something very special to the 120 million rural communities as we all know they are the backbone of our economy. “Krishoker Eid Ananda” is one of those initiatives that stand right next to the marginal people of Bangladesh. The programme has brought alive the rural heritage, traditions and principally the rural sports on the first row of entertainment programmes among the many 'so-called' urban shows during Eid festivity. Krishoker Eid Ananda has charged farmers with the 'self-confidence' that they are not alien but a valuable part of the nation as well as of the entertainment scenario in Bangladesh.
Krishoker Eid Ananda will go on air on the third day of Eid-ul-Fitr at 3:05 PM on Channel I.
Cover Art by Ujjal Ghose
(R) thedailystar.net 2012