Bengali folk culture gets to the fore at Nandonik

Swastika Ganguly with fellow Bengalis at ‘Nandonik’ 2022 (Photo Supplied)

Venkat Raman
Posted from Suva, Fiji, July 12, 2022

The richness of Bengali culture and the cohesive social fabric of the people of the state were among the highlights of an annual cultural event held in Auckland recently.

Called, ‘Nandonik,’ the programme, organised by Nandan New Zealand, was held at the Ellerslie War Memorial Hall on July 2, 2022.

Nandan New Zealand Spokesperson Swastika Ganguly said that the participants in this year’s programme came from three different Bengali communities representing varied forms of performing arts that constitute cultural heritage of Bengal.

Abode of folk culture

“Bengal has traditionally been the abode of folk culture in India. Like other parts of the world, with varied forms of music, dance, drama, painting, and folk culture represents the rustic inheritance of West Bengal. People of the Bengal region, which today accounts for West Bengal in India and Bangladesh), share cultural similarities, reflected in their arts, literature, and other types of creativity. The folk dances that were presented at ‘Nandonik,’ was a representation of this cultural unity,” she said.

Swastika said that the term ‘folk’ means ‘lok’ or people.

Bengali women at ‘Nandonik’ 2022 (Photo Supplied)

“Folk culture was developed, maintained, and nurtured by common people of rural Bengal. This culture was expressed as a manifestation of love, joy, sorrow, solitude, plurality, and public sentiments. Folk songs and dances also reflected the evolving educational, religious, and political values. They occupied a position of pre-eminence in the lives of our people,” she said.

According to her, the Bengali heritage in general and the folk culture in particular were promoted through entertainment (music and dance), ceremonies, festivals and rituals and other customs (storytelling and education).

Cultural decline

“Unfortunately, over time, migration of people from rural to urban areas, urbanisation of villages, globalisation and westernisation have forced the Bengal folk culture to confront tremendous challenges,” she said.

Swastika said that one of the objectives of Nandan New Zealand is to revive the folk arts and culture of Bengal and encourage the younger generation to practice them.

“The theme of our event this year was ‘Banglar Loksanskriti Utshob’ (Bengali Folk Culture Festival), the first for our organization and perhaps for the country. All our activities reflected this ‘renaissance,’ including the event poster. It carried ‘Pattachitra,’ portraying the life of ‘Behula,’ a promoter of the rural folklore tales of ‘Banik,’ or traders and ‘Chandsodagor,’ who saves her husband’s life. This Festival is still popular among the folklore of Rajshahi in Bangladesh. The Annual Cultural festival of Nandan New Zealand is a representation of the rich cultural heritage of Bengal,” Swastika said.

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