CHITTAGONG: The traditional ‘Jabbarer Boli Khela O Baishakhi Mela’ revisits the port city amid much enthusiasm and festivity to remind people of the rich culture and heritage of Chittagong.
Organisers of the 109th version of the three-day wrestling competition and Bangla New Year fair have taken necessary measures to make successful the event scheduled to begin today (Tuesday).
While visiting the fair venue on Monday afternoon, the daily sun correspondent found that a large number of sellers from different parts of the country already set up their makeshift shops in and around the venue.
They will sit on some two square-kilometre areas stretching from Nandan Kanan to Kotwali Intersection and Anderkilla to Jail Road and KC Dey Road.
The vendors will display huge types of products including potteries, furniture, fruits, sweetmeats, handicraft, handloom products, textiles, garments, household materials, showpieces and toys, which are not commonly available in the city.
However, scorching heat was not allowing many of the vendors to keep their stalls open in the afternoon.
Didarul Alam, who came from the city’s Patharghata area with cane products, said he has been participating in the fair for the last eight years.
Md Nayon, who came from Rajshahi district to the fair with huge pottery items for the fifth times on Sunday, said they wait for the fair throughout the year and do not want to miss it.
People irrespective of ages gather at the fair venue since early morning to midnight to have the fervour of heritage.
The main component of the fair ‘Boli Khela’ (wrestling competition) will be held tomorrow (Wednesday), the 12th Baishakh and 2nd day of the event, with the participation of a number of wrestlers from different parts of the country.
Talking to the daily sun at the fair venue on Monday afternoon, ‘Jabbarer Boli Khela O Baishakhi Mela Udjapan Parishad’ President Jahar Lal Hazari said they took all preparations to make the fair successful.
He said around 60 wrestlers from different parts of the country already registered their names for the competition.
Jahar Lal, also local ward councillor of Chittagong City Corporation (CCC), hopes that the number of wrestlers will exceed 120 this time.
“A session for folk songs like Jari, Sari and Bhatiali will be held at the fair to display the rich culture and heritage of the country,” he said.
He informed that Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduazzaman Noor MP is working for inclusion of the ‘Boli Khela’ in the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage.
A letter was sent inviting the authorities concerned to visit the event, he said adding that they are yet to get any response in this regard.
Contacted, Chittagong Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner (AC-Kotwal Zone) Jahangir Alam told the daily sun that they have taken necessary security measures to avert any untoward incident in the fair.
He said law enforcers are setting up watch towers and installing CCTV cameras for vigilance.
Renowned local merchant Abdul Jabbar Sawdagar of the city’s Badorpati area introduced the wrestling in 1909 (Bangla 1316) with the aim to organise youths for anti-British movement.
It is said the history of the event dates back to the Muslim and Arakani rules when aristocratic families, particularly the landlords, would employ healthy and strong wrestlers to counter their rivals.
There were 22 families of wrestlers hailing from 20 villages on the alluvial plain between the river Karnaphuli and Shankha in south Chittagong.
Some two lakh people of Chittagong were expatriates in the then Burma long before the partition of this sub-continent. The expatriates would return home with their huge savings to organise wrestling competition in the month of Chaitra or Baishakh every year.