Dhaka,  Wednesday
29 May 2024

Traditional Pala Natya festival of Gaibandha is disappearing

Taslimul Hasan Siam

Published: 15:04, 12 March 2024

Update: 19:39, 17 March 2024

Traditional Pala Natya festival of Gaibandha is disappearing

Photo : Courtesy

At the beginning of the 19th century, there was a revolution in cultural practices in Gaibandha. At that time, several cultural organizations were built with the funding of the people with a cultural mindset and wealthy individuals of Gaibandha. These cultural centers used to organize yatrapalas in various areas including haat bazaar, fields, neighborhoods or mohallas in different villages of the district. Young and old people used to run in groups to see this social procession on Jotsna night. But this Yatrapala is one of the symbols of Bengal's culture on the way to extinction in the course of time.

It is known that this pala Natya  was one of the means of entertainment until the nineties. And Jatrapala's tales and stories were mostly based on true events that happened in the society. This culture has played a leading role in eliminating the social degradation of human society and the state. But with the evolution of time, this Yatrapala, one of the symbols of the cultural arena, is almost extinct today.

On the one hand, Jatrapala is about to disappear, on the other hand, Jatrapala artists have become unemployed. As a result, they are moving away from the world of Yatrapala acting due to the urge of livelihood.

Although the responsible organizations of the government are indifferent to organizing yatrapala or pala natyas, sometimes at the private level, theater organizations that survive by nurturing traditions in cities and villages organize palanatyas. Recently, an organization named Sarathi Natya Theater organized a three-day Pala Natya Utsav on the occasion of their thirty year anniversary at a place called Dariya Pur in Gaibandha Sadar Upazila.

The three-day palanatya festival of this troupe based on Gaibandha shows a large audience. The organizing authority said that three palanataks were performed in this three-day theater festival. On the first day, Sarathi Theatre's play 'Kalindir Geet' based on Salim Al Deen's 'Jaivati Kanyar Maan' was performed. It was written and directed by Saeeq Siddiqui. On the second day, Natyanandan Dhaka's play 'Bish Pawaner Geet' written and directed by Asma Akhter Leeza and 'Rupban Kainyar Pala' by Panchbibi Theater Joypurhat written and directed by Sayik Siddiqui based on Rupban Gantha was staged.

Matin Sarkar, a 58-year-old resident of Rupar Bazar in Sadar Upazila who came to enjoy pala drama, said that at one time the only means of entertainment was jatrapala. We used to enjoy these programs with great interest. I came to see this theater festival to awaken the memories of youth.

Zulfikar Chanchal, the chief editor of the organizing organization Sarthi, said - Bangladesh's current theater style is 'Pala'. Once upon a time hundreds of pala, zari, yatra were staged in village. Usually the story that can be performed in the village is called as 'Pala'. A-class drama is called 'turn' because there is a predominance or dependence of the story. Pala is presented through bandana, narration, dance, song and acting. At present these programs are not practiced because the work of the artists engaged in this profession is not evaluated at present. If such a theater festival is organized under the patronage of the government, besides preserving the history and tradition of Gaibandha, the people involved in this sector will get a new life.