Bangladesh

Sharodia Durga Puja

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Durga puja is an important festival in the Shaktism tradition of Hinduism. As per Hindu scriptures, the festival marks the victory of goddess Durga in her battle against the shape-shifting asura, Mahishasura.

It is an annual Hindu event in South Asia that celebrates the adoration of the Hindu goddess Durga. In Bangladesh, it is celebrated broadly. It submits to all the six days of experiential as Mahalaya, Maha Ashtami, Maha Saptami, Shashthi, Maha Navami and Vijayadashami.

History says that the Durga puja has been famous since medieval times. It has urbanized and customized to the world as time approved. A substantial text exists around Durga in the Bengali language and its untimely shapes. The goddess Durga was not completely included into the Hindu pantheon mainly in Bengal. Early forms of Durga festivals were mostly private adoration in personal houses with the use of musical mechanisms such as the mandira, mridanga and smakhya.

Mantras are an essential part of Durga puja. These are accompanied by the musical beatings of the dhak and flowers. These make the environment of Durga puja. Singing of mantras in Sanskrit is a necessary part of the Durga Puja celebration. Durga Slokas commends Durga as a sign of all celestial forces. Along with the sloka, Durga is ubiquitous as the picture of power, aptitude, calm, wealth, ethics etc.

The whole procedure of the formation of the sculptures from the set of clay to the decoration is a holy process, overused by services and other rituals. The people of the Hindu religion are very pious to celebrate this day with respect.

Durga Puja is a public holiday in Bangladesh. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

Bangladesh is a land of holy places and large religious festivals. The festival is a special occasion for Bengali Hindu families to come together from all over the country and celebrate with their relatives and communities.

The five days festival is celebrated with gaiety and grandeur in Bangladesh. Devotees of Goddess Durga offer prayers and seek blessings of the goddess. During the Puja, goddess Lakshmi, Saraswati as well as lord Ganesha and Kartikeya are also worshipped by devotees along with goddess Durga.

Durga calmly understands and counters the evil in order to achieve her solemn goals. Durga, in her various forms, appears as an independent deity in the Epics period of ancient India, that is the centuries around the start of the Common Era. From the medieval period up through present day, the Durga Puja has celebrated the goddess with performing arts and as a social event, while maintaining religious worship.

The festival begins on the first day with Mahalaya, marking Durga’s advent in her battle against evil. Swami Chinmayananda said, “Man, the imperfect, the bound, the sorrowful, has a thousand enemies within. He is riddled with negative thoughts fears, and yearnings. These are selfishness, jealousy, meanness, prejudice and hatred just to mention but a few. The Sadhak must get rid of these lawless villains within. With Mother Durga’s kripa, these destructive masters are to be annihilated. Invoke the Mother Terrible to help us annihilate within ourselves all negative forces; all weaknesses, – all littleness.”

The festival is an old tradition of Hinduism, though it is unclear how and in which century the festival began. Surviving manuscripts from the 14th century provide guidelines for Durga puja, while historical records suggest royalty and wealthy families were sponsoring major Durga Puja public festivities since at least the 16th century. The prominence of Durga Puja increased during the British Raj in its provinces of Bengal and Assam. In the contemporary era, the importance of Durga Puja is as much as a social festival as a religious one wherever it is observed.

This festival is the biggest festival of the Bengali Hindus and is celebrated with great fanfare in Bangladesh.

On each day of this festival, devotees offer flower worship (pushpanjali) and the priest conducts an aroti. At the end of these five days, the idols are immersed in water. As the devotees bid farewell to the Mother Goddess they softly say ‘Aaschebochoraabarhobe’ (We will celebrate your arrival again next year). Like Swami Sivananda, Hindus believe, “Durga (Devi) is synonymous with Shakti or the Divine Power that manifests, sustains and transforms the universe as the one unifying Force of Existence. ‘Shakti is the very possibility of the Absolute’s appearing as many, of God’s causing this universe.

God creates this world through Srishti-Shakti (creative power), preserves through Sthiti-Shakti (preservative power), and destroys through Samhara-Shakti (destructive power). Shakti and Shakta are one; the power and the one who possesses the power cannot be separated; God and Shakti are like fire and heat of fire.”

Even when skies turn to gray, we wishthat the Goddess will bless Hindus way; to give them strength to overcome it all; and achieve all their desires and goals.Let the divine blessings of the Goddess overflow in their life. Durga Puja is an auspicious Hindu festival celebrated across Bangladesh, India and bordering countries. People celebrate this day with great enthusiasm and zeal.

This wonderful spiritual festival, held annually in Bangladesh and elsewhere among the Hindu community in the world. The tenth day, also known as Dashami marks the Visarjan (immersion in water) of the idol with grand celebrations and processions.

Bangladesh Puja Udjapan Parishad and MahanagarSarbajanin Puja Committee have said, “We are respectful to all religions. We are giving the directives to maintain the sanctity of other religions.”

A week prior to the festival, the city gears up and can be seen wearing a look of eagerness and excitement as it prepares itself to welcome the Goddess home.A week before Navratri begins; the idols of Goddess Durga are being painted and made ready except for the eyes. On the occasion of Mahalaya, the Goddess is invited on earth with rituals and so on this day, the eyes are drawn on the idols in an auspicious ritual called ChokkuDaan. It is believed the Goddess descends to earth at the time of drawing the eyes on the idols.

On the sixth day of Navaratri i.e.,the first day of Durga Puja; the beautifully decorated idols are brought home or into magnificently decorated public pandals. The idol is then decorated with flowers, clothes, jewellery, red vermillion and various sweets are kept in front of the Goddess. The idol of the Goddess is accompanied by the idol of Lord Ganesh. Goddess Durga is considered to be Lord Shiva’s wife Parvati’s avatar and thus mother of Lord Ganesh.

The festival of Durga Puja is coloured with devotional zeal, mythological legends, detailed rituals, extravagant pandals and magnificent tableaus of the divine Mother Goddess and her children. The ten-day festivities of Durga Puja provide one and all with a chance to spread festive cheer and wish their loved one’s peace as well as prosperity. The nine different forms of the Goddess of Power, Durga or Shakti, as per the Hindu religion are worshipped during this time.

The last six days of the festival, namely, Mahalaya, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, MahaNabami and Bijoya Dashami are celebrated with great pomp and show. The Durga Puja revelry is not limited to elaborate rituals, but extends to various cultural, music and dance performances given by armature as well as professional artists during this time.

On the final day of Vijayadashmi, the devotees bid teary-eyed farewell to the Goddess and her children as it is believed that they leave for their heavenly abode. Their idols are submerged in the water amidst the resonating sound of drums to symbolise their departure.

May this Durga Puja light up for Hindus in Bangladesh and elsewhere throughout the world!We wish that Goddess Durga empowers them with unmatched happiness, great success and good luck. To conclude, we wish to enunciate a few words of a famed poem: “Nil akashermegherbhela,Padma phulerpapri mela,Dhakertaalekasherkhela,Anandekatuksharadbela. Shubho Durga Puja.” A very Happy Durga Puja to all our brothers and sisters of Hindu community in Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, and across the world!

-The End –

Time to Deescalate Myanmar-Bangladesh Border Tension

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Myanmar’s persistent use of mortars to invade Bangladeshi land amounts to a declaration of war on Myanmar’s part and a diplomatic blunder on the part of the government of Bangladesh. In the most recent incident, Myanmar fired three mortar bombs on September 16 into Bangladeshi territory near the Tambru border in Bandarban, killing one man and injuring six others, who were taken to the hospital that night. On September 3, Myanmar fired at least two deadly shells 120 meters into Bangladesh at the Tambru border. On August 28, it launched two additional mortar shells across the same border into Bangladesh, but they did not explode. On August 20, a comparable occurrence occurred at the same border.

Following each incident, Bangladeshi authorities called the ambassador of Myanmar to Dhaka and gave him protest letters. What started with mortar rounds that hadn’t detonated has so far come to a close with the deaths and injuries caused by shell explosions. Bangladesh has reportedly handled the situation professionally on a bilateral basis up to this point, but all that seems to be happening is escalating tensions, which, according to Myanmar, is a provocation for war. Bangladesh is correct to resist giving up.
All of this suggests, however, that despite their repeated claims to be the best of friends, India, China, and Russia have not been persuaded to help prevent Myanmar from inciting a war with Bangladesh. These countries include India, which has cordial bilateral relations with Myanmar, China, which exerts significant influence over Myanmar, and Russia.

According to media reports, Bangladeshi authorities consider bringing the matter before the UN for resolution if diplomatic attempts to date have been unsuccessful.

In December 2018 China and Russia abstained from UN negotiations, and in December 2017 they opposed a UN resolution on the Rohingya problem. It is understandable that the military-run Myanmar, which has a population one-third that of Bangladesh’s and suffers from low credibility throughout the world, would appear to be breaking international law by shelling Bangladesh, given Bangladesh’s weak strategic and political position on the world stage.

In response to recent casualties at Bangladesh’s Bandarban border, the foreign ministry of Bangladesh summoned Myanmar’s ambassador in Dhaka, Aung Kyaw Moe, and delivered a stern protest letter. Since mid-August, the ministry has summoned the Myanmar ambassador four times for violations of land and airspace by Myanmar along the border in Bandarban’sNaikhongchhari, as well as many incidences in which mortar shells from the neighbouring nation landed on Bangladeshi soil.

To counteract any effects of the unrest in the Rakhine state, the Coastguard and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) are still on high alert in the border region. The Myanmar Armed Forces have fired mortar shells into Bangladesh territory on numerous occasions, leaving the population living near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border areas feeling uneasy. In the most recent incident, which happened on Friday night, five mortar rounds fired from Myanmar detonated at a Rohingya camp in a no-land man’s close to Tumbru bazar in Bandarban’s Naikhongchhariupazila, killing a 28-year-old man named Mohammad Iqbal and injuring eight others. An earlier land mine explosion in Bandarban’sNaikhongchhari border area injured a young Bangladeshi man.

The ambassador for Myanmar confirmed that many mortar bombs had been fired into Bangladeshi territory, but he asserted that their insurgent groups had also fired heavy artillery and mortars, some of which had landed on Bangladeshi soil. In this regard, the foreign ministry reaffirmed the government of Bangladesh’s policy of “zero tolerance” toward terrorism and its refusal to harbour any forces threatening the security of its neighbours.

The current crisis is instilling terror among the defenseless citizens residing in Myanmar’s border regions, it has been warned Myanmar.

Bangladesh requested Myanmar to stop engaging in actions that endanger local residents’ lives and means of subsistence. Bangladesh also urged that Myanmar stop its careless military actions close to the border and make sure that no Myanmar-made ammunition enters Bangladeshi territory.

Bangladesh has already said clearly that it wishes to resolve its differences with Myanmar amicably. Therefore, the nation hopes that Myanmar will learn from their error and stop taking actions in the future that would harm bilateral relations.

The Myanmar Armed Forces kept firing many mortar shells into Bangladeshi territory on purpose in an effort to stir up trouble near the border. Bangladesh is working to find a diplomatic resolution with Myanmar because it doesn’t want a war. And the nation will make every effort, taking the matter to the UN if necessary (UN).

The government of Bangladesh, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, never supports armed conflict and always favours peaceful resolution. Bangladesh is attempting to resolve the issue on a bilateral and multilateral level. We are hopeful that the international community and the UN will step up and take the necessary actions to put an end to this disturbance.

Although a battle with a neighbour is not desirable, a diplomatic solution to the problem should still be sought. If necessary, Bangladeshi authorities should raise this with the UN. To find a solution, it must intensify its diplomatic efforts on a regional and global scale.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh should maintain a standing national army to defend its borders, fend against Myanmar, and avert any dangerous situations.

Views expressed are personal

Tense Border: On that Unintentional Error

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4 mins read

For the last few days tension has been growing along the Myanmar border with Bangladesh which has also spread among locals at Naikhongchari and Ghumdhum border areas. According to media reports, Myanmar security forces orchestrated a series of fierce attacks from fighter planes and helicopters inside Bangladesh border in Bandarban on Saturday morning. (September 03) Shells and gunshots were fired from warplanes and helicopters in the Ghumdhum area at around 9:20am.

At least four Myanmar fighter aircraft reportedly crossed into Bangladesh’s air space over Naikhongchhari upazila in Bandarban Saturday morning.

Media reports read that law enforcers are currently on alert after the incident. However, no casualty was reported.

On Thursday, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said Bangladesh is better prepared so that none can enter from Myanmar now due to the deteriorated situation in Rakhine state.

“We do not want to step into Myanmar’s provocation or trap,” he said, adding that the Myanmar side might have a strategic benefit if they can move in such a unilateral direction.

Police and locals said that two warplanes and helicopters patrolled across the Myanmar border between BGB-BOP border pillars no 40-41 in Ghumdhum’s Tumbru area.

At that time around 8-10 shells were fired from the warplanes, and two of them landed 120 metres inside Bangladesh. Besides, the helicopters were also seen firing some 30 bullets.

Locals also said at least four rounds of heavy shells were fired from BGP-2 Tambru Right Camp in Myanmar part, between the border pillar No 34-35 in Naikhongchari on Saturday morning.

Firing was also reported from Muringajhiri Camp and Tambru Right Camp in Myanmar.

On August 28, Myanmar’s Border Guard Police (BGP) hurled mortar shells at the border in Bandarban’s Naikhongchhari.

Two mortar shells landing in Bangladeshi territory from Myanmar earlier on August 28, where heavy fighting between the Arakan Army and the Myanmar military have been reported, on Sunday is a threat to the sovereignty of Bangladesh and to bilateral relations between the two countries. The incident bodes ill not only for Bangladesh and Myanmar but also for regional stability. The shells landed at Naikhyangchari in Bandarban on Sunday afternoon, creating panic among the locals in the Tumbru Uttar Para border area. The bomb disposal unit of the Border Guard Bangladesh is reported to have defused the shells. Such a situation has legitimately become a cause of serious concern for Bangladesh that sees the incident, be it intentional or accidental, as a threat to the sovereignty of Bangladesh that can deteriorate the relations between the two countries.

The relation between the countries have already remained strained mainly because of the irresolution on the safe and dignified repatriation of the Rohingyas — over a million Rohingyas fled violence in Rakhine and entered Bangladesh over the past four decades, with over 700,000 entering the country only in 2017.

Repatriation efforts have faltered since the two countries signed deals, first in November 2017 and then in January 2018, mostly because of the reluctance of the Myanmar authorities and a fearful situation in Myanmar.

When the landing of the mortar shells on Sunday is the recent example of Myanmar’s apparent disregard for the sovereignty of Bangladesh, its bilateral relations with Bangladesh and peace in the region, the Myanmar authorities are not yet known to have acknowledged the incident and clarified their position.

Such disregard was also noted when Myanmar helicopters violated the Bangladesh air space a number of times in August-September 2017, which the Bangladesh authorities strongly protested. However, the repetition of such incidents suggests Myanmar’s continuous breach of international laws. It is also contrary to good neighbourly relations and could lead to unwarranted situations, which are not in the interests of not only Myanmar but also Bangladesh and other regional countries. While a stable and peaceful neighbour is always preferred and, in fact, necessary for any country, an unstable Rakhine is a threat to safe and dignified repatriation of the Rohingyas, an unstable border is a threat to the people living there.

It is, therefore, imperative that the Bangladesh authorities protest to its Myanmar counterparts and seek explanations on the mortar shells incident and see to it that such violation never happens again, for the interests of both countries and the region.

The Bangladesh authorities have, therefore, strongly protested the mortar shell incident to the Myanmar authorities and must also officially inform international and regional forums about the recent and earlier incidents of violation of international laws. The government stepped-up security measures on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border so that people living there feel safe.

According to media reports, law enforcement agencies have further strengthened security measures along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border at Naikhongchari point as locals reported firing from helicopters from the Myanmar side on Saturday.

The law enforcement agencies including Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) remain alert and intelligence surveillance has also been increased near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already and will have summoned Myanmar Ambassador to Bangladesh Aung Kyaw Moe again on Sunday to lodge a strong protest regarding the matter.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Thursday said the government has warned Myanmar and they assured that the country will remain more careful.

On Thursday, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said Bangladesh is better prepared so that none can enter from Myanmar now due to the deteriorated situation in the Rakhine state.

The Myanmar side was warned twice in August following mortar shells landing in Bangladesh territory from Myanmar and a strong protest was lodged in this regard. “We do not want to step into Myanmar’s provocation or trap,” he said, adding that they (Myanmar side) might have a strategic benefit if they can move in such a unilateral direction.

On August 29, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Myanmar envoy and lodged a strong protest against Myanmar’s mortar shells landing inside Bangladesh territory a day earlier.
Bangladesh has lodged a strong protest with Myanmar so that such incidents do not happen again. Bangladesh has also strongly condemned the incident.

But tackling insurgency is an internal issue of Myanmar. Myanmar can’t violate the sovereignty of Bangladesh anyhow in the name of unintentional error. Myanmar must have respect to international law. Myanmar must respect Bangladesh’s sovereignty. Such kind of continuous attitude can damage bilateral relations and destabilize the whole region. Myanmar must remember that Bangladesh is also a militarily capable country.

Views are personal

Hasina’s Visit to Delhi: A Prelude

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After almost three years, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is going to Delhi again on a state visit on September 5. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit is very significant in India-Bangladesh bilateral relations. The Modi government also wants to give special importance to this visit. Because of the changing geo-political situation, New Delhi considers Dhaka as its most ‘trusted friend’. On September 6, the two Prime Ministers will have a private meeting and a delegation-level meeting. Sheikh Hasina will address major business meetings like the Indian Chamber of Commerce the next day i.e. September 7. She will present the picture of how both parties can benefit if Indian investors invest in Bangladesh. The next day she will return to Dhaka via Ajmer Sharif.

Why is this visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina so important? The temporary power shortage in Bangladesh is going to end as Bangladesh’s largest thermal power project ‘Maitri’ is going to be inaugurated during her visit to India. Despite considerable ‘pressure’ from the Bangladesh government, the Teesta water distribution agreement could not be implemented mainly due to the objection of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. This time there will be significant progress if not all of it. The demand for wheat in Bangladesh is increasing.

In this situation, the Modi government has given permission to export wheat through the Hili border in Dinajpur. It should be remembered that this will be her last visit to India before the upcoming elections in Bangladesh. As a result, India will not return Sheikh Hasina empty-handed. During Sheikh Hasina’s visit this time, there is a bright possibility of finalizing the trade agreement called ‘CEPA’ (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) between the two countries. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently approved the draft of this agreement in the cabinet meeting. Now just waiting for India to agree on this. It is being touted as a ‘landmark’ or landmark agreement for free and duty-free trade in hundreds of goods between India and Bangladesh.

If this is a joint testing service, one-stop service will be launched. It will increase investment. As a result, exports will increase by 3-5 billion dollars beyond the current (about 1.28 billion dollars) export earnings. After the signing of the CEPA agreement, if the trade barriers are removed, the import picture of Bangladesh will also change. As most of India’s products and services are compatible with Bangladesh’s economy and culture, and due to low transportation costs and time savings, Bangladeshi importers will turn to India instead of Far Eastern countries for the same products. Then the number of imports from India will increase. In that case, the current import of 7 billion dollars will increase by 4-7 billion US dollars.
Before Sheikh Hasina’s visit, a ministerial meeting of the Joint River Commission (JRC) was held in Delhi on August 25. On August 23, JRC secretary-level meeting was held. It discussed the water sharing agreement of the Manu, Dharla, Khoai, Muhuri, Gomti and Dudhkumar rivers. In this, the issue of finalizing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the withdrawal of Kushiara river water becomes important. Bangladesh wants to use Kushiara water to facilitate the cultivation of 5 thousand acres of land in Sylhet.

This would require India’s permission to withdraw water from the same river. Besides, the Ganga water-sharing agreement will expire in 2026. There is supposed to be a joint survey for maximum utilization of this common river water. After more than a century, the meeting of the Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) of the two countries is sitting in Delhi. The matters agreed by the JRC in terms of water sharing or water management of several important common rivers of the two countries will be fulfilled in the meeting of the two Prime Ministers. This time, the question is – Will the Chief Minister of West Bengal, who has held back the Tista Agreement, come and meet Sheikh Hasina in the capital during her visit to Delhi? The central government of India has invited as per rules. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave a message to the country’s Hindu community on Janmashtami before her visit to India. She said, ‘Don’t think of yourself as a minority. All people have equal rights in Bangladesh regardless of caste and religion.

The Bangladesh government has requested $4.5billion in assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Economists say that the increase in the price of oil and gas, machinery and raw materials in the international market has created huge pressure on the country’s reserves. Bangladesh approached the IMF donors to handle that pressure. Last year, Bangladesh’s foreign exchange reserves were 45.5 billion, but by July 20, it had dropped to 37.67 billion dollars. In addition to the increase in the prices of fuel oil, gas, and food products in the international market, imports have increased a lot.

Bangladesh has not faced such economic problems with foreign exchange for the last decade. Because both remittances and exports have done more or less well during this period. But now due to the situation that has developed in the world, there is a negative impact on remittances. Exports are good, but the rate at which imports have increased has created pressure on the balance of payments.

Bangladesh’s infrastructure is improving rapidly. Now it’s time to set up various industries. In that case, in order to get raw materials and technical assistance quickly and cheaply, India will have to enter into some kind of financial agreement, which is not dependent on dollars in the parlance of economics. Bangladesh and India are gradually moving in that direction, only at this moment the leaders and ministers of the two countries need helpful to each other in tackling the crisis.

Views are personal