13 days ago

Nobanno Fish Fair: A festive Bengali tradition

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The Nabanna Fish Fair is billed as one of the most prominent traditional events in the cultural festivals of Bangladesh. This fair is usually held in November and December, especially to celebrate the enriched collection of fish with a vital role to play in the local and national economy. 

In 2023, based on the Bengali calendar, this fair was celebrated on November 17 all day. The religious culture of the Hindu communities has highly influenced this fair. 

Naturally, people from different walks of life rush in, and many local delicacies are displayed for sale. However, this fair was held for a few years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. That's why post-pandemic years mark a remarkable sparkle in many communities and local places where the economy of this traditional fair had been falling to record low. 

Nobanno Fish Fair continues from morning till afternoon, whereas many fish containers are placed around the fair zone as a collection of products for wholesale sellers. Around this fair, there are much more pervasive networks for which buyers and visitors gather around the fair to enjoy the local tradition. 

Despite restrictions on endangered and rare fishes, many diversified fish species are found in the fish fair. 

As the festival starts in the first phase of Agrahayan, traders usually start preparing to collect fish from different regions of Bangladesh. Households in specific regions take a festive look during the period of Nobanno Fish Fair. The relatives, especially newlyweds, are entertained with various fish and seafood species.

The Nabanna Fish Fair is the highlight of the Nabanna Festival in Bangladesh. Significantly, the local areas and villages of Bogura and Joypurhat are adorned with an unremitting crowd of villagers and tourists for this festive look. 

Traders and vendors adorn their shops and markets with different fish species. Joypurhat fish fair is organised at Pach Shira market in Kalai Upazilla, where traders and sellers come from 25 to 30 villages, including Matrai, Hatior, Madarpur, Hatshor, Begungram etc. 

However, traders say the crowd often consists of more spectators than buyers. Therefore, festivity and tradition are more valued than the economy behind fish fairs held in these places. 

Nevertheless, several traders stated from their business experience that more than a crore taka-valued fish and delicacies would be sold in 70 to 80 stalls this year. 

On the contrary, with another dimension of festive mood, the Nobanno fish festival commenced in Bogra on the first day of the 8th month in the Bengali calendar. 

In the villages, Hindu communities have arranged the fish fair for over 200 years, with a central stage drawing in the common populace from various classes of society. 

To participate in the festive fair's economy, people from approximately 20 villages, including Uthli, Rathbari, Narayanpur, Debipur, Gujiya, Ganeshpur, etc., rushed to the fair. 

Along with fish, villagers sell vegetables in temporary shops during the fair. 

The Nobanno Fish Fair is the showcase of the rich fishing industry. Besides containing cultural heritage amongst the Bengalis, the robust sale market of the fish fair contributes to the national economy. 

Thus, the business cycle of Nobanno Fish Fair centres around the employment of many fishmongers and traders during the period of the Nabanna Festival.

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