5 months ago

From charuivati to picnic to safari in resorts or eco parks

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Charuivati or charaivati, what a sweet word it is! Its resonance is nowhere to be found in its English counterpart picnic. Who says what matters with a name or a word? The other Bangla word for charuivati is bonbhojon. Any Bangalee with the minimum sense of word know that 'bone bhojon', means a feast in forest. But why is it charuivati or charaivati. Charui or charai---in English sparrow---is a small bird accustomed to living closer to people in every possible accommodation of residential buildings and tin roofed houses or other kinds of homes, although a particular species of them live in the wild. Vati in English translation is glow or shine not in the sense skin-enhanced creams in their ads make the meaning out of the word.

Now why the small bird, neighbour to people, and the word natural glow have been conjoined to make a new word ---or is it an independent word!---is rather a mystery. A house sparrow lives as people's closest neighbour but it forages for its foods wherever it is possible ---from lawns of households to farmers' crop fields or bushes where their food and protein supplements are available from small insects, ragweed and crabgrass.

Can this foraging nature of the tiny bird living in houses have something to do with charuivati or bonbjojon? As long as sparrows feed on domestic grains from household lawns, it is routine feeding but when they venture out for foraging away in the bushes and fields, that adventurous feeding expedition adds a new meaning to simple eating. Eating out in towns and cities have assumed a different meaning but for rural people it still means something quite different. At times farmers or day labourers have to eat their foods in the open field or where they work away from homes. This food they themselves carry or is carried to them by their wives or children.

That is, however, no charuivati or bonbhojon. Most food items of bonbhojon had to be foraged in earlier times. Better it would be to say that the dishes had to be prepared from stolen vegetables, fish, meat (duck or chicken) and if possible other items including spices as well. Cooking oil or milk could not be stolen but procured from homes or purchased from subscription of the bonbhojon party members. Stealing here is not an offence because the tradition in every locality was quite known. That the youths arranging bonbhojons in different groups on the full moon night of Poush or Magh ---the months known for winter in this part of the world---received approval from their elders. On that night, they would spend the whole night in a hut built in the open field or on the edge of woodlands. There they would cook their sumptuous dishes only to be eaten late at night. The huts were made of paddy stalks left after harvest on the frame of bamboo branches stuck in the ground like roof of a country boat. In the shivering cold, this was quite thrilling. But inside the tent-like hut it was cosy enough but bonbhojon party sat outside surrounding the makeshift oven busy cooking dishes.

Today Charuivati has become picnic even for rural youths. Bonbhojon is a thing of the past. Not just youths, but also families of a village choose a picnic spot, hire transports for spending a day out. The mike gurgles Hindi songs from the roof of the bus or microbus to announce that some people are going on an picnic excursion. They have no need to look for the full moon on the calendar because, usually a weekly or other holiday is considered a convenient time for all the picknickers.

In cities and towns, this revelry is even more pronounced with some young people giving in to extreme merrymaking. But then there are people with means to have a little more costly excursion, who choose to visit a designated picnic spot, resort or eco park where facilities are aplenty. The Gazipur Safari Park offers one such facility and there are many surrounding it. These are coming up all across the country. No doubt, such arrangements have given Dhaka residents now breathing poisonous air on a daily basis the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and come in close touch with near virgin Nature. People can stay overnight if only they have the right purse for the expensive and luxurious time in the cottages and other facilities. These urbane accommodations and culture have their own attraction for people of the upper classes but those are nowhere near the prime and pure experience of charauivati or bonbhojon.


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