We Bengalis love our Monsoon. The beams of water pours making us youthful just like a freshly watered old dusty tree leaf. For us a rainy day became so important that it had to be in our curriculum with a must essay called “Memories Of A Rainy Day”. After the hectic , hot, melting Summer, Monsoon comes to revive.
Monsoon lasts from mid June to mid August in Bangla calendar “আষাঢ় থেকে শ্রাবন”. This season has played a huge part in our Bangla literature by celebrating romance, clouds, rains and the emotions surrounding dancing to the melody of rain. The poet Rabrindranath Tagore wrote in his words,
“মেঘের আড়ালে বেলা কখন যে যায়।
বৃষ্টি পড়ে সারাদিন থামাতে না চায়।
আর্দ্র-পাখা পাখিগুলি গীতাগান গেছে ভুলি
নিস্তব্দে ভিজেছে তরুলতা।
For the farmers, rainy season plays a massive role. From the beginning of this season farmers get busy to store the golden fibre, jute. Soils of flood free or wiggly flooded area gets introduced with new seeds of paddy. Bangladesh being enriched at agriculture our farmers successfully cultivate “আউশ/Aus” rice grains which in comparison needs wet soil. These thick grains of rice speak success and peace for the hardworking farmers of Bangladesh.
“Jute”, introduced by white dictators, cultivated and loved by the farmers of Bengal. From eating it’s leaves stir fried with some coconut oil and coconut shards to making a living out of it is the common occupation of people from Faridpur, Tangail, Jessore, Dhaka and Jamalpur. After cutting off the the jute from the stems they soak them in the water in rainy seasons being filled to the brim with water to make packaging yarns. Bangladesh did not have a smooth journey when it came to cultivating the jute. Jute Farmers did not get the proper price for jute since 1900. Plastics used for packaging decreased the usage of jute in order to prevent the fall of jute Bangladesh in 1957 opened up “Bangladesh jute research institute”. Jute farmers feel ecstatic in the time of monsoon for their crops as a grown up parent.
Writing this watching the raindrops falling makes me very tempted for a fresh plate of “khuchuri” with “aloo bhorta” and “dim bhaji”. It’s a staple for us Bengalis in a weather like this. Food connects the soul for us Bengalis. Mother’s love to cook for their children and watching them eat is a complete bliss for most mothers unlike mine who’s suffering from her children eating unhealthy food like a maniac hahahah! Since rice cooked with lentils called “khichuri” is a huge fan favourite “Murighonto”, a lentil curry cooked with Ruhi fish or any fishes head just in general crosses our mind when we see raindrops. It’s a food that only people with elite taste buds will like. Ps. (I used to hate it when I was a child now I can’t get over it). Since our country is 32% waterland and them being filled with water due to heavy rain, fishes are the most common source of protein we consume in monsoon. Innovative dishes like pineapple ruhi fish curry, pineapple prawn curry makes a stunning hit comeback in this weather. Everyday we scroll through our social media feed we at least see three people go to Padma to have “Ilish Mach” or hilsha fish. Atikul Hoque, the director of National disaster management department says, in rainy season everyday 450 motorcycles and 250 cars go to the riverside of padma just to enjoy Hilsha fish. Its the season and our country proudly being the homeland of fish Hilsha we have quite a lot of recipes to enjoy with this flavourful fish. “Elish mach bhaja” with mustard oil and onions can get someone’s mouth watering. We Bengalis can eat one plate of rice with the mustard oil that fried the fish even that’s how much aromatic the fish is. Dishes like “Bhapa ilish”, “ilishes egg fry”, “shorshe ilish” is our pride.
We all have memories of going to our village and picking up a fruit from a tree and eat it fresh. Summer being the most fruity season monsoon also plays as a huge competition and doesn’t give up. Ripe pineapple containing 14% sugar, protein, citric acid, vitamin A and B makes up to everyone’s table in this season. It’s sweet, juicy and aromatic taste tingles our tastebuds. But be cautious to eat it raw cause this fruit being raw is called “abortanist”. A fruit that start its growing process in Spring and finally ends it in Monsoon goes by the name Guava. A fresh hard fruits that some people lost their teeth while eating but still didn’t stop because it’s the good. This fruit is enriched with sugars, protein and vitamin C, good for tooth ache and stomach ache can be found on the roadsides as a salad mixed with “kashondi”. “Amra” a fruit literally meaning “us” just kidding its scientific name is “Spondias dulcis Soland ex Park”. With this fruit a village in Bangladesh called “chechuri” makes an egg curry where they use it whole. The curry tastes sweet and sour and goes amazing with white rice. Figs are so famous in this weather that poet Jibanananda Das himself wrote some lines for it,
অন্ধকারে জেগে উঠে ডুমুরের গাছে
চেয়ে দেখি ছাতার মতন বড়ো পাতাটির নিচে বসে আছে
ভোরের দেয়ালে পাখি-চারিদিকে চেয়ে দেখি পল্লবের স্তুপ
জাম-বট-কাঁঠালের-হিজলের- অশ্বথের করে আছে চুপ;
Just because we already started talking about birds you can see stork literally bathing in the rain. Most of us can only see crows but that just means we are boring. Seeing storks lifestyle, watching them move their tails and listening them sing one can never imagine how brave they can be, it is one of the bravest birds of Bangladesh. One fun fact about this monsoon special bird is it shows as much as affection to its eggs just like our mothers but would forget them as well just like your friends sometimes? Birds who hunt fishes are most visible in this weather. Just like the bird Dahuk whose voice sounds the loudest reaching up to 500 metres. “Paankouri” a black bird that stands on stalks beside the rivers and hunts fishes which are 2 metres into the water just by looking. “Kana Bok”, “Boro Bok” are some defensive Bucks Misty seen in the rainy season. A coward bird eating frogs are also only seen in this season having the name that sounds funny and legit at the same time “ModonTaak” trust me it’s a name that you like to tease your siblings with hahah!
After ending your hectic day schedule on a rainy day if someone gifts you with a bunch of Jasmin flowers trust me it can lit up your day. As poet Rabindranath has put it into words, “বাদল-হওয়ার দীর্ঘশ্বাসে যূথীবনের বেদন আসে”. Bengalis and celebrations go hand in hand. We proudly say “বারো মাসে তেরো পার্বন” and we mean it inch by inch. Jagannath puja and Rathyatra is seeded into Bengali Hindus. Their believe is, on the day of Rathyatra if you plant a banana tree the there will be significantly more bananas and if the clouds call earlier the day the monsoon would come and bless us with rain sooner or if it calls late the monsoon will make us wait a bit more. “Borshabash” a semantic and occupational pedagogy for Buddhist monks. Their belief, if they can’t participate in this they are leaving out on their peace. Korea has kpop we have our “ghato gaan”, a group of good looking, handsome youngsters singing and dancing to earn their living was a very popular source of entertainment for hard working Bengalis living in the countryside. The main vocalist is called “Shorkar” and the instruments used in this form of art is “tabla”, “behala”, Sarinda”, “Mandira”, flute” and “harmonium”.
No matter how much pleasure monsoon blesses us with it leaves us a damage. Just like Devdas said “Chand paar bhi daag hota hain Parvaati” but monsoon is not a Parvaati for a county as down as ours where sea level rises at a slightest inconvenience. Every year during this season almost 18% of our land becomes flooded, leaving 55% of our land in danger because of flood. I’m these 15 days of flood lasting Bangladeshis still don’t feel demotivated to make their life as colourful as before.
No matter how much suffering the season leaves us with, starting a rainy day with a perfect cup of chaa reading “Kakababu Samagra”, feeling the smell of mother cooking khichuri for lunch hitting my nose trails always stays as the perfect example of a rainy day for me.
Author: Amreen Tasnim Jaima