It was the day before pohela boishakh, the anticipation, the colors, the passion were at it’s peak in the hearts of every Bengali. We all know boishakh means color, it adds a wash of the kaleidoscopic to the grey cityscape and we love it, in fact we can’t get enough of it. But this year the color was evident in the least expected of things…Lungis!!!
Ok here’s a bit of a history lesson as to how the “historical” Lungi March Dhaka got it’s history:
It all started with a photo of a rickshaw puller being held up by a guard in response to him “illegally” wearing a lungi in the high roller kingdom of Baridhara; that came rolling in the facebook homepage, and the photo along with it’s “too ridiculous to believe” heading tumbled and turned along facebook’s whirlpool of shares, likes, and comments until it found it’s way to Moja Loss? Synonymous to most youth in BD as “the funny page” in FB. With almost 100K of likes however it’s not a matter of joke.
Soon enough Moja Loss? opened up an event page called “Lungi March to Baridhara park”, their first ever event, stamped and blessed with the seal of the “the man” Chuck Norris himself wearing a lungi, the page was hard to remain unnoticed. What started off with 6000 people going, the day the event page was formed, soon escaladed to almost 15000 in the day of the event.
And on “the day of the lungi” I found myself surrounded by a crowd of about 10 thousand fun loving, kind hearted and “a bit on the quirky side of the mind” boys and girls in Banani field. The checkards, the plaids, the groovy, the gamcha, you name it we had it!
There were also about 200 cyclists from the BD cyclists group who came to ride along the fun.
Lungis on DSLR strapped photographers, lungis on news journalists, lungis on cyclists, it was quite the sight and the statement, which further found it’s voice with the slogan “joy bangla, lungi shamla!”
The event got started with a fashion show unlike any other, which involved…you guessed it lungi!
And as with the fun and laughter came a bit of the grim when authorities from the police and “elaka” showed up in the gates of the banana field and closed it shut! However with much debate, discussions and demands the gates were opened and out came the lungi march.
As we marched onto Kemal Ataturk Ave our path soon came across a barricade of about a dozen of policemen carrying riot shields, shotguns, rubber bullets and what not!
Yes we rebelled, yes we had “checha mechis” but it wasn’t like any of the kind they usually encounter. And amidst the battle of the voices everyone had in their mind one thing…. “ Moja Loss? ”
“It’s a complete abuse of power” says Shahana, who works for an international agency.
“It’s sad, sad, sad, sad” – Rafayat (Grey)
“This shows the fear of the police, of the authorities and a society of people for something as innocent such as this, it’s sad” – Korvi (Volunteers for Bangladesh, Jaago)
As the day rolled in, and the sun dropped by and after a feeding frenzy of news reporters and journalists. At the end of the day remained a reverberation of the resonance of the youth in the air for a reason that is not a crime, not an insult but a fight for a matured obligation of respecting a dress code that is predominantly ours, that is predominantly a symbol of being a Bengali, that our bap, dadas, our predecessors have worn with much pride and joy not to have forgotten by the riches, it’s not a symbol of poverty as they suggested but it is rather rich in the glory of our heritage, it’s a symbol that millions of Bengali freedom fighters had had their blood stained on these lungis for which you now have this piece of land you so fondly like to call Baridhara….food for thought?
Among the notable personalities present there were Mahi B Chowdhury MP, Korvi Rakshand(VBD), Rubaiya Ahmad(Obhoyaronno), Farhan bhai(Adcomm), Fuad bhai (BDcyclists), Shahana Siddique (UNDP), Down Town Riders, Zubair Oni-Munna-Mahi bhai(Grey), Tauseef-Naureen (Daily Star), Shabanaz Rashid Diya(1D Initiative), Shanto-Shaarf-Arifeen(Radio Shadhin).
This simple movement that started off with a few Facebook likes had now created enough buzz to be showcased on the national TV and press medias and had people talking, as well as covering international grounds as the widely acclaimed Al-Jazeera had it’s own cover of the Lungi March. The effect of which had the High Court pressing a rule against the ban.
“People felt proud to be in Lungis probably for the very first time in their lives!” – Moja Loss?