Hill Voice, 09 August 2019, Tarash, Sirajgaunj:  Now, it is the plastic-made goods that reigns the market. A variety of attractive plastic-made goods has already flooded the rural remote localities. Even the indigenous domestic articles like Kula (winning fan), Chalon (crop filtration device), Daripalla (weighing balance), Dhaama (small cage used for sowing paddy) and various other articles of daily usage have not been spared from making replica. It is due to availability of these plastic-made merchandise, the household goods that are usually made of bamboos and canes find no place to be sold. For this, among the Chalonbill residents, many indigenous families maintaining their livelihood by making and selling those articles, are all set to lose their profession. Today, the traditional Handicraft goods of indigenous people are getting disappeared in the face of aggression being dealt by the Plastic Industry. Some 40 – 50 thousand ethnic indigenous peoples live in the North Bengal areas comprising Tarash, Raigaunj and Ullapara of Chalonbill under Sirajgaunj District and Chatmohor and Bhangura of Pabna district and in various localities of Gurudaspur and Singrah Upazillas of Natore district. Of them, some families of more than one ethnic groups or communities belonging to Oraon, Mahato, Teli, Turi, Robidas, Kanakdas, Saontal, Boraik and Singh ethnic indigenous groups used to sell their hand-made goods for livelihood earning.

Sometime in the past, males and females of Chalonbill Indigenous localities would go for work as laborers in the agricultural lands and brickfields to feed their families, which would face neediness right from June to November each year. By then, dealing in handicraft goods was one of the means of survival to them. Some families from among those ethnic indigenous groups would make and sell the handicraft goods as their sole livelihood earning while some other families would earn their livelihood by buying and selling those handicrafts goods. Thus has been the role of Handicrafts Industry in the life of indigenous peoples – explained the issue by Prof. Jogendra Nath Topyo, General Secretary of Tarash-Raigaunj Oraon Foundation.

Hoimonti Oraon (75) of Madhainagar village of Tarash Upazilla said that some time, the hand-made goods of indigenous peoples were an inevitable requirements to the inhabitants of Chalonbill for their day-to-day domestic activities. In the bazaars and trade centers, the families practicing agriculture would rely on the handicrafts goods for fulfilling their needs sake and use them for the years together, since those were environment-friendly, too.

The handicraft merchandise includes: Madur or Pati or Sop made out of date palm leaves, Khaloi for keeping fish, Polo for fishing, Kula for separating rice from paddy or unwanted elements, Chalun for filtration of paddy, Khoichala for filtration of pupped corns, Morah, a kind of round-shape appliance for seating, Topa (coop) for rearing poultry, Khatia or Khatli made of bamboo and jute-fiber rope for taking rest, Tukri for carrying soil, Dari-Palla made of bamboo and cane for measuring crops and other produces, Chaki or Kathaa, a kind of bowl for eating pupped rice, Dhaama, made of bamboo and cane for sowing paddy, Jharu or Safta, made of `Binni Phul’-a kind of naturally grown long-grass-flower, Tona-Turi, made of split bamboo blades to cover mouths of the cows, etc. Besides, there is a Petari, a kind of bamboo-made round-shape back-carrying cage, which has been common and mandatory to the couple during marriage.

However, with the passage of time traversing advancement of human civilization, it is not the only case of rural localities but also as a result of scaled-up usage of plastic merchandize elsewhere, the traditional handicraft items of Charanbill indigenous people tend to find their names written in list booked for abolishment.

On the other hand, due to denudation of forests by humans, cane has become almost unavailable. Price of bamboo is also high and the bamboo-made fishing items are no more in use. As the herds of cows are least to be found and the bamboo-made Tona-Turi, the mouth cover of cows, as it does not require to musk the cows.

Pradip Mahato, the college teacher of Datta Bari village is of opinion that the plastic-made items are being used in domestic needs and hence, people are not interested in using the handicrafts items in domestic purpose. Once there has been the time when there would prevail no work, the indigenous families would opt for handicrafts for earning their breads the opportunity of which exists no more by now. Consequently, the families dependent upon handicrafts products are being obliged to give up their traditional profession. The artisans are picking up different options while others are rushing to the towns and cities.

In Mohan Kanakdas’s house in Gopalpur village of Raigaunj, the bamboo-cane items are made to a little extent as to this day. Mohan Kanakdas (52) stated that his father Late Polan Kanakdas would pull expenses of the family by making and selling the handicrafts goods. Even having been mastered over his father’s business, now it has become difficult-some for him to meet his family expenses. He further informed that with exception to his widow sister Kanak Latadas and himself, there is none to work with the handicrafts.

Sushil Mahato, President of District Indigenous People’s Forum of Sirajgaunj informed that including some families of Oraon and Mahato, some people of other ethnic indigenous groups or communities used to produce handicrafts goods. At present, in the face of developing civilization, including lack of demand for such goods, and due to various other reasons, they cherish no more interest in handicrafts.

In this regard, Mohammed Obayed Ullah, Deputy Commissioner (Land) also entrusted with additional duty as In-Charge of Thana Nirbahi (Executive) Officer, informed that the government has multi-faceted patronization for handicrafts. Chalonbill is a huge area. It requires a coordinated effort to protect the Handicrafts Industry of the indigenous peoples in this area.

Source: Samakal, 9 August 2019