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Monday, April 13, 2009

Baishakhi fashion

Chandra Shekhar Saha talks about changing trends

By Jamil Mahmud

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

'Pahela Baishakh,' the first day of the Bengali calendar, is a festive occasion. What makes it remarkable is that it brings all sections of the society under one umbrella and is widely celebrated through South and Southeast Asia: Bangladesh, India and Nepal (based on the Hindu solar calendar that commences in mid-April of the Gregorian year), as well as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand. 

In our country, people gear up for the festival by going on a shopping spree -- opting particularly for new and fashionable attire. Celebrated fashion designer and artist Chandra Shekhar Saha believes this trend is not a fruit of a few days; it has developed over the last decade. He finds three important initiatives -- Chhayanat's musical soiree at Ramna, BSCIC's Baishakhi fair and 'mangal shobhajatra' by the students of Charukala -- that collectively manifests the day's significance. In a recent interview with The Daily Star prior to Pahela Baishakh 1416, Saha went over this evolution of the fashion market.

"Though the initiatives began at various points of time, collectively they have played an important role in bringing people together over the last 10 years," said Saha, pointing to the initiatives by Chhayanat, BSCIC and Charukala.

Saha observes rapid changes in the field of fashion designing. He asserts that over the years fashion houses have adopted two forms of designs prior to Pahela Baishakh: first, traditional motifs on their products and second, experimentation with materials and colours. "Though attire, primarily in red and white, have traditionally been popular, in vogue today are lighter shades of those two colours. Off-white, maroon, purple and other reddish colours now find a place in wardrobes alongside basic red and white. Fashionable attire are fatua, T-shirts and salwar-kameez rather than the conventional saris, lungi and panjabi," he says.

Saha has worked over the last 35 years in the field of fashion design. This year, he has conceptualised Kay Kraft's Baishakhi attire and greeting cards. The collection has been designed by a group of artistes and based on terracotta plaques from the walls of Kantaji temple. The greeting card, designed by Nisar Hossain, depicts 'Lokkhi-shora' from Manikganj. This year's Baishakhi collection of Nitya Upahar is also Saha's brainchild.Saha observes that the rural lifestyle filters into the city on Pahela Baishakh as “people go out to what is akin to a village fair.” Besides, he adds, foodies enjoy a feast of 'panta-ilish' and 'deshi' sweets. 

Saha hopes that the young too will be enthusiastic about this colourful festival. "If we want to keep our art and culture alive then among our festivals we must give pride of place to Pahela Baishakh,” he says.


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