Special Supplement, Magazine

Reminiscing about the old days in Dhaka: In conversation with GM Shahidul Alam


Published : 03 Jun 2019 03:10 PM | Updated : 07 Sep 2020 06:26 PM

Professor of Media and Communication Department at Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB), GM Shahidul Alam is a man of many talents. He is a patron of thespian arts and has acted in many films and television shows. He was a part of the cast of Bengali Beauty, an internationally acclaimed Bangladeshi film currently taking China by storm. 

I sat down with my teacher and mentor at his office in IUB to talk about how Eid has changed through the years and what he makes of it all. 

“Back then Eid days were less mechanical and much more inclusive. Dhaka was a large town with wide open spaces. There were mostly two storied houses and huge lawns. Most people didn’t get permission to build even two storeys until after the 80s. 

The whole atmosphere of the city was very informal with people streaming in and out of houses. There were no high walls even and you could see into the front lawns of most houses from outside. 

Although we saw our relatives and friends very often, unlike nowadays, Eid day was still special. Even if you saw your friend or family member every day of the year, meeting them on Eid was a must. Meeting friends and family was part of the festivities. 

We used to go to prayers in huge numbers. 

Eid day food was also different back then. It was mostly limited to traditional Mughlai and Bangladeshi food. Nowadays, people have food from all corners of the world, all sorts of exotic cuisines, even for Iftar.

Another highlight of the day was the movie they released on the occasion of Eid. But the cinema back then was of much more tasteful than contemporary ones. 

Back in those days, the primary form of recreation was visiting friends and family. And it was much easier to get from one end of Dhaka to another as there wasn’t any traffic. 

All the men would wear white Panjabi-panjabi and the women would wear different colors. Nowadays, the Eid day attire has become different. Even the tupis have changed as back then people mostly wore kisti tupi. 

Another thing that you don’t see any more is people walking from one place to another. You’d see that they would be in no hurry to get to their destination, which is a rare sight in this day and age.  

Adda was a big part of our Eid day, and we’d spend the hours and hours just talking. You see social media and hand held phones have really driven this practice to near extinction.”

Although Eid day festivities has undergone drastic changes in the past few decades, the spirit of the holiday remains the same. It is still an occasion to spend quality time with loved ones and enjoying the company of friends and family.