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Dhaka Streets Adorned With Mesmerising Alpona Art For Bengali New Year

Streets in the Bangladesh capital were decorated with traditional alpona to ring in the festival of Pohela Boishakh, or Bengali New Year. Let's take a look at its significance.

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Tanya Savkoor
New Update
dhaka alpona

Image: Dhaka Tribune

The streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh, were decorated with vibrant, traditional alpona art to ring in the festivities of Pohela Boishakh on April 14. Starting April 12, about 700 volunteers from an initiative named 'Boishakh 1431 in Alpona' painted a 14-kilometre stretch to "set a world record" for the largest alpona ever, Dhaka Tribune reported. Former cultural affairs minister and sitting lawmaker Asaduzzaman Noor inaugurated the initiative on the Bangla New Year. The organisers said that the initiative was undertaken to showcase the beauty of Bengali culture to the world.

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Know why alpona holds such a special place in Bengali culture.

Significance Of Alpona 

The art of alpona is a deeply significant part of Bengali cultural history in Bangladesh and India. Most festivities are welcomed with a kaleidoscope of colourful patterns and motifs, typically made of rice flour. The designs sometimes also signify religious or tribal communities. In some cultures, certain designs of alponas are believed to ward off evil.

In some other Bengali cultures, the patterns of alpona are linked to bratas, meaning religious fasts are maintained before or during festivals. In the Hindu context, the linear patterns are supposed to symbolise Goddess Lakshmi, the deity of prosperity, while the circular motifs signify a pedestal for deities. 

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Recently, people have found several new interpretations of the art form-- from using paint instead of rice flour to trying contemporary patterns. However, some artists prefer it the traditional way. One such artist is Ratnabali Ghosh from Kolkata, India, beautifying houses across the city with her alpona.

shethepeople alpona
Ratnabali Ghosh | Image: Trisha Majumdar, SheThePeople

Formerly a teacher, Ghosh began spreading joy by creating alponas outside random houses during festivities like Durga Pujo or Diwali. "Alpona has no caste or religion; It holds the significance of secularism. My intention to draw was also to bring together the religions for the festival of lights," Ghosh told SheThePeople in a 2022 interview.

The recent Boishakh 1431 in Alpona was organised by Asiatic Experiential Marketing, Banglalink Digital Communications, and Berger Paints Bangladesh. Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Rupali Chowdhury, managing director of Berger expressed, "Our participation in setting a world record with the longest Alpona reflects our dedication to pushing boundaries and making history." 

alpona #art Bangladesh West Bengal
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