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The tree carrying our tradition must stand tall

Published : Thursday, 30 December, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Count : 749

Although winter is a dry season in nature with trees stripped off green leaves and withered, it also holds a unique position in Bengali tradition. While other trees get faded by losing their sap, date palm tree keeps the time awash with jar of nectars.

Perhaps no one will be found in the country that will not turn nostalgic with date juice. In fact, any topic regarding this natural aromatic sweet syrup evokes us the sweet memories of those winter mornings alive with various traditional cakes and succulent desserts (pithas and payesh).

Unfortunately, that eternal ecstasy of rural Bengal surrounding date juice seems to have significantly dropped.

A news report recently published in this daily in its 'Country' page in this regard paints a bleak future alongside its fast fading popularity. The information in this regard gleaned through this report about different parts of Khulna and Rajshahi, we believe portrays the overall disappointing image of the country.

Alleged link of environmental disasters and indiscriminate burning of date trees in the brick kilns behind rapid disappearance of the local simply suggests our sheer negligence and indifference to our soul searching roots.

Date trees are directly involved in the livelihood of a section of our society who are called tree-man or Gachhi. They collect juice from Bengali month Kartik to Falgun and process it to various types of molasses for sale in market. Now their livelihood has come under threat as date trees are on the verge of extinction.

Apart from traditional and cultural value, medicinal and nutrient value of date juice is no less at all. Moreover, as lightning incidents are increasing in the country, environmental protection and shock absorbing value of a tall tree like date should be kept in mind.

We know that there is a rising demand for date molasses in the international market. Even date molasses were once exported abroad from our country. While different countries have been markedly alert to ensure intellectual properties, should we allow such a rich tradition to be lost?

The craft range from collection to consumption of date juice reflects unique mastery of our local people. We must not forget that many of our traditions are now found in museums due to our blatant negligence and manmade destruction.

We believe, in order to preserve this valuable trees both public and private planning are equally important. Such a storehouse of nectars cannot be used to meet the hunger of brick kilns. Social resistance is must in this regard in addition to applying proper legal options. We cannot rip apart the bond our souls and nature with date tree and its juice.

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Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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