POST TIME: 2 August, 2017 00:00 00 AM
Monsoon brings windfall for ‘donga’ sellers of Narail
Our Correspondent, Narail

Monsoon brings windfall for ‘donga’ sellers of Narail

This recent photo shows workers busy making ‘donga’ (palm-wood boat) at Tularampur in Narail sadar upazila. Independent photo

The recent spate of heavy rain may have left most people miserable, but one group of traders is rejoicing. It has been a windfall for the ‘donga’ (palm-wood boat) sellers of Narail. People from across the district, as well as from the neighbouring districts, are making a beeline to Narail to buy these unique indigenous vessels.  

Not unexpectedly, the yearly donga sale reaches its peak in the Bangla months of Shraban (July-August) and Bhadro (August-September), depicting the monsoon and the post-monsoon periods respectively. However, the demand has soared early this year, with the waterbodies already full in the rural areas.

The donga can carry at most four persons. Many villagers use it to pick ‘shapla’ (water lily stalk), or catch snails to feed their ducks, or to catch fish in the monsoon. Chachuri, Maijpara, and Tularampur haats (markets) of the district are famous for the ‘donga’ trade.

The carpenters of Char Shalikha, Shalikha, and Puran Shalikha villages in Sadar upazila make these dongas and sell these in the local haats. The donga is made by splitting a palm trunk in half. One boat costs around Tk. 4,500.

In Tularampur haat, this correspondent found a queue for dongas. The buyers had come from not only different areas of Narail, but also from Jessore, Khulna, Magura, Jhenidah and Gopalganj districts.

Hannan Sheikh, 56, a carpenter of Char Shalikha village, said he had learnt to make dongas from his father Amir Sheikh. His son Jakat helps him with the job now. "Fifteen families in our village are in the profession of making dongas," he added.

Mohammad Shamshul Sheikh, 65, a carpenter of Puran Shalikha village, has been making dongas for about 25 years. “We have to buy a palm trunk first. Each one costs around Tk. 4,000. Two dongas can be made from one trunk. My family members and I can make three dongas a week. Each one is sold for around Tk. 4,500. I have to support my family with this paltry net income. However, since there is no other work available from the month of Aashar to Ashwin, we have to be satisfied with that,” he said.

Gnanendra Nath Biswas of Jatrabari village in Kaliganj upazila of Jhenidah district said: “I had come to buy a donga. We need this vessel to catch fish, pick up shapla from the ponds and to maintain communication with neighbours throughout the monsoon.”

Folk culture researcher Prof. Rabiul Islam said: “Many types of small boats, called ‘tabure’, ‘dingi’, ‘goina’, etc., were common in this area. Some of them have vanished as waterbodies like ‘beels’ and ‘haors’ have dried up. The donga has survived mainly because poor villagers still need it.