Bera Festival

Bera Festival

August-September; last Thursday of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada
Wherever there is a large body of water in Bengal, a region encompassing eastern India and Bangladesh, agricultural communities are likely to celebrate the Bera Festival. Holy men known as fakirs supervise the preparation of ornately decorated floats ( bera means "raft" or "float" in Hindi), which are constructed in honor of Khaja Khizir, the patron saint of the waters. The festival is essentially a Muslim tradition, although it draws from Hindu regional customs. It takes place during the Bangla month of Bhadra, which falls sometime between August and September.
The ancient raft custom existed before the 13th century, but it was only with the arrival of Turkish rulers during that time that the celebration shifted its focus on Khaja Khizir. At that point nawabs, or viceroys, of regional cities like Murshidabad and Dhaka became followers of the saint and decreed that the raft festival honor him.
The centerpiece of the festival, the raft, is made out of local banana trunks that are lashed together to make a square platform. On top of the platform are placed 20-foot boats. The float is then decorated with flags, flowers, and other trappings, and finally is pushed into the water to be received by Khaja Khizir.
CONTACTS:
Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, National Tourism Organization
233 Airport Rd.
Tejgaon
Dhaka 1215 Bangladesh
www.bangladeshtourism.gov.bd