One reason to love summer is festivals! The atmosphere created by the music, food, dances, and traditions of each place makes for a unique experience. In this podcast of the Migratory Birds, we get a glimpse of a summer festival in Bangladesh and a summer festival in Thessaloniki.
Stella: Hello, we are here from the migratory birds, I am Stella and my friend Siddiq, and we will talk about the festivals that our countries have, and the seasons that they have. So Siddiq what do you want to share with us today?
Siddik: Hello my name is Siddiq I am from Bangladesh. I’m going to tell you about my country and traditional festivals during this season. In Bangladesh, we have different seasons. We have six seasons. The seasons are summer, rainy, autumn, late autumn, winter, and spring, I’m going to talk about summer because now is the summer season. Bangladesh is the land of the six seasons. Summer is the first season and Boishakhi Mela is the name of the festival. It is the hottest season. It is the season for growing flowers and fruit. When summer is happening in my country the people cannot survive easily. And not only the people but also the animals cannot survive. This causes the death of many men and animals in the summer in Bangladesh.
Stella: It’s not a very happy season for you.
Siddik: That is not a happy season for us. Actually, the summer season is the most important thing in Bangladesh. This season is for growing fruit and flowers. I’m going to share some summer fruits with you. Do you know mangos, jackfruit, blackberries, lychees, and melons? Many other juicy fruits also grow in this season.
Stella: I haven’t tried lychees, but I like melons and mangoes.
Siddik: But the most I like most are lychees and mangos. Mostly because lychees you cannot find at another time. Only in summer and for three months in Bangladesh. Just three months in the summer. I will share my story about the summer when I used to go to my village. In the summer we have many fruits, with many gardens in my country for mangoes and lychees. When I was very little, at that time, I used to take some fruit from the trees, mangos, and lychees. At that time, I was a child. I was very young. I was like eight or nine years old. I enjoyed myself with my cousins too and they also were very happy that we just ate fresh fruit, and you could taste the fresh fruit. It’s like you know a very good feeling for me because I enjoyed it every time. I like the summer in my country. After I grew up a little bit I used to live in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In the summer we had many festivals in Dhaka. The Dhaka University, which is the biggest university in Bangladesh. During that time at the university, we had a big concert for everyone. The concert took place there. Very famous singers would come there to sing for free for people to go there and enjoy themselves. It’s very fun in the summer. I enjoy myself. How about you?
Stella: Oh, that sounds very interesting, both your festivals and your celebrations. I also have some happy memories with my cousins at the festival in Thessaloniki. Every year they celebrate the festival of the prophet Elia. My family lives in a place called Pilea where there is a church of the prophet Elia. Also, many of my family members are named Elia, so they really like that festival because they also celebrate their names, and not only the saint/prophet. The celebration is every July 20th, and it lasts for 3 to 4 days. It used to last more but they have jobs now. People put up little shops and tables on the roads of Pilea that have so many different things such as bracelets, earrings, toys for little children and clothes, etc. They also place tables and chairs all around the square of the village. There are canteens, like trucks that that sell food they call Vromiko-dirty. It’s like hot dogs or souvlaki. They many beverages and beers too.
Siddik: Oh, I like souvlaki. I have tried it.
Stella: It’s very nice.
Siddik: It’s very nice and easy to eat.
Stella: And it’s a very cheap and at the festival we love it. Some also sell corn and cotton candy, which in Greece we call it “the hair of the old lady” for some reason. It’s not disgusting. It’s cotton candy, but for some reason we call it like that.
Siddik: Ok. Ahah
Stella: Furthermore, at the square of the central building, they place a stage where local singers come to sing like Remos Mitropanos, Terzis, Parrios.
They’re local Thessaloniki celebrities. They started off there, but they became bigger.
Siddik: Oh, that’s very interesting.
Stella: They play very nice music.
Siddik: Oh, I saw it. I saw it on YouTube. It’s very fun, I like it. It’s interesting. I like the dancing, the playing in the background the Greek music and they are dancing together while holding hands in a circle. I saw it on YouTube.
Stella: Yes, they love it. They can be doing this until the morning for days. So, I really like the celebration because it reminds me of simpler times I used to go there with my grandparents, and they would buy me any toy I wanted as a kid. The toys are very cheap, and they break very fast but that’s Ok.
Siddik: Ok that was happening with everybody when we were young kids.
Stella: They got destroyed the next day. They also had some games for children, where you would put a coin and you could ride a horse, a plastic horse that would move. There was also a boat that you pulled on a rope, and it would go back and forth. It was very funny. When you were a kid, it was very funny. Now that I saw it as an adult it’s boring. Oh, after I would walk around with my grandparents and my parents, I would meet my cousins and we would play with our toys and spend hours doing so. I remember I only had fun. I can’t remember exactly what I did. I just remember that we were happy being together and eating souvlaki and running around the Square. It was the best. It was the only night my grandparents would stay up until the morning because my grandparents are like 80-90 years old.
Siddik: Oh 80-90 years old!
Stella: Yes, and they would stay until the morning just listening to music or dancing, especially my grandmother. Pilea is outside of Thessaloniki, and they still hold some traditions and I like it, because they maintain the mindset of the village and even though Thessaloniki is a huge multicultural city, they continue to keep their routes.
One time I remember, my uncle Elias who hadn’t been to a festival for a very long time, like in years, he was just sitting there just listening to the songs and just appreciating it because he hadn’t been there in a long time. I saw some tears in his eyes, and I was like “Why are you crying? We’re celebrating!”, and he said that all these memories, were overwhelming because this festival is older than him and so he’s very happy.