CULTURE & HISTORY

MEZBAN: AN AGE OLD CULINARY HERITAGE OF CHATTOGRAM- FEATURED BY ANISUR RAHMAN

Mezban is an age old tradition of Chittagong. Mezban is an unique tradition and a significant cultural element of Chittagong.


Whenever you think about a specific city or a particular area, there comes something in your mind which actually represents that  area. For example,  Las Vegas- Pub,  Agra; Taj Mahal, Paris: Eiffel Tower etc. Similarly, In Bangladesh, you may draw a picture of something on your mind when you hear about a particular region such as Dhaka: Kacci Biriyani,  Bogura: Doi (Yogurt), Cumilla: Roshmalai ( one kind of sweet food) etc. In fact, these popular foods are the important parts of culinary heritage of these areas.

In Bangladesh, whenever you think about Chattogram the first word comes into your mind is ‘Mezban’.

THE CIVIL INSIGHT explains the ins and outs of ‘Mezban’ of Chattogram .


So, what is Mezban actually?

Mezban is locally known as ‘Mejjan’ is a persian word means ‘hosting’. It is basically a grand feast and also a very popular social gathering which is considered as one of the most unique local cultural traditions of Chattogram. It’s  an age old tradition of Chattogram  which actually be arranged in Muslim community  on honor of a person who is no more in the world.  People of this region arrange Mezban on other occasions too such as death anniversary, birth anniversary,  opening new business, circumcision, piercing of nose and ear of girls etc.
Don’t be surprised when you get to see that thousands of people are having food for five to ten days continuously on the same ground! That’s actually happen when renowned personality in society arrange such grand feast/Mezban.  
Another important aspect is that you don’t even need to be invited to have food in a Mezban.  The thing to do is that just grab a chair, seat before a table and have food as long as you can. There is no restrictions and you can have as much as you want.

Meals to have in a Mezban?

The basic food menu offered in a Mezban must contain beef with white rice.  An exquisite mouth smoldering spicy meat can make your mind blow up. If you are food lover then it’s a must test food for you. There also may have other special dishes like ‘Nihari (beef leg bones)’, ‘Cholar Dal (gram lentils) with beef bones’ etc.

Glimpse on the History of Mezban…

As i have mentioned already, this is an age old tradition and no specific  history found how Mezban became a culture in Chattogram. People in this region are following this from a very long tine. One important thing to mention is that Mezban is not a religious festival though people in Chattogram  celebrate in religious way. People in Chattogram believe that whenever they offer such grand feast the soul of the death person becomes blessed. Apart from this, Many people arrange Mezban hoping to be successful in their purposes like birth anniversary,  opening new business, circumcision, piercing of nose& ear of girls.

More to be amazed in a Mezban!

A supplementary dish is also served before the actual meal. It is popularly known as ‘Folar’. This dish contains a mixture of different types of fruits served with parched rice. After making dua (Prayer) for the death of a family member or for any other purposes, this ‘Folar’ served as ‘Tabarak’ (blessed food).

Crossing the boundaries…

In recent years, Mezban crossed its local boundary and is being celebrated in many other areas in Bangladesh. Different social welfare organizations such as Chattogram Shamity, Coxsbazar Shamity, Pathia Shamity, Boalkhali Shamity and others also organize Mezban as a core part of their yearly celebration. Because of its increasing popularity, many other corporate organizations also organizes Mezban like Standard Chartered Bank, Novoair, PHP group,etc. Different restaurants in Dhaka are now offering special Mezbani dishes in their menu card. Undoubtedly,  it’s beyond local boundary now.

Yes, there have some controversies about Mezban. We should not judge this from religious perspective rather we should embrace this as a part of culture; as a moment for ecstasy…


The writer is currently pursuing MBA degree from the University of Dhaka in the Department of Marketing.

You can reach him: [email protected]


 

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