Shankhari Bazaar, the name itself is inheriting glory of shankha art. Once the Shankhari Bazar was famous as the place of art. The traditional Shankha industry is now struggling for survival. Fighting with Indian products, excessive prices of raw materials; however low-income and less market demands are the main cause of the struggle.
Before also these works was done by hand with touch of total heart. Nowadays machine are widely using in Shankha industry. Although much works is done with in short time but creativity become limited within monotonous format. Cutting, cleaning, carving, sketching, designing and polishing are the six steps for making an artistic shankha. After cutting and cleaning, pairing and rounding has been done by machine.
Mithun Nagh, a shankha entrepreneur says, “This is our family business comes from forefathers. The price of raw materials is rapidly increasing. So this industry is harassed for existence. In India, the tax on the raw material only 5%, but here in Bangladesh 35% . So Indian products price is very low that people interested to buy cordially. To save this industry we need to make a competitive market. For this purposes needs government’s patronisation. Moreover now the sale day by day is reducing because of high price. Before the price of a pair range was within 70-100 taka, but now is Tk. 400. There is less options to buy the shankha for 80% Bangladeshi poor. If majority poor can not buy shankha, how the industry could be run?” |
It is the tradition of married Bengalis Hindu women to ware ‘Shankha’ and ‘Sindur’ (vermilon) on forehead. Hindu believes, shankhas are supposed to keep the mind and body cool. However conch-shell elements (like carbon) protect women from diseases. A couple of years before also Shankha’s earrings, necklaces and other attractive ornaments were widely used. But by the effect of modernization religious values, the use of shankhas also rapidly is decreasing. As alternative for the high priced real shankha, the low quality plastic shankha is available by 10 taka.
Most of Shankha artists are from lower middle class whose daily income 70 – 120 taka. But in 80 decades was 200 – 250 taka. There were original 142 Shankha shops but now only remain 15. Since the early 90’s the numbers are decreasing while the new generation does not keen to enter the profession.
In the narrow roads, high-density population and old architectural areas do not have minimum citizen facilities. However the community is living in high risky and unhealthy environment. As they are fighting with the reality and poverty, are forgetting traditional life. Most of the houses are over 100 years old. In 2004 by collapsing old building 19 lives were died.
Shankha entrepreneur, Omio Kumar Soor says, “This is the time to save the traditional Shakhari Art by the governmental patronisation. If government reduces the tax compare to India, this industry could be encouraged and survived . However it is need to make popular to all Bangladeshi people. We want to escape the use of Shankha from Hindu religious realms. If all Bangladeshi, particularly the cultural peoples use the shankha as common Bengalese common tradition, it would be popular. However the market popularity will be increased, artist will get more work and the industry will be saved.”