Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The finals of the local boat racing season were held in ancient Ramu last week. It’s very tempting to wonder for how many centuries this colourful sport has been enjoyed in the this ancient centre of trade.

In fact, we know that the sport was revived here not too long ago, but there is every reason to suppose that it dates back as far as the more famous Dragon Boat racing of other places in Asia.

In Ramu, it is carried out on a more modest scale than in many other parts of the country. Six paddlers, cox’n and headman seem to be the more common crew size, and the craft themselves, sleek and streamlined, are far more modest than those with up to 120 paddlers and a full accompaniment of spearman, drummers, cheerleaders and other assorted spurs to victory not uncommon elsewhere.

It may be, of course, that the tradition in Ramu differs from that in ancient Bengal, since this was through most of recorded history territory of Arakan and Burma rather than Bengal. Regardless, the annual racing season, as the crowds on the bank testify, is greeted with great enthusiasm in the rivers of the Cox’s Bazar area.

Keenly contested, the prize is more in the pride of winning than anything mercenary; a real, amateur sport to entertain and inspire.

Yet another of the many attractions of this fascinating ancient town.

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