There are various kinds of hand fans available in our country. COURTESY
In summer, the sun shines on Bangladesh very rudely and the weather becomes too hot and humid. Temperature goes above 35 degree Celsius maximum time. People search for a cool place, a glass of water and a hand fan. As the days become warmer, people go to buy hand fan to make themselves cool. Once the people were depending totally on hand fan. Though we are now largely privileged by electricity– can use an electric fan, AC; yet, the Bangali mind search for a hand fan. In our country, ‘summer time’ and ‘hand fan’ is almost equal.
There are various kinds of hand fans available in our country. They are different in sizes, shapes, forms and materials. Some are made from Palm leaves, called ‘Taal Pakha’, some made by bamboo frame and piece of fabric, some made by only bamboo stripes; some are made using rattan. Traditionally it’s very famous in Bangladesh because of the unavailability of electricity. It has become very popular in the summertime over a long period. A hand fan is used to induce an airflow for cooling or refreshing.
Every kind of hand fan has its unique making process.
The process of making ‘Taal Pakha’ starts from January to February. The makers collect palm leaves by this time and then undergo many stages and convert the leaves into fans. Sometimes they add color drops on the body of the fan or add fabric frill on the border to make it beautiful. They start selling these fans in March and the sale continues till November. The April-May season is the pick time of selling hand fans. One worker can make a maximum of 100 to 120 fans per day.
Another popular form of a hand fan is a bamboo framed fabric hand fan. This one is aesthetically pleasant and very beautiful. At the beginning of making this kind of hand fan, bamboo-workers cut and sand a piece of bamboo and bend it to a round shape to make the frame. Then a piece of cloth (mainly white or red in color) is attached to the frame and fixed by sewing. Now they add on colorful ruffles at the border of the frame circularly. Now the beatification part, women artisan embroidery on the cloth in flower-designs, leaves, birds, elephants and so on. After that, they attach the bamboo handle with the round object and voila! It becomes a hand fan!
Traditional hand-fans show important aspects of Bengali culture. Bengali culture delights in relationships; their hand fans spin on a thin bamboo stick and cool everyone in the room. ‘A man is taking his meal and her lady is sitting beside him and spinning hand fan’ – this is an atmospheric picture that shows the respect, love and bonding of Bangladeshi family life. Bangladesh is a land of hospitality; when people go to visits a neighbor or relative, the host spins a hand-fan above the guest to give them comfort. What a beautiful social life! We Bangalis cherish colorful life; we love beauty; so even a simple, functional hand-fan is also lavished with colorful handwork. Besides, there is an economic aspect of hand fans. Many family's earnings depend on the making and selling of hand fans.
The weather is heating up in Bangladesh. Whether the electricity is on or not, we plan to stay cool. So pulling out your hand fan and spin it.
Now that’s cool!