Bon Bibi: Sundarban
- 11 Jul 2020
- 3 min read
Why in News
A centuries-old folk theatre form and the worship of a forest goddess i.e. Bon Bibi has helped the natives of the Sundarban survive by understanding the power of nature and the limits of human needs.
- Bon Bibi: Bon Bibi is a deity of the forest and the central character of Bon Bibir Palagaan, a musical drama unique to the Sundarbans.
- Shrines to Bon Bibi and her twin brother Shah Jongoli dot the landscape of the Sundarbans.
- The followers of Bon Bibi are fishermen, crab-collectors and honey-gatherers who live in the mangroves with wild animals such as tigers and crocodiles to earn a livelihood.
- They believe that only Bon Bibi protects them when they enter the forest and survive in tiger dominated areas.
- Bon Bibir Palagaan: People express their belief in Bon Bibi through Bon Bibir Palagaan, a dramatic storytelling form that is enacted throughout the island.
- Traditionally, the performances are held near Bon Bibi temples or villages bordering the forests.
- An unwritten code believed to be given by the deity prohibits islanders from carrying guns or weapons into the forest.
- They must enter the forest only if they absolutely need to earn a livelihood and not take more — honey or crabs, fish or prawns — than they need.
- They must not pollute the forest in any way, by smoking, defecating or washing utensils.
- According to a local lore, poachers, pirates and those who disobey Bon Bibi are attacked by tigers as punishment.
- The Sundarbans is a mangrove area in the delta formed by the confluence of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna Rivers in the Bay of Bengal.
- It spans from the Hooghly River in India's state of West Bengal to the Baleswar River in Bangladesh.
- The active delta region is among the largest in the world, measuring about 40,000 sq km.
- India's Sundarban was declared as the UNESCO'S World Heritage site in 1987.
- Sunderban Wetland has been accorded the status of ‘Wetland of International Importance’ under Ramsar Convention in 2019.
- Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve (National Park) is an Important Bird Area under Birdlife International.
- The area is known for many rare and globally threatened wildlife species such as the estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), royal Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris), Water monitor lizard (Varanus salvator), gangetic dolphin (Platanista gangetica), and olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea).
- Sajnekhali Bird Sanctuary is a part of Sundarban and is famous for the sight of rare birds.