by Sameer Majli
The culture and tradition of a place are reflected in the lifestyles and occupations of the people. Professional indulgences reflect on the resource available and there always are individuals indulgent in making the best use of what natural resource is around.
The city of Belgaum was once called “Venugram”; the name having its origins in the fact that it was a region thickly populated by “Bamboo”. Hence it is but natural to have a population of those working with Bamboo to make articles of daily use.
The “Burud” or “Medar” are a community which having been working on bamboo for ages. As it was age old tradition to name a street on the basis of the profession or skills of the people residing there, we even have a street called “Burud Galli”. This traditional occupation of these skilled craftsmen is an integral part of the history of Belgaum.
The raw material for the same is obtained from the remaining forests around town. The bamboo has to be cut into strips of equal breadth and thickness, a skill that takes years to master. Nimble fingers work to transform the strips into baskets and other containers of various shapes and sizes.
The forest cover around the region is fast dwindling and there are stricter laws against the cutting of vegetation. There is also the shift from the habit of using traditional containers to ones made of plastic on account of changing lifestyles, developing technologies and the prevalence of the desire for convenience. Thus it is but natural that the hustle, bustle around the region is not what it should be.
Sadly it would be just a matter of time before a complete replacement of bamboo by plastic, becomes a harsh reality. As of now, fortunately the usage of their wares in nearby rural areas, continues to provide them the much needed means for subsistence. But as is apparent, the time is not far, when, maybe, they would have to look for other means of occupation. Sadly, another art which once used to be a thriving trade faces evident extinction.
To accommodate for the changing needs of time, is it right to replace tradition with convenience and trend?
Will it just be another tale of losing out on our tradition and origins in the incessant quest for development?
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