Shahida Khanom, a PhD candidate at GIFT, is conducting research on “Co-lingual hot authentication of intangible cultural heritage: the Rush Mela festival in the Bangladesh Sundarbans”. The aim of her research is to develop a conceptual model on host-guest authentication of intangible cultural heritage incorporating both host and guest perspectives.

Rash Mela is the most popular annual festival of Bengal. It is celebrated in honour of Lord Krishna and his eternal love Sri Radhika, and consists of performances of music, dance and folk stories performed by singers, dancers and musicians from all over the state. It is a unique cultural celebration of the local hindu community in the surrounding villages of the Sundarbans mangrove forest in south-west region of Bangladesh which normally takes place on the full-moon night of the October or November every year. The festival attracts many tourists, mainly from different parts of Bangladesh as well as from some other countries. As part of the research, Shahida visited the Rush Mela festival in Sundarban in October-November 2017, and interviewed the local community (hosts) and tourists (guests) to learn their views and experiences of the festival. She was assisted by two post-grad students from Khulna University and one research officer of a local NGO – Rupantor in conducting the survey.

The survey was carried out in Dublar Char island, Sundarbans and Chila village, Bagerhat district. More than 100 participants from the local community (e.g. organising committee, fishermen, worshipers, forest officials, shop owners, tour operators) and tourists were interviewed. Shahida has also collected some official records from tourists from the Forest department of Bangladesh. She expects good results from the collected data that will help to achieve her research goals.