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OP-ED: The racquet and shuttlecock season

  • Published at 01:46 am December 2nd, 2020

Trends and cultures shift but badminton during winters has remained a constant

The winter season arrives at our corridor with a dusky and fuzzy atmosphere.

The day-time remains short and night appears with longer hours. But as soon as the chill turns up in the weather, every other playground, field, and residential terrace of Dhaka city gets flashed with the brightness of electric halogen lights from evening till midnight every day.

Because keeping aside the monotony that winter brings, it’s the festive season of enjoying traditional pithas and long-awaited badminton games.

In Dhaka city, winter spans in a lazy manner. Basically, it’s not before mid-November when the Dhakaites feel the need to wear full sleeve sweatshirts. The tiresome setting of winter grasps both nature and living beings. Hence, it’s the time when the metropolitan youths pull out their racquets and tie up the big string net with bamboos in their respective grounds. The period of seasonal badminton games usually begins in late November and lasts till the end of January. Indeed, it’s the most suitable time to arrange a season or a tournament. 

Over and above this, all the leaping, jumping, and stirring inside a court keep our bodies warm, despite playing outdoors in temperatures that are in the teens. Rising upwards in the court to defend a subtle stroke, running backward on a quick run to reverse a lofty stroke, or counting in an easy point by baffling your opponent with a swift smash, all of these vibrant and sporting actions stimulate our bodies.

While talking to Rasel Rizvi, a young undergrad resident of “Nilkhet Abashik Elaka,” he remarked, “to us playing badminton is not only a sport. It’s an occasion, a festival to us. During this season, our home field turns into a reunion. This is the time when all the young faces and all the seniors of our colony assemble. We play, talk, laugh, and on special days like Victory Day or New Year’s Eve, arrange celebrations.”

Arranging a badminton season is out and out a herculean task. Putting all the heads together, indexing prices and allocating budgets, arranging lights and electricity, and inevitably carrying the racquets and shuttlecocks required at home in management and pre-season plans. 

A wide range of badminton accessories from various brands is available in local markets. Gulistan Sports Market is the hub of purchasing sports equipment during these days. Passing the narrow and thin lanes surrounded by a messy crowd, you can see several sellers and buyers transacting.

Other than its appeal among the youth, a badminton season withholds an impalpable yet significant social value. Over time, a generation dwelling in a residential area renders its legacy to a new generation. Trends and cultures shift towards a newer direction but arranging badminton games has remained as a constant cultural custom.

So a badminton court creates a sense of nostalgia among the earlier generations and generates excitement among the current ones. A 13.4 m long court, therefore, turns into a hub of emotional assimilation and a cultural bridge between the two groups.

But the communal unity that a society earns through the badminton season is the ultimate game ball. In an ever-increasing post-modern reality where metropolitan life is getting more isolated and communities are breaking apart, a traditional sporting practice like badminton keeps the feeling alive for a while. Every laugh, grain of joy, celebration, eating together, and all such moments passing inside and around a badminton court add a point to our life, just like a “21 points game” of badminton. 

If you like to roam around the roads of Dhaka city on winter nights, you may see, along with the white and vintage yellowish streetlights, some other lighting shades are unfurling from the nearest grounds or roadside places. Getting closer, you may hear the tapping noise of a rubbery cork and see a shuttlecock relentlessly being shuffled to and fro beneath the foggy winter sky. This is the most common picture of midnight in Dhaka during the winter, which continues till date.

Mohammad Sifat is a student of International Relations at University of Dhaka. He can be reached at [email protected]

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