Polia A small ethnic community who live in the northern border region of Bangladesh, especially in various areas of Dinajpur, Rangpur, Kurigram and Nilphamari districts. The Polias believe that they became known as Polia due to their escape from the battle of Kurukshetra. They claim themselves to be Kshatriya and they believe in the Hindu faith. They have a language of their own. The Polias love to live in groups. Both nuclear and joint families are noticed in their patriarchal society. The head of society is called Paramanik. The village head is called Mahat. However, they are not as important now as they were in the past.
In Polia society, marriages do not take place between close relatives. At present, relationships are established among two generations. The rule of seniority is followed in case of marriage. The opinion of the guardian prevails over others. But this tradition is not maintained to some extent now. After the marriage is firmed up, the bride is blessed with currencies rubbed by turmeric. Although bridal stakes used to be paid in the past, the dowry system is now prevalent. The Polia society admits divorce and second marriage. The males can marry more than once. The females are very hard-working. They assist the males in almost all tasks. The men inherit ancestral properties. The Polias keep their houses close to each other. This closeness enhances social relationships between local groups of relatives.
The Polia women are now accustomed to wear saris. Although they used to wear white saris with border in the past, of late they wear different kinds of print saris. The males used to wear dhuti in the past, but gradually present, they are becoming habituated with wearing vests, shirts and lungi. The Polia women are fond of ornaments. They like to decorate themselves with different varieties of ornaments. The women love to wear nolok (nose-ring) on the nose, necklace on the neck, string of amulets, bichha (broad string) on the waist and different types of clips on the hair.
Various rituals are observed in Polia society. The arrival of an offspring in society is considered a blessing. A Daima (nurse) is kept with a pregnant woman for taking care of her. She assists her from the time of pregnancy up to the birth of an offspring. Usually, the Daima is brought from the Bede community. The child is given a name on the day of Anna-prashan (ceremony of giving rice to the child for the first time). Religious rituals are observed commensurate with various stages of the child's growth.
The dead-bodies are cremated in Polia society. However, burial is also done in case of lack of financial ability. Food is distributed for showing respect to the deceased. After cremation, the descendants arrange the Sraddha programme for the salvation of the deceased's soul.
The religious rituals include different kinds of worships. The Durga Puja is the biggest religious festival of the Polia community. Besides, the Kali Puja, Manat Puja, Surya Puja and Shiv Puja are also in vogue. They usually worship by placing a ghat (vessel) instead of any image or idols of the gods and goddesses. The Shiv Puja and Charak Puja take place on the occasion of Chaitra-Sankranti (end of the last Bengali month of Chaitra). [Md Abdul Baten]