Garo indigenous peoples celebrate Wangala harvest festival across the country particularly where they live in Dhaka, Gazipur, Mymensingh, Netrokona, Sherpur, Jamalpur, Sunamganj, Moulvibazar, Sylhet, Chittagong and Tangail districts. They give thanks to the God and Goddess, called Misi Saljong, also known as Pattigipa Ra’rongipa (Sun-God), for blessing the people with a rich harvest. Wangala is celebrated in the months from September to December. Garo people who were mainly dependent on agro-economy. Garo people do not use any agricultural products before thanking God of fertility Misi-Saaljong. Since the main occupation of Garo people in Bangladesh is farming and agriculture, they generally worship the Lord of farming and agriculture who bestows them with lots of blessings. The Wangala festival is therefore a grand Carnival to celebrate the harvest season.
Since the 1980s, many Garos began to migrate to other parts of the country, especially to Dhaka and to Chittagong, to pursue higher education, or to find employment in one of the many NGOs, as household servants, in the garments industry, and lately, and very successfully so, in the beauty parlour industry. The face of the rural landscape is altering rapidly due to these new forms of mobility. In 1993, Nokmandi Community Centre administered by Mymensingh Catholic Diocese mobilized and coordinated first Garo civil society members of Dhaka for celebrating the Wangala festival in Dhaka. Rev. Father Camillus Rema played a key role in conceptualization of Wangala celebration. Since then Wangala festival has been celebrated in Dhaka. Every year Dhaka Wangala festival celebration committee selects a ‘Nokma’ (de facto family) for leading and coordinating the celebration as adhoc basis. The celebration committee collects funds from individuals, churches, organizations and different development organizations including Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Office.
In this journey, the adhoc basis Wangala celebration committee experienced different challenges and difficulties in managing the funding sources, documentation of each year celebration and finance management. In this context, Dhaka Wangala celebration committee decided to reshape this platform into an organization in 2019. Thus, Dhaka Wangala began to register with the Social Welfare Department in 2020.
Today Dhaka Wangala has emerged as a non-political social welfare and socio-economic organization. It is registered with the Social Welfare Department under the Voluntary Social Welfare Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance, 1961 (Ordinance No. XLVI of 1961) Rgd. No. Dha-09833 in 2020. It has envisaged to work for economic, social, cultural and education development of Garo indigenous peoples in Bangladesh. Dhaka Wangala has become a common platform for Garo indigenous peoples living in Dhaka for meeting together at least once a year.
Principles of the organization
Dhaka Wangala promotes three basic principles-education, culture and development. This organization will work for advancing Bangladesh Garo communities in education, play significant role in practicing and preserving Garo culture and tradition and progressing through the light of development.
Purpose of the organization
· Create awareness among Garo communities to practice and preservation of Garo culture
· Celebrate traditional Garo cultural festival ‘Wangala’ and other Garo festivals
· Formation of cultural groups for Garo children, women, students and youth and strengthen the group
· Establish a Cultural Centre for promotion of Garo culture and thoughts
· Networking and linkage building with diverse organizations of indigenous communities in Bangladesh
· Strengthen solidarity and unity between urban and rural Garo communities
· Establish networking and communication with national level diverse socio-cultural organizations
· Ensure representation Garo communities and its traditional culture through participating in different socio-cultural celebrations
· Organize different trainings, meetings, workshops and seminars for the promotion of Garo culture
· Carry out need based research on the Garo culture and socio-economic issues
The General Assembly is the supreme body of the organization and meets at least once every year to decide on the direction and guidance of Dhaka Wangala Executive Committee (EC) is the governing body of the organization. EC is composed of 7 members headed by Chairperson. An Advisory Committee composed of maximum 3 members Garo civil society members and activists guides and advises Executive Committee. The General Secretary is the chief functionary of the secretariat of Dhaka Wangala and supervises the daily working of the secretariat.