Nouka Baich

Nouka Baich or Boat Race is a very popular game in riverine areas of Bangladesh. Boat race demonstrates the boatmen's technique and prowess in giving their boats the maximum speed and forward direction. In national boat race the boats have to cover a distance of 650 meter. Each boat can be manned by 7, 25, 50 or 100 persons. These boats are made of timber of local shal, shil, karai and chambul trees.

In Bangladesh boat races are usually held during the Bengali months of Bhadra and Ashwin. While racing, the boatmen sing in chorus seeking God's blessings. The boats are named attractively, proclaiming their speed or design, for example, the Jharer Pakhi (bird of the storm), Pankhiraj (the king of birds), Saimun, Tufan Mail, Mayur Pankhi, Agradoot, Dipraj and Sonar Tari (golden boat).

Before boarding their boats, boatmen purify themselves and wear uniform vests and tie up scarves of the same colour around their head. Those who row standing take their position at the back. The leader stays in the middle. The drummers and the singers provide beat and tempo to the boatmen.