The country has stepped into the last week of the pre-winter Bengali month of autumn, Agrahayan. Although the cold season is yet to be in the air, people have started smelling it --- though faintly. In Dhaka city, the punishing time of humid and scorching heat seems to be over for the next two months. Life may not turn out to be unbearable due to an obstinate summer at least for some time.
A couple of decades ago, the much-awaited season of winter would descend on Dhaka and the outskirts with all its truculence. The onset of the season could be felt from the end of September. These days, the residents of Dhaka have to wait until late December to become aware of the season's arrival. Not long ago, winter used to stay in the city and the surrounding areas for over two months. The Bangla months of winter, Poush and Magh, could be distinctively identified in December, January and February. The season would arrive on time to start departing slowly in February. In the earlier times, winter chill used to envelop the city for three full months in some years. Those days are gone.
When it comes to the pattern of winter duration and intensity, the scenario in the whole country is almost similar to Dhaka. In the past, the country's northern region used to experience severe winter bites every year. Deaths of elderly people from winter cold were a common phenomenon. These avoidable deaths are no longer there in the winter-vulnerable districts. It has nothing to with the economic status of these people. The normally winter-struck people have not graduated to a class able to afford enough winter clothes. Due to the weakening nature of winter, the poorer people no longer feel threatened by wintry nights and mornings. Almost a similar spectacle could be made out in the country's south-western region.
The fast drop in the intensity of Bangladesh winter is no enigma. By its geophysical nature, the country is blessed with a temperate climate. Yet it has also been vulnerable to occasional cold waves since ancient times. In the recent years, the land has started losing even its temperate character. People cannot be termed ultra-sensitive to seasonal heat if they call Bangladesh a summer-dominant country. Climatologists have solved the riddle decades ago. That reckless carbon or greenhouse gas emission in the recent times is responsible for temperature rise is common knowledge now. These emissions have led to a massive global warming. Climate change is a direct manifestation of this heating; it's caused by a fast increase in consumerism coupled with rising dependence on technology making way for blocking the normal course of nature. Of late, scientists have detected another culprit responsible for the erratic behaviour of nature. They have identified it as El Nino factor, caused by variations in sea-surface temperature. Although the El Nino impact is largely limited to changes in the pattern of rainfall and storms in a given region, some experts also link it to the behaviour of seasons. An irregular trend in the course of winter and the frequent onslaught of cyclones have been singled out as a double whammy for the country. Bangladesh has been made to pay the price for an act not committed by it. It is one of the world's most low carbon-emitting countries.
The slow disappearance of winter or its irregular arrivals and departures are thought to portend bad times for the country's agriculture. The cycle of some of the nation's crop cultivation and harvest is linked to its indigenous seasons. However, it is mainly the two seasons, i.e., summer and monsoon, which now dominate our seasonal map. Along with spring and autumn, winter has long lodged in urban cultural rituals.