The house walls are covered with colourful motifs of birds, animals, trees, and flowers. These motifs, traditionally known as alpona, tell the story of a village.
Nature's beauty is displayed on these walls in brilliant colours, while the drawings of cattle carts and oil lamps reflect a young village girl's life.
Such alponas can be seen throughout Tikoil village of Chapainawabganj. Almost all the houses there exhibit colourful motifs. These drawings of the village girls are a feast for the eyes. You cannot tell they are not professionals with degrees in fine arts.
The narrow and serpentine roads of Tikoil are adorned with one and two-storied houses featuring alponas. The women paint the walls with colours all year round.
However, in the festive seasons, the alpona drawings become a part of it too. The trees, birds, flowers on the wall get a new coat of colour, painting them with the flavour of the festivities. The balconies get a protective layer of polythene so that the rain does not wash the colour away.
Though the Hindu houses of the village host alpona, it got its name "Alpona Gram" because of the exceptional talent of a woman named Daykhon Barman.
It is in the Hindu tradition to draw the clay walls with red and white pigments. But Daykhon started the tradition of alpona in Tikoil, the villagers say. She was the first one to draw colourful flowers, birds, and animals on the clay walls. Then others started following her and made alpona a tradition here.
The 50-year old Daykhon reminisced when she came to Tikoil as a 12-year-old bride, forty years ago. The outer walls of the houses would be decorated in white and red colours for the puja then. She started to do that too.
Then gradually Daykhon started drawing flowers, birds, and trees in colours. She used to paint with colours made of clay in the beginning but then started using store-bought paints. She mixes and matches the brush to bring out more colours and paints on the walls.
"The beginning is the hardest part," said Daykhon, "of an alpona design."
"It can take around 15 days to complete an alpona on a medium-sized wall. But after doing the household chores, it can take up to a month or more."
Nayanmoni Barman, a 60-year-old of the village said, "Other women and young girls learnt to do alpona from Daykhon and started to paint their walls."
What Daykhon started is being continued for three decades. Recently, the upazila administration held a formal reception to recognise her.
The oldest in the village, 70-year-old Md Ibrahim said: "In the past, the only form of transportation in the area was cattle carts. The houses here are made of clay because of the adherent quality of Borendra area's soil. The Hindus would coat their house walls with clay water. They would paint on the walls as well."
The village has 140 houses, 90 belonging to the Hindu families of "Barman" caste – most of them being farmers.
The government has given 17 solar-powered lights to the village so the colourful walls are always lit.
Recently, three Shantiniketan students came to Tikoil to research the alpona painted houses.
The alponas not only display the culture and life of the people, but they also make the clay walls more durable, show a Bangladesh Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge (Barcik) study.
"The makers of these wall alponas were the indigenous people of the Borendra land, and later on, the Hindu and Muslims of the area adapted the tradition," Barcik Borendra area coordinator Md Shahidul Islam said.
"The traditional alpona that the women and girls of Tikoil make, is no less significant in aesthetic aspects," Dr Sushanta Kumar Adhikary, chairman, Department of Painting, Oriental Art and Printmaking of Rajshahi University said.
The writer of "Chapainawabgonjer Itihash" (The history of Chapainawabganj) and Professor of Department of Bangla, Chapainawabganj Government College, Dr Mazaharul Islam Toru said: "The Barmans fall in the indigenous Rajbongshi ethnic group. The Hindus of Tikoil carry some traits of these indigenous people. The alpona drawings may have come from that indigenous root."